Morrissey is one of the three finalists in BBC2’s ‘Living Icon’ middle-class popularity contest.
He’s up against David hush-we-don’t-want-to-frighten-the-gorillas Attenborough and Sir Paul twist-and-shout McCartney.
Now, all such contests are silly by definition, even and perhaps especially when they appear on BBC2. But given the strategic use of the word ‘icon’ I think it needs to be pointed out that the competition is already over as only one of the finalists actually meets the competition’s stated criteria.
David Attenborough is a lovely chap that has taught us so much about creepy crawlies and humming birds over the decades and everyone likes him and everyone is in favour of small furry creatures and big blue planets. But this is why he shouldn’t win. He’s our extremely nice, very concerned posh elderly uncle in safari shorts that knows a great deal about zebra-dung and how to make us excited about it, but he’s not an icon.
As for Sir Paul, whatever his importance forty years ago, he’s now merely a celebrity going through a spectacularly messy divorce involving flying prosthetics. I suspect that even he occasionally forgets what he actually became famous for. Icons have to inspire not affection but devotion. And can you imagine anyone invading the stage to throw themselves at Macca now? Aside from a paramedic, an accountant or someone serving a writ from his ex.
Which leaves us with Mozza. Someone whom people do still regularly throw themselves at onstage, in their own time, despite the onset of middle-age and a middling last album.
He’s self-evidently the only finalist who is and was deserving of the term ‘icon’. In fact, he’s the only performer around anywhere today who commands the kind of devotion that dead stars achieve, or deserve. It doesn’t matter whether you think his voice sounds like someone having their legs sawed off, or whether you hate his dated hairdo – whether you like it or not Morrissey is an Iconically Iconic Icon. So there.
Why? Well, I could tell you to go and see him in concert or borrow a copy of ‘Saint Morrissey’ (which is at least a way of declaring my interest), but I suspect you don’t have the time or the neuroses, so instead I’ll just say that he’s the only person mad enough to have spent his whole life, nay his whole being, becoming an icon – and once he managed that, actually remaining one. Unlike Bowie (who didn’t make it to the final three) he never cashed in his chips. He never clocked off. He never became a ‘brand’. He stayed true to the myth. Imprisoned in it. It was a great, epic, very foolish, very costly sacrifice.
So the least you could do is let him win this bloody ‘icon’ contest (by voting here by Monday).
Mind, if Moz did win he’d probably peevishly turn it down on the grounds that he’s not actually ‘living’.