Morrissey's manager slams 'hurtful' and 'racist' parody of singer on 'The Simpsons'

The satirical episode, which featured the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch, was broadcast in the US this week

GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 24: Morrissey performs live on the pyramid stage during the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Pilton on June 24, 2011 in Glastonbury, England. The festival, which started in 1970 has grown into Europe's largest music festival attracting more than 175,000 people over five days  (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
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He's famous for tracks such as The Boy With the Thorn in His Side, and the latest episode of The Simpsons has certainly struck a nerve with Morrissey.

The British singer, who fronted 1980s favourites The Smiths, appears to be displeased with a new portrayal in the animated series, with the star's manager saying he was the subject of a "hurtful" and "racist" parody.

In the episode Panic on the Streets of Springfield, which aired in the US on Sunday, Benedict Cumberbatch voices the character of Quilloughby, the moody star of fictional band The Snuffs.

In the satirical show, Quilloughby shares many similarities with Morrissey, such as veganism, 1980s fame and a distinctive hairdo.

However, the character is revealed to be a figment of Lisa Simpson's imagination, as he morphs into an overweight, anti-immigrant, meat-eater.

After the show was broadcast, Morrissey's manager, Peter Katsis, took to the singer's official Facebook page to criticise the representation.

"Surprising what a 'turn for the worst' the writing for The Simpsons TV show has taken in recent years," the statement reads.

“Poking fun at subjects is one thing … 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.”

Morrissey is known for his controversial comments, such as accusing London Mayor Sadiq Khan of being unable to "talk properly". He wore a badge supporting the far-right For Britain political party during a televised performance in 2019.

Katsis also referenced Hank Azaria's recent apology for voicing the character of Kwik-E-Mart operator Apu, saying the portrayal reinforced "structural racism".

"Part of me feels like I need to go around to every single Indian person in this country and personally apologise, and sometimes I do when it comes up," Azaria told the Armchair Expert podcast this month.

"Not surprising ... that The Simpsons viewership ratings have gone down so badly over recent years," Katsis added.

The statement also shone a spotlight on Cumberbatch's participation, with Morrissey's manager querying why the actor agreed to the role.

"Could he be that hard up for cash that he would agree to bad rap another artist that harshly?" said Katsis. "Clearly he would have read the outline or script before he took the gig."

The episode's writer, however, previously told Variety that Quilloughby was not solely based on Morrissey.

"I'm sticking by that," said Tim Long. "The character 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."