Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Morrissey: the importance of being a frequently infuriating enigma

In the light of my recent (well, over the past year or so) awakening to the "joys" of The Smiths, I watched Sunday night's Channel 4 interview / documentary 'The Importance Of Being Morrissey' with more than a little interest - and found it a little frustrating and disillusioning.

On the one hand, it conveyed well his status both as an iconoclast (as one friend commented, "If you spend time with Morrissey you always find yourself dissecting and annihilating people's characters") and as an icon in his own right, a position he has come to assume mainly through remaining perpetually elusive and enigmatic. He gave away precious little to the cameras and interviewer.

On the other hand, though, his grudges and bitterness at times seemed vain and ugly - when asked about the Mike Joyce court case, for instance, he referred to it as a "gross miscarriage of justice" and said he "wished the very worst on Joyce". No doubt Morrissey has good reason to bear grudges and to be bitter, particularly due to his treatment by the English media. What was most disillusioning, though, was the fact that this acerbic, fiercely intelligent, principled and quintessentially English figure has responded to victimisation by moving to Los Angeles and immersing himself in all the shallow, plastic and spineless superficiality and conspicuous consumption of Hollywood, things he set himself against in the 1980s. We saw him driving his open-top Jag, wandering around his swanky villa (just off Sunset Boulevard, and once owned by F Scott Fitzgerald) and taking tea with Nancy Sinatra. As Will Self said, "He's fully embraced his destiny as an eccentric", but I was hoping he might come across as rather more likeable than he did.

No comments: