When Childhood Idols Say Stupid Things

I came dangerously close to becoming a Smiths fanatic. You know, one of those painfully intellectual misanthropes who comb through Morrissey's lyrics for all life's answers? That could have been me, had I not spent my youth rocking out to Warrant and Poison. It should have been me: I was that weird, arty, vegan kid who despised pretty much everything, only my music didn't match up. I was still listening to party rock. Morrissey's songs of self-loathing would have been perfectly tailored to my teenage angst.

I did eventually discover The Smiths and, by then, Moz's solo records, but I was well into my twenties by then and all that self-loathing had lost much of its appeal. Still, I appreciated the music. And I actually liked the guy. He was clever, self-deprecating, sexually ambiguous, and very English. Plus, he was a huge supporter of animal rights. He also had a bad habit of running off at the mouth. Reading his latest interview for The Guardian, I see nothing's changed. I think Gawker came out of this kerfuffle with the best headline, though: Washed-Up Morrissey: Still Racist, Still Worshiped:
Besides the depressing fact that Morrissey still makes music, he always gets a pass for making racist remarks just because he's Morrissey. He's back at it in a new interview with Guardian Weekend, where he calls Chinese people "a subspecies."
In a separate article in The Guardian , Tom Clark says:
It's an unfortunate facet of a complex character, but we fans should not feel obliged to disown the music we love, any more than opera enthusiasts should have to close their ears to Wagner because of his objectionable views.
I don't know. I've disowned many a "great artist" for behavior I, and many others, find reprehensible. (Polanski anyone?) I'm not an opera buff, but I can't listen to Wagner. I wrote a post years ago for another website asking, "Where do you draw the line when one of your idols screws up royally?" Can you separate the art from the artist, or are some things too egregious to ignore?

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