The Simpsons are well-known for lambasting celebrities, and now they've parodied an iconic '80s singer as a "huge racist." In Sunday night's episode, titled "Panic On The Streets Of Springfield," former Smith's frontman Morrissey was seemingly lampooned in the form of a fictional character named Quilloughby. Actor Benedict Cumberbatch guest-starred in the episode, performing as the voice of Quilloughby. Notably, Flight of the Conchords star Bret McKenzie also contributed to the character, providing song lyrics for the moody crooner.
In the episode, Lisa Simpson discovered and grew to be a huge fan of Quilloughby, but when she discovered that the older, modern-day version of the singer had become negative and xenophobic, her perception is shattered. Simpsons writer Tim Long told Stereogum that the character was inspired by a number of 80s emo and new wave stars, such as Robert Smith of the Cure and Ian Curtis of Joy Division. However, fans of the show picked up on the similarities between Quilloughby and Morrissey pretty quickly.
In response to The Simpsons episode, a lengthy statement was posted to Morrissey's Facebook page — which is run by his management team — reading in part, "Surprising what a 'turn for the worst' the writing for The Simpson's tv show has taken in recent years," the statement read. "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. Other shows like SNL still do a great job at finding ways to inspire great satire."
The message eventually ended by reading, "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."
The accusations of racism against Morrissey date back years, with the earliest appearing to be in 2010 when he was criticizing animal abuse in China. "Did you see the thing on the news about [China's] treatment of animals and animal welfare? Absolutely horrific. You can't help but feel that the Chinese are a subspecies," he said, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
In 2018, Morrissey mocked London's Mayor Sadiq Khan, calling the city "debased" and writing of Kahn's accent, "He cannot talk properly!" Morrissey was also an avid support of Brexit, Britain's exit from the European Union, and donned a For Britain pin during a 2019 Tonight Show performance. Many British citizens recognized this as an indication of support for anti-Islamist politician Anne Marie Waters, who formed the group around 2017.