To love Morrissey is to occasionally hate him. No pop star in history has stirred such conflicted emotions in his millions of fans based on his extra-musical relentless diatribe. By the looks of the upcoming Moz biopic England Is Mine (which is out now in the U.K. and hits U.S. theaters on Aug. 25), it seems easy to remember the former Smiths singer as the precocious Northern boy with big dreams and an even bigger vocabulary.
But while writer-director Mark Gill is keen on portraying the artist as boyish and meek Steven Patrick, the rest of us are stuck with the man known as Morrissey—the man of a million insults, a thousand enemies, and the biggest mouth in showbiz. To celebrate our love-hate relationship with The Pope Of Mope, here are eight of Moz’s most ridiculous big mouth moments.
1. “I can smell burning flesh…and I hope to God it’s human.”
Said: On stage at Coachella in 2009
Morrissey is infamous for his vegan lifestyle and animal rights activism, so much so that in 2016 the Animal Welfare Party invited him to run as a London Mayoral candidate. Clearly nothing has come of Mozzer’s brief flirtation with politics, and this might be a good thing considering his fanatical demonizing of meat eaters. The singer has been known to demand that venues go vegan for the nights he plays them (although they often do not), and has no shortage of vile things to say to people who challenge his meat-free ways.
At Coachella in 2009, Morrissey walked off stage halfway through his set claiming, “The smell of burning animals is making me sick. I can smell burning flesh…and I hope to God it’s human.” It seems that Moz only finds animal meat to be murder.
2. “In the U.K. we live under a Nazi regime.”
Said: On stage at Edgefield Amphitheater in Troutdale, Ore. in 2015
A firm practitioner of Godwin’s Law, Mozza loves comparing things to Nazis (and Auschwitz) as he did in front of a swarm of fans in 2015. “You probably don’t realize it,” he said, “but you’re very lucky in this country because you don’t have a boil family, but in the U.K. we live under a Nazi regime.”
The artist has built a legacy out of hating the Royal Family and anyone associated with Buckingham Palace. There are too many anti-monarchy quips to count, from wearing “We Hate William and Kate” t-shirts onstage, wishing “Prince Charles had been shot” after the Prince was fired at in 1994, to defending the Canadian Brown Bear, whom The Queen allegedly has hunted for sport. Morrissey told the crowd at Leeds Academy in 2011, “I’m sure that the Canadian Brown Bears will give a collective sigh of relief, the day that the wonderful little old woman [The Queen] drops dead.”
3. “It’s the refuge for the mentally deficient. It’s made by dull people for dull people.”
Said: About dance music to Details in 1992
Only an infamous curmudgeon like Morrissey could make such a claim. The thought that a performer (who doesn’t even write his own music) could imply that dance music mavens like, say, Daft Punk, Giorgio Moroder and Air are “dull people” is ludicrous. Perhaps had the singer gone into specifics, citing Bananarama as the culprit of dullness, we would understand. Instead he has lumped everything from ABBA to Ace Of Base to Larry Levan into one big, amorphous “dance” category. Come on, Moz.
4. “Robert Smith is a whingebag.”
Said: To NME in 1984
The origin of Morrissey’s feud with The Cure front man Robert Smith can be traced back to 1984, when an interviewer asked, “If I put you in a room with Robert Smith, Mark E. Smith and a loaded Smith & Wesson, who would bite the bullet first?” To which the clever Smiths singer retorted, “I’d line them up so that one bullet penetrated both simultaneously…Robert Smith is a whingebag.”
According to Collins English Dictionary, a whingebag is, “someone who constantly complains about everything or anything, and maybe as annoying as rustling a plastic bag in an ear for a few hours,” which, we’ll admit, does sound a bit familiar.
5. That James Baldwin T-shirt
Seen: On Morrissey’s website, but later removed
Moz has never been praised for subtle merchandise (selling t-shirts with phrases like “Be Kind To Animals Or I’ll Kill You”), but his most recent swag snafu ended in an accusation of racism. In March of this year Morrissey’s official merch site Mporium featured a shirt screen-printed with the face of black author and civil rights activist James Baldwin. Unfortunately the t-shirt also quoted a famous lyric from The Smiths’ song “Unlovable”: “I wear black on the outside ‘cause black is how I feel on the inside.”
While the lyric or portrait of Baldwin might have been less provocative solo, the combination was nothing short of incendiary and a very poor use of context. No one reacted to this blunder better than Ryan Harrington, who wrote in Mellville House, “…this particular shirt is a regrettable misfire of internet mash-up culture, in which the curated mingling of disparate words and images devalue one another, rather than enrich one another.”
6. Suggesting Jamie Oliver eat his own kids
Seen: On Morrissey’s fan site True To You
Morrissey has countless bizarre and hyper-specific enemies and he seems to foist enormous and undeserved accountability upon them all. Take, for instance, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, whom Moz has claimed is all three of the “three things wrong with modern England; But that was just one of Mozzer’s attacks on “Jamie ‘Orrible.” The most heinous of his outbursts might be when the artist suggested Oliver partake in cannibalism and filicide.
On the blog True To You, Morrissey went on a rant, claiming, “If animal serial killer Jamie Oliver feels so passionate about including ‘kid meat’ (young goat) into the human diet, would he consider putting forth one of his own kids (children) for general consumption?” In a similar tirade, Morrissey queried, “If Jamie ‘Orrible is so certain that flesh-food is tasty then why doesn’t he stick one of his children in a microwave? It would taste the same as cooked lamb.”
7. “As for Brexit, the result was magnificent.”
Said: To Australia’s Faster Louder in 2016
In conjunction with several allegations of racism, Morrissey has quite a reputation for being considered a nationalist—if not in song alone, then simply in public comments. He’s been known to say that “British identity disappears,” when too many immigrants are let into the U.K., and more recently he praised Brexit. In an interview with Australian magazine Faster Louder, the singer stated, “As for Brexit, the result was magnificent, but it is not accepted by the BBC or Sky News because they object to a public that cannot be hypnotised [sic] by BBC or Sky nonsense.”
While many were shocked by this statement, you need look no further than songs like “The National Front Disco,” “Bengali In Platforms,” and “This Is Not Your Country” to see Moz’s xenophobic seeds sprouting.
8. “The Chinese are a subspecies.”
Said: to The Guardian in 2010
In an interview with poet (and self-proclaimed Smiths fanatic) Simon Armitage, The Pope of Mope went lower than he ever had before. “Did you see the thing on the news about their treatment of animals and animal welfare?” he asked Armitage. “Absolutely horrific,” he continued. “You can’t help but feel that the Chinese are a subspecies.” Morrissey has yet to retract or apologize for this ghastly comment, but what would you expect from such a big mouth?