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Get the Hell off Twitter, Morrissey

No one wants you to communicate with them while you're on the toilet.

Image by Victoria Sin

Morrissey is now on Twitter. We're doomed. But I guess that's progress.

In olden times, you had to wait ages for Morrissey to say that the Chinese were little yellow fungal spores splattered unevenly across the planet who should use their burgeoning space program to build a big rocketship that could cart them all off to the nuclear heart of the sun.

Honestly, under-25s, it was a whole process. First, a journalist had to be summoned. Then the negotiations as to whether the banner headlines would over-summarize his racial opinions had to be undertaken with a publicist. A venue needed to be found. And a journalist to put his or her tapes in the tape recorder, and ask two questions: “How are you?” and “Do you think the Smiths will ever reform?” An hour later, a groaning tape recorder full of glib jokes and moans would have to be sent off for transcription. Finally, days, weeks, months later, the world would finally know what was wrong with the Chinese (they are a sub-species), and how it could be fixed (with flaming astral death). The headline-writers would then load up their headlines: "Bigmouth Strikes Again!" or something. Then the opinion writers would be summoned to put together essays about how He Really Has Gone Too Far This Time. Then a plucky freelancer would have to be dug up to rail against the backlash, and on and on, forever.

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Now, all of that shit is going to be INSTANT. “Cut off the head of Dappy,” Morrissey will poke, one finger at a time, into his Samsung S5, and the three saps who write all the music news blogs will go: “Morrissey Stokes Controversy as He Urges Dappy Beheading.” “You’ll Never Guess What Morrissey Has Said Now…” Gawker will tease. “Beheading Dappy: N-Dubz Hitmaker Hits Back at Moz” the HuffPo will wail, despite its readers having no particular interest in either person.

On the face of it, it's a slightly weird move for Morrissey to make, given that baiting the modern world has long been his favorite hobby. Attention is still his twisted currency, though, and there’s always been an obvious Wildean edge to his extremism, so the fact that he has found his way onto the globe’s most efficient mechanism for winding people up seems to fit in well.

As a guy who delights in being misunderstood and feeling slightly persecuted, his masochistic joy will be untold. The world would not be what it is if arrows did not perennially pierce Morrissey’s side. On Twitter, he will find the full richness of that sort of passion play opened up to him. Treacherous souls who’d kick him in the shins will form one line. Partisan angels who’d defend him to death will form another. And between them will commence a battle between Good and Evil not unlike the one described in the Book of Revelations. And that, ultimately, is exactly what the man is after. The pathos is the only kick he has left to him. In his age, Morrissey’s feline ambiguity has hardened into a more crabby certainty. Ideal, perhaps, for the age of the bullet-size, moron-shaped opinion.

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For him, coming down out of his garret into the world of humblebragging may be a useful way to blow off steam. I fear that the rest of us, though, may end up with too much of what we’ve wished for. Morrissey tweeting may be the moment at which the waveform of our new relationship with celebrity collapses in on itself.

It isn’t random chance that Flaubert didn’t devote endless pages of Madame Bovary to her taking a shit or eating her own earwax. Not because Madame Bovary was not capable of taking a shit or eating her own earwax—she was written as a human, so she definitely was. But this was not the impression that Flaubert wished to convey of her.

We expect to be endlessly fed the line that the stars are "just like us." And that’s fine, in a way. The celebrity super-surveillance society has its advantages. But as ever, once you get pure unmediated access to a star, you’ll never run away from the idea of Emma Bovary taking a crap in her shitter. For Smiths diehards, the fear will always be there that Morrissey is actually just like us. That the man cruising around Los Angeles in a 4x4, benching 200 pounds in his home gym, and perspiring heavily while taking his dogs for walks in Griffin Park isn’t the same creature as the man eternally caught between oppressive gray clouds and an oppressive brown quiff in Thatcher's Manchester. For the sake of art, we’d prefer it if he existed as an unwavering band of light, a glowing orb of consciousness who neither adds to nor subtracts from what his finer works show of him. Like any fictional character, really, you expect that when you put the book down, they will stay where they lie.

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Hello. Testing, 1, 2, 3. Planet Earth, are you there? One can only hope…

— Morrissey (@itsmorrissey) May 14, 2014

For instance, does anybody really want Morrissey to be a man who complains about the quality of the taco he has recently purchased in a Taco Bell, holding said taco up to ridicule by taking a picture of it and posting, to his hundreds of thousands of followers: "Drowned in sauce… but probably never alive to begin with. What further humiliation for this innocent flatbread, @tacobell?” The thought of it is just dispiriting.

Don’t think it won’t happen. This is a man who devoted 120 pages of his recent autobiography to laboriously recounting a libel trial with the unblinking gaze of a court stenographer. Perhaps Morrissey is no longer best placed to understand what it is the public wants from him. I mean, he spent as much time addressing just why Mike Joyce had no right to a proportionate share of the royalties on some 80s indie records as he did on his childhood. Ultimately, the medium is the message, and Morrissey will be as constrained by the culture he swims in as anyone else. Expect the Chinese, but also expect tacos, expect articles from Business Insider on "visualizing the global debt" and inspiring nature photography you won’t believe wasn’t Photoshopped.

A Morrissey in your pocket is a Tamagotchi you’ll wish you'd never fed or watered. It will lie there in so-many kilobytes. Being quotidian. Then being obstreperous. Then just being a bit uncomfortable, dull, or crudely wide-of-the-mark, like a re-release bonus track from Maladjusted. Then being pushed by the irresistible 140-character-per-hour force of Twitter into exactly the same cartoon shape as Cher, Emma Bunton, Russell Brand, and Lewis Hamilton. No longer leonine or otherworldly, simply another schtick puppet jiggling through his own schtick in the schtick zoo for the amusement of people on trains who are too afraid of their own thoughts to look out the window.

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That's not the Morrissey we want. But it's the Morrissey that Twitter has in store for us.

Follow Gavin on Twitter

More Morrissey:

Political Commentators I'd Like Morrissey to Write a Song About

Morrissey's Moral Hierarchy

Mozipedia