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The five stages of Morrissey fandom

I have spent the last few days listening to quite a lot of Morrissey and The Smiths. Seeing as how this week marks the 25th anniversary of the release of one of the greatest albums of all time, The Queen is Dead, I felt I should write about my love for Morrissey.

I have been a Morrissey fan ever since I met my first boyfriend. I would go over to his house and we’d sit in his bedroom and listen to the first Smiths album, and sometimes we’d cry together. (Yes, he turned out to be gay and left me for a boy.) He educated me about a lot of amazing music, but I really fell in love with Morrissey and The Smiths.

Morrissey spent a lot of time alone reading books, just like I did. We both thought Oscar Wilde was a genius, and we both thought we were unloveable. I wear black on the outside, because black is how I feel on the inside. If I had ever thought of getting a tattoo at age 17, I am pretty sure it would have said that. (I am glad I never got this tattoo though)  Things change as you get older…that being said, here is my interpretation of the Five Stages of Morrissey fandom.

1.  Romanticism

Keats and Yeats are on your side…

When you first encounter Morrissey, you’re a teenager (if you’re lucky).  Teenagers feel things so much more deeply than anyone else in the world.  I would hear Morrissey’s songs and they would speak to me in such powerful ways.  I was an outsider and a loner, and so was he.  It was terribly romantic to picture him as a Byronic figure, standing on the windswept moors, with a tear running down his cheek.  Only he understood the pain of living.  Only he could rescue me from that pain.

2. Wit

Morrissey is known for making good sound bites.  He has often gotten himself into trouble for saying things that have been misconstrued.  Back in the 80’s, he gave a good quip.  I remember that he said things like “Long hair is an unpardonable offense which should be punishable by death.” (Later, I discovered this photo of him as a lad with very long hair…haha!) He also loved to put down other pop stars of the time.  He accused Robert Smith of The Cure of being a “whingebag”.  Robert Smith replied by saying that, “If Morrissey says not to eat meat, then I’ll eat meat; that’s how much I hate Morrissey.”  (Not that Robert Smith is an angel – I  remember that he said he wanted to see George Michael hung by the neck – I can’t find the exact quote but you get the idea.)

But you lose, because Wilde is on mine….sugar…

During this phase, the young Morrissey fan will educate him or herself by reading loads and loads of Oscar Wilde, Byron, Shelley, Keats, etc. etc.  Every word that passes the lips of a Morrissey fan in this stage is either a quote, an epigram, or a witticism of their own invention.  This becomes very tedious for their friends, if they should happen to have any.

This phase ends when the fan reads A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney, and ends up highlighting every line that ended up in a Morrissey song.  Finding out that Morrissey has plagiarized and taken on loan creates an overwhelming sense of disillusionment, which is immediately internalized and forgotten so that you can continue to listen to Morrissey and not feel like the world is crashing around you.

3.  Vegetarianism

Steven, you don’t eat meat…

I personally have never gone through this phase, because when it comes to food I am unable to deny myself.  Well, I do eat a lot less meat than I used to, but that’s just out of necessity due to not having any money.  Also, there are all sorts of nasty diseases caused by toxic meat, and also I happened to read Fast Food Nation, which is The Jungle of the 21st Century.  If you don’t know what The Jungle is,  click here.

However, the young Morrissey fan who first hears Meat is Murder may become inclined to eschew meat, leather, dairy, eggs, and all of those things that are made from animals.  The Morrissey acolyte will also make sure to let everyone within hearing know that they are eating the decayed flesh of an animal that once had a face, or some such similar lecture.  This phase will either continue until the person becomes a vegan, or it will end once their family cooks up a barbecue.

I did see Morrissey at Coachella in 2009, and he could smell the barbecued meat coming from a nearby food vendor.  He left the stage for a moment, declaring, “I smell burning flesh…I hope to God it’s human.”

4.  Death Wish

It’s inevitable.  If you are listening to Morrissey, eventually your thoughts will dwell upon your eternal slumber.  For someone that has written so many songs about suicide, Morrissey sure does persist in staying alive.  Still, there is nothing like listening to endless litanies about how things would be so much better if you were dead.  I used to listen to Asleep before I went to sleep, which is a song about killing yourself and/or dying in your sleep.  NITEY NITE!  SWEET DREAMS!  Yes, I had issues.  (Still do)  It’s terribly romantic to think of your funeral, and all of the people who would be there in tears, wishing they had been nicer to you while you were alive.  (Ah, youth!)  This is the phase in which I should have gotten that tattoo I mentioned earlier.

5.  Nostalgia

Once you’re grown up, and you’ve become a clever swine, Morrissey might lose some of his allure.  The golden god may tarnish a bit and you might forget about him altogether.  If you forget about Morrissey, I hope you enjoy your corporate sycophantic life, because you are dead inside.  As long as you have a little affection for the Mozzer, you will continue to question reality.  When you’re listening to Morrissey and The Smiths during this phase, you will think back on all of those nights you spent crying into your cat’s fur and smile fondly.  What fools we all were in those days, ah what fun to write your suicide note in longhand while tears splashed the page!  Is it weird to feel nostalgia for crippling depression?  I am not sure.  All I can say is that back in the late 80’s, Morrissey already knew how we were going to feel about him in the future, so he wrote a song about it.

Listen below to Rubber Ring, and remember that Morrissey is in the corner of your room, holding a torch.

When you’re dancing and laughing, and finally living, hear my voice in your head and think of me kindly…do you love me like you used to?

Reverse poseur

Everyone has run across the type of person who pretends to have seen a movie or read a book or heard an album that they have not spent two seconds with.  Let’s be honest here – sometimes we are that person.  In the 80s we (meaning Anglophile girls who love Brits with mullets) would call that person a poseur.

However, I hold a certain pride in the opposite position.  I like to openly admit that I haven’t seen important pop culture touchstones.  I love telling people that I haven’t seen these movies or TV shows on purpose.  They are usually shocked, stunned and amazed at my restraint.  To be honest, I really have no desire to see any of these things.  I’m very contrarian and I like being that way.

I do have a friend who hasn’t seen any of the Star Wars movies, but she has seen Spaceballs.  When I heard that, I was pretty weirded out until I realized she was only doing my favorite thing in the world – shocking people with her pop culture ignorance.  If she’s anything like me, she’s secretly proud of the reaction she gets from people when she tells them she hasn’t seen the Star Wars movies.  And just think, this means that George Lucas never raped her childhood!  (I envy her.)

Here is a list of the movies and TV shows that I have never seen, and never will see, and enjoy telling people I have never seen:

1. Titanic – I have a tendency to cry at movies.  Sometimes it’s better for me to wait and watch a movie at home where I can cry until snot runs out of my nose and no one will see me and/or point and laugh.  I’m sure if I saw this movie, I would cry that hard, and I really have no idea why I would want to put myself through that.  Look, we all know the story, and the whole “I’m king of the world!” bit, and the necklace.  Isn’t that all I need to know?  Why do I need to watch an entire ship full of people drown in icy water?

2. Jurassic Park – Little kids love dinosaurs.  If I had been a little kid when the movie came out, I would have been excited.  (I guess.)  I don’t think I was a dinosaur-phile, actually.  The only reason I might want to see it is because Jeff Goldblum is in it, and I think he’s a long tall glass of sexy nerd-water.

3. Dancing With The Stars – I learned from American Idol that talent shows are rigged and I’m sure this one is no exception.  I have watched a few clips of it, but I have never sat and watched an entire episode.  The winner is always the former athlete and/or former professional dancer.  There’s no reason to obsess over it and theorize over it and make conspiracy theories over it, and that’s what the fun of these talent competitions is for me.

4. Law & Order (in every permutation) – This is the type of show that my mother would watch.  Therefore, I have avoided it for half of my life.  Apparently this show has been on for twenty years?  I really have never heard about it until a few years ago.  I know I’m missing out on a lot of sexy dudes and weird serial killers and 90’s fashions, but I figure, why start watching it now?  I’m way too far behind.

5. CSI (in every permutation) – Gore really makes me uncomfortable.  I watch House and have to close my eyes during most of it.  I also enjoy going to a hotel without having to bring a black light along to look for cum stains.  I’d rather not know what might be going on.  I have enough problems in my life.

Honorable mention – I have to put The Simpsons on this list, although I have seen a handful of episodes.  When that show premiered, I worked at night and I never had a chance to watch it.  By the time I had a regular schedule, it had been on for so many years I felt like I was way behind.  Now it’s been on for so long, there seems no point in starting to watch it now.  I have Googled most of the pop culture references such as I, for one, welcome our robot overlords so I can figure out what’s going on if people talk about it.  I wish that someone would just make a Best of Simpsons DVD so I could consume it in an unhealthy binge weekend.

Although I have never spent any time watching these worthy shows and movies, I did read the entire Twilight series just so that I could intelligently make fun of it and argue about how shitty it is.  (I think I’ve already made the intelligently/Twilight oxymoron joke so I’ll give it a rest.)

I think I need to get my priorities straight.

Five reasons The Voice is better than American Idol

I used to be a huge American Idol fan, ever since season 2 when I got drunk the night Clay Aiken lost to Ruben Studdard.  (Don’t you dare call me a Claymate, though.  Those bitches are CRAY-CRAY!  I never drew angel wings on him either.)  I was such a devoted fan of the show that I stood outside CBS studios for eight hours just to see a RESULTS show.  Now that is fandom, friends.  That was the night Josh got kicked off the show, and I hated him so much.  It was very gratifying to be there in person and witness his failure.  After the results show taped, Oprah was in the studio to interview the contestants.  I never watch Oprah and almost left until I found out who here guests were.  So yes, I have attended an Oprah show in person.  (Yay?)

I think I got off on a tangent.  What I was trying to say is that despite my years of obsession and attention, I have not been watching Idol this year.  Once Simon left, I was just not interested.  It was bad enough that they fired Paula last year.  (HOW EXCITED AM I THAT PAULA IS A JUDGE ON SIMON’S NEW SHOW?  SO EXCITED.)

I felt like a rudderless ship on an endless sea, without any reality singing competition in my life.  Then The Voice came on the scene.  I totally wasn’t going to watch it at all until I noticed a local talent was in the contest.  Nakia from Austin is an amazing soul singer, who I became aware of during a Sharon Jones concert last fall.  Here is a clip of his duet with Sharon Jones that night:

As soon as I found out he was going to be on The Voice, I had to start watching.  Once I have someone to root for I am a sucker for these shows.  There are several Austin artists in the contest, and they are all on Cee Lo’s team.  Cee Lo happens to be my favorite judge, so that is just perfect for me.

The way the show works is that the four judges (Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo and Blake Shelton) choose eight contestants each to be on their team.  They choose the team by listening to the people sing in a blind audition.  This means the judges can’t see them.  If the judge turns his chair around to see the singer then he has chosen that person for the team.  If more than one judge turns around, the singer can choose the team they want to be on.

Over the weeks, the judges will coach their teams and hopefully be the judge that finds the winner, aka The Voice.

I found the auditions to be a very refreshing change of pace, and here are five reasons why I think The Voice will be a better show than American Idol:

1.  The contestants have real talent.  You won’t see anyone in a hot dog costume or someone who can’t really sing but thinks they can.  Every one of the contestants was a good singer.  Maybe a few of them were somewhat funny looking, but all of them have talent.  Most of them are working musicians who play gigs as their full time job.  Real struggling artists!  Real struggling artists who deserve a break!

2. There are no sore losers.  There were some contestants who sang their heart out, but none of the judges turned their chairs while they were singing.  This was pretty heartbreaking to watch.  You know what was great, though?  None of those people flipped double birds to the camera while shouting obscenities.  They all just said, “That’s show biz,” and tried to keep a brave face.

3.  The judges are artists and performers themselves.  Each of these judges has written and performed a Number One hit.  Each of them has toured and played shows for thousands of people.  Each of them is a contemporary artist and they are familiar with the ins and outs of the industry.  They know what it takes to be a success.

4.  Sob stories are kept to a minimum.  I have to admit that when I saw the bald lady coming up on my screen, I figured it was going to be a cancer sob story.  Nope – she is just a ballsy punk type who shaves her head.  You really have no idea what a relief that was.  I saw five minutes of James Durbin’s Idol audition where he cried because his baby didn’t have food or diapers, and I was fucking out of there.  James Durbin, I have only seen you on TV for ten minutes and your name fills me with loathing and bile beyond which I have never known.  But I digress.  What I am trying to say is that you aren’t going to hear this type of sob story that often on The Voice.

5.  Differences are celebrated, not hidden.  There are several gay contestants on The Voice, and it’s treated as a fact, same as hair color or height and weight.  Poor Clay Aiken had to hide in the closet for years after Idol because his midwest American fans would have been scandalized.  Granted, this might just be a sign of the times, but I do think it has something to do with the attitude of the producers and judges.  I love me some Simon Cowell, but he is a homophobic bastard.

The Voice airs on Tuesdays on NBC at 9pm Eastern, 8pm Central.  If you live in Austin, then keep a look out for Nakia because he’s been DJing and playing shows with his band The Grifters!  I’m hoping to catch him before he becomes a superstar.  I really think he’s got potential to be in the finals.  Good luck, Nakia!