On Sunday night, a new episode titled Panic On The Streets Of Springfield – a play on The Smiths song Panic – aired in the US, introducing viewers to Lisa Simpson’s new imaginary friend, Quilloughby.
Quilloughby bore more than a striking resemblance to Morrissey in the 1980s, sporting a quiff and similar fashion to the singer.
The character was also heard singing songs with titles similar to Smiths songs including How Late Is Then, Hamburger Is Homicide, and Everyone Is Horrid Except Me (And Possibly You).
Later in the episode, Lisa goes to see the real Quilloughby in concert, but is disappointed to discover he’d become bitter, anti-immigration and ate meat.
After the episode aired, the character – voiced by former Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch – was blasted by Morrissey, first in a statement from his management and later more directly by the man himself.
A statement posted on Morrissey’s Facebook page said: “Surprising what a ‘turn for the worst’ the writing for The Simpson’s [sic] tv show has taken in recent years.
“Sadly, The Simpson’s show started out creating great insight into the modern cultural experience, but has since degenerated to trying to capitalize on cheap controversy and expounding on vicious rumors.
“Poking fun at subjects is one thing… but when a show stoops so low to use harshly hateful tactics like showing the Morrissey character with his belly hanging out of his shirt (when he has never looked like that at any point in his career) makes you wonder who the real hurtful, racist group is here.”
The statement also accused The Simpsons of a double standard, in light of the controversy surrounding the show’s long-running Apu character.
“Calling the Morrissey character out for being a racist, without pointing out any specific instances, offers nothing,” the How Soon Is Now singer’s team continued. “It only serves to insult the artist.
“They should take that mirror and hold it up to themselves. Simpson’s actor Hank Azaria’s recent apology to the whole country of India for his role in upholding “structural racism” says it all.
“Unlike the character in the Simpson’s Panic episode [...] Morrissey has never made a ‘cash grab’, hasn’t sued any people for their attacks, has never stopped performing great shows, and is still a serious vegan and strong supporter for animal rights.
“By suggesting all of the above in this episode… the Simpson’s hypocritical approach to their storyline says it all. Truly they are the only ones who have stopped creating, and have instead turned unapologetically hurtful and racist.”
Morrissey later commented on the matter on the fan site Morrissey Central, even suggesting he might have taken legal action were he financially able to do so.
“The hatred shown towards me from the creators of The Simpsons is obviously a taunting lawsuit, but one that requires more funding than I could possibly muster in order to make a challenge,” he wrote.
“Neither do I have a determined business squad of legal practitioners ready to pounce. I think this is generally understood and is the reason why I am so carelessly and noisily attacked.”
He continued: “Since my very first interview several decades ago I have lived with horrible accusations to such a degree that it is generally understood that ‘this is how we write about Morrissey’. In other words, I’m quite used to it. I’ve had enough horror thrown at me that would kill off a herd of bison.
“Accusations usually come from someone with a crazed desire for importance; they don’t operate at a very high level. Writing for The Simpsons, for example, evidently requires only complete ignorance. But all of these things are too easy for me to say.
“In a world obsessed with Hate Laws, there are none that protect me.”
Morrissey has dismissed accusations of racism throughout his career, including after voicing his support for Anne Marie Waters’ anti-Islam party For Britain.
During an appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s US talk show in 2019, Morrissey sported a pin in support of the party, sparking a backlash.
He said shortly afterwards: “The word [racist] is meaningless now. Everyone ultimately prefers their own race – does this make everyone racist?”
In November 2020, it was reported that Morrissey had been dropped by his record label, BMG, with the singer stating: “This news is perfectly in keeping with the relentless galvanic horror of 2020. We would be critically insane to expect anything positive.”