Sunday night's episode of The Simpsons saw Marvel star Benedict Cumberbatch lend his voice to Quilloughby, a depressed post-punk 1980s musician who becomes Lisa Simpsons' imaginary friend in the episode "Panic on the Streets of Springfield". The character, a pretty clear parody of former Smiths frontman Morrissey, quickly won over audiences but not everyone was so thrilled. Morrissey himself was upset by the episode and now he's lashing out for "harshly hateful" parody.
In the episode, Lisa discovers the music of Quilloughby's band, The Snuffs, while scrolling through a streaming service called "Slapify". Completely fascinated, Lisa ends up summoning Quilloughby as her imaginary friend as she immerses herself in the music -- including such songs as "Hamburger Homicide", a spoof on the Smith's "Meat Is Murder". Toward the end of the episode, Lisa and her imaginary Quilloughby go to a concert to see what the real, contemporary Quilloughby is doing and it's not pretty. He's bitter, bloated, claims to be doing the show as a "cash grab" due to having lost his fortune suing people over true statements, and then makes some problematic statements about veganism being invented by "foreigners" who he then proclaims to hate for "taking our jobs, sleeping with our men".
The episode saw the imaginary Quilloughby leaving Lisa with the parting advice to "don't let him happen to you. Try not to sneer at everything," but the general joke and any overall wisdom was lost on Morrissey. His manager, Peter Katsis, shared a statement to the singer's official Facebook (via Yahoo!) blasting The Simpsons.
"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," Kasis wrote.
"Poking fun at subjects is one thing. Other shows like SNL still do a great job at finding ways to inspire great satire. 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, which you can read in full here, goes on to state that "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."0comments
While Morrissey is less than thrilled, the episode's writer Tim Long told Stereogum ahead of its debut that while there are definitely "Morrissey-esque" elements, the character and episode actually came from his larger love of the music of the post-punk era.
"I grew up as a moody kid obsessed with catchy-yet-depressing indy music from England, so this show was sort of a natural for me," Long explained. "And like Marge, my parents wondered what the hell was wrong with me — they still don’t know."