“That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore,” was a song by the Smiths, but it might as well be lead singer Morrissey’s anthem after he was parodied on an episode of The Simpsons Sunday night. A statement signed by Peter Katsis, Morrissey’s manager, called out the parody on the Official Morrissey Facebook page for using “harshly hateful tactics” and calling the show “unapologetically hurtful and racist.”
In the episode, Lisa Simpson discovers single-named, Morrissey-like singer Quilloughby (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch), lead singer of a 1980s band called The Snuffs. But things take a turn when an overweight, meat-eating, racist version of the character shows up at a reunion concert screaming against immigrants and denouncing veganism.
“Is this what I turned into?” the character yells at one point. “I’m greedy, I’m hateful, and my face looks like a syphilitic moon!”
A day before the episode aired, the official Morrissey page seemed to be looking forward to the show, even posting an image from it and the comment, “THE SIMPSONS CELEBRATE THE SNUFFS.” But that changed after it aired, when Katsis posted the lengthy statement rebuking the show.
A spokesperson for Fox said the network had no comment.
Tim Long, who wrote the episode, told Stereogum the character was a blend of numerous moody singers, including Robert Smith from the Cure and Ian Curtis from Joy Division. But with song titles directly riffing on Smiths’ hits — such as “Hamburger is Homicide” instead of “Meat is Murder” and “How Late Is Then” for “How Soon Is Now?” — it’s pretty clearly mostly Moz.
Katsis told Rolling Stone he’s unsure if Morrissey has watched the episode, but that he hopes he hasn’t. He also told the magazine that the coverage of the controversy isn’t focusing on how “insulting” the portrayal is.
“The guy is still a super vegan,” he said. (In one scene, Morrissey shoots meat at the audience.) “His beliefs in animal rights is what’s got him to this point.” He also said that Morrissey’s actions, including having three Latino musicians in his band, show he’s not a racist.
There’s no doubt Morrissey’s political opinions have alienated some of his fans in recent years. He’s worn a badge of a British far-right political party on television, and made inflammatory comments about immigration and the #MeToo movement, among other things.
In the statement, Katsis defended the singer.
“Does he hate terrorists and extremists? Yes!” Katsis told Rolling Stone. “Did he blast the Chinese on their wet markets and ignoring animal rights back in 2010? Yes!”
Katsis says Morrissey’s representatives are not planing any legal action now, but will “surely be looking at options.”