Morrissey‘s manager Peter Katsis wasn’t a fan of The Simpsons‘ latest episode on Sunday (April 18) and how it portrayed the 61-year-old English singer.
Katsis slammed the Fox cartoon sitcom after the “Panic on the Streets of Springfield” episode — a spoof of The Smiths‘ 1986 single “Panic” — included a parody with a character named Quilloughby (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), who portrays Lisa Simpson’s new imaginary friend in the form of “a depressed British singer from the 1980s.”
The two attend a concert toward the end of the episode, where the real-life Quilloughby walks out on stage with his stomach protruding from his vest and confesses that the show is just a “cash grab.” He also complains that veganism “was invented by foreigners of whom there are far too many on this planet” and subsequently yelling racist and xenophobic comments.
Tim Long, who wrote the episode, told Stereogum ahead of Sunday that Quilloughby is “definitely Morrissey-esque, with maybe a small dash of Robert Smith from The Cure, Ian Curtis from Joy Division, and a bunch of other people.” But Katsis wasn’t quite thrilled to have his client be the character’s inspiration.
“Poking fun at subjects is one thing. Other shows like SNL still do a great job at finding ways to inspire great satire,” he wrote in a lengthy critique on Facebook. “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. Even worse – calling the Morrissey character out for being a racist, without pointing out any specific instances, offers nothing. It only serves to insult the artist. They should take that mirror and hold it up to themselves.”
He referenced The Simpsons voice actor Hank Azaria’s apology for promoting Indian stereotypes through his character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from the show’s inception in 1989 to 2020, when he stepped down from the role because of its “unintended consequences for people – kids growing up in this country, Indian and South Asian kids growing up in this country.” The show producers also issued a statement last summer about white actors no longer voicing non-white characters.
Katsis went on to defend Morrissey in his objection of the 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,” he wrote. “By suggesting all of the above in this episode … the Simpson’s hypocritical approach to their storyline says it all.”
BMG dropped the singer from their artist roster in November 2020 due to its “new plans for ‘diversity,'” according to a statement on Morrissey’s website. He’s been embroiled in a series of real-life controversies over the past few years, including his defense of Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein amidst the #MeToo movement, his claim that “Hitler was Left wing,” his controversial pin that he wore during his Jimmy Fallon performance in support of the far-right Islamophobic political party For Britain, among others.
Katsis told Rolling Stone that he was unsure if Morrissey had seen the episode, and noted, “I hope he hasn’t watched it, to be honest.”
Billboard has reached out to Fox and The Simpsons for comment.