"I Forbid You To Like It:" The Smiths, David Cameron, and the Politics of (Mis)appropriating Popular Culture

Stephen R. Millar

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The Smiths were a critically acclaimed 1980s “indie” band that achieved cult-status within the five years they were musically active. Several studies on fandom have focused on The Smiths, particularly its frontman Morrissey, whose “apostles” are among the most committed on the popular music circuit. Yet British Prime Minister David Cameron’s repeated claims to Smiths fandom have been rebuked by fans, and the band themselves, as being incompatible with his right-wing political program; former Smiths guitarist and songwriter Johnny Marr tweeted: “David Cameron, stop saying you like The Smiths, no you don’t. I forbid you to like it.”

    This article proceeds from the possibility that David Cameron was not being cynical in professing his admiration for The Smiths and considers music’s role in the embodiment of a social identity. Drawing on recent examples in the UK and the US, the article explores politicians’ problematic relationship with popular culture, alongside the notion that when an artist’s music is appropriated, they themselves are appropriated.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEcho: A Music-Centered Journal
    Volume13
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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