My Spat With Boy George
My spat with Boy George has shown me Twitter has given too many idiots too loud a voice; and sometimes, that idiot can be you, an adored icon or a perfect stranger. I found this out first hand when the first real communication I’ve had with someone I’ve loved for four decades wasn’t pleasant. It hurt, but more than that, it caused me to behave in a way I did not like; but one totally acceptable on social media.
Tuesday, July 21st, I again went on to Twitter to see what the outrages of the day were; to distract myself from being at home A LOT. It’s an easy way to avoid the blues from not being able to travel to see family and friends, not being able to go do my job on stages in different cities, to not live any kind of quality life because of a Pandemic. Like so many of you, I’m frustrated with, well, everything. And like the world, I’ve been riveted to the #BLM Black Lives Matter movement and all that George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many more names, too many, and to the great social change they are brining about everywhere.
And, I have taken the message to heart; the message of silence is no longer acceptable, that we all have a part in dismantling hatred and systemic racism and bigotries against People of Color and all the underrepresented and ignored (including Trans, LGBT, Immigrants, Asian, Etc.). And, we all have to admit and deal with our part in it honestly and brutally. I have, and I realize I am as guilty as the next White guy. I thought being Gay made me more receptive, more “on the same level” as the other minorities out there when it came to the Oppression meter. I was so wrong. My skin color always took precedence, even over my gayness, in so many situations. Now, the Police have really been no friend of mine, or any LGBT person that I know. In the 70s, 80s, and 90s, there was open brutality and hostility towards the LGBT community. The same pattern of very little follow up on crimes, slurs, putting people in cells where they don’t belong, tons of harassment’s of gay bars and businesses…on and on. And let’s talk about the politicians, police and fire officials that dealt with the Upstairs Lounge tragedy at some other point. BUT, I was still White. If I had been Black, in some of those encounters over the years, I may not be typing this now. And that’s just the truth.
And yes, getting a job as an openly gay entertainer hasn’t been the easiest, which is why so many stayed in the closet. Ask internet darling Leslie Jordan about life being gay in entertainment in the 80s and beyond. And before. His stories are riveting, and tragic. But ask Billy Porter about being Black and Gay even in the 2000s and you’ll hear even worse.
Or ask Boy George about being out and proud in the 1980s; ask him about telling the Grammy audience and America “They know a good Drag Queen When they See One…” one before RuPaul had eyelashes. He has been pushing boundaries, redefining where the line is since “Time Clock of The Heart” in 1982 and I have loved every single minute of it. In my career on TV, Radio and in Print, I’ve interviewed so many icons of mine and the world’s; Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Bono, President Carter, President Clinton, new stars like Emelî Sandé and Dance Divas one and all. I was on #1 Talk Radio for decades and basically every entertainer, scientist, politician or newsmaker came through the show. In print, from the Advocate to Billboard and beyond, I’ve chatted with so many. But never, ever Boy George. I’ve wanted to for decades, he’s so provocative, so intelligent in print and in song and been on the right side of so many issues. He is a true icon.
I rallied for him through drug abuse. I wanted the DJ resurrection. I hated when he got in trouble for leaving someone handcuffed…and loved when singles came out with his now lower, different voice. And when he was chosen as a judge on Australia’s “The Voice” I couldn’t have been happier. Because in my mind, of all people, he really was, in my mind, deserving of continuing being the famous Boy George until he chose not to be.
Let the Tweets Begin
So, I follow him on Twitter. And yesterday, July 22nd, 2020, he sent this Tweet:
And the last line got to me: @Wearebrando channeling mother Morrissey dressed up as @jowhiley
“Channeling Mother Morrissey” in a song that he was lip syncing. Now, I am not a fan of Morrissey, my late husband, Andrew Howard, adored him. I thought he was maudlin and full of self pity but people liked it, so hey, what do I know, I’m not selling out venues. Then, in recent times, I read story after story of how he had become a White Nationalist. In this story from the Guardian:
“When asked about how he felt at being called a racist for various controversial comments he has made in the past, he responded: “If you call someone racist in modern Britain you are telling them that you have run out of words. You are shutting the debate down and running off. The word is meaningless now. Everyone ultimately prefers their own race — does this make everyone racist?”
Morrissey has faced criticism over previous comments about race, which include describing the Chinese as a “subspecies” and claiming “halal slaughter requires certification that can only be given by supporters of Isis”.”
One quick Google search will pull up horrific quotes about race from Morrissey, stories of record stores banning his records, critics dismayed and…supporters.Not to me, supporting this man just seems to spit in the face of what #BLM stands for, racial injustice. And Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant stance has put children in cages and caused untold death and suffering.So, Like an idiot, I fired off a Tweet to Boy George never expecting in a billion years he’d see it really.
“Morrissey is a racist dote. Please move on from this man. His statements about Muslims are beyond the pale…”
That is what I said. And immediately someone posted “Beyond the Pale” is racist. It isn’t, see here from Conde Naste.
Anyway, as you see, he tweeted back. My heart stopped when I saw he sent me a tweet. I was beside myself and then I read it:
“You move on, I like the Smiths.”
I was crushed. Truly. My first interaction…was that. And, I was angry. Because it is my firm believe we can no longer just say hey, they made great art, Morrissey was just a member of the band, blah blah.
If Donald Trump made hit records, should we forgive him? George W. Bush paints ugly oil paintings people love, everybody seems to be hugging him from the Obamas to Ellen. Me? George W. Bush is an un-indicted war criminal who caused the death of thousands of Americans, removed our stature in the World, and stood on TV and said my right to marry should be amendment out of the Constitution. He has never apologized for any of it, including Abu Ghraib. He has never apologized to Cindy Sheehan for making her wait for a never-coming answer. No, I don’t care if he can sing the Diva Dance from “The Fifth Element” (nearly impossible) or can paint like Picasso.
Hitler probably loved puppies or did origami. Who cares.
So an icon, promoting an anti-immigrant racist through a tweet, calling him “Mother Morrissey” and then telling me to move on because he likes the Smiths made me become well, a Twidiot.
Becasue I was set off by that he was implying, I know he’s racists, but I like it. If we take all the art down, silence all the songs from people who have sinned…NO. I detest that argument.
First of all, most artists are not felons or major criminals. Many a film director exists that hasn’t had sex with an underage girl or boy (well, I want to believe). Many a record has been recorded by a person that doesn’t call Chinese a subspecies or say the Mayor of London is a disgrace because of his accent and heritage. You know who says that? Donald Trump. Bigots. Racists.
So I fire back with something along the lines of,
“Please say you don’t support this man or his views. Do you? I’d really like to hear you views as I may do a story on this for Medium. Because if you do then drugs must have addled you brain. And in today’s cancel culture I’d be careful which side you choose, ”
or something to that effect.
Well, what a monumental idiot my anger made me. First of all, if I really did want his opinion for an article, call his publicist, get an interview, do the job. Don’t play on Twitter, it’s not the real world. In fact, every moment you spend on social media is a moment you are not in the real world. But I didn’t.
Second, don’t ever throw anyone’s past addiction in their face. I was hurt and lashing out. And it was wrong and if I knew him personally, I would apologize. I can’t quote the tweet exactly, because in shame, I took it down. Yes, shame.
Third, I hate cancel culture. Yes, we must weed out the cancers of racism, bigotry and hatred. And we must stop promoting things and people, companies, anything that actually supports people that support such harmful cancerous views. They are a cancer and they are overwhelming the world and killing us. We must root it out. But cancel culture is not the way.
Now, I was actually concerned, believe it or not. If Boy George is seen as sympathetic to Morrissey’s views, even on Twitter, he could get fired. It could spin out of control. I would not in a billion years want that. And I don’t have the following or the influence to even do such a thing or start it. But things happen, Tweets get out there.
So the response I expected of “I Hate his views but still love the music” isn’t what I got.I believe that’s a wrong stance, but at least that’s what I thought I’d get. I didn’t, I got hurt, I wrote a dumb tweet.
Then comes back from Boy George
“How About I Cancel You?”
Wow. So, now we are hours in to this. The comments are exploding, all hating me. I’m being called so many things I won’t even paste them. One asked if I’m such a social crusader do I have my “pronouns” in my bio? So what if I do? And you follow Boy George and make such a statement? And George says nothing about that? OK.
But I’m the bad guy now. Not the racist, Morrissey. Not Boy George for promoting and calling him “Mother Morrissey.” But me, for speaking up and saying maybe it’s time to move on from this guy. Sure, after that I got stupid, but suddenly I’m the bad guy.
And maybe I was. I was lost in a lot of emotion by this point because of Covid and living in Las Vegas, where we have no leadership and it’s out of control. Because my total life is gone and I have to construct a new one. I don’t have “The Voice” or royalties from hit records. And I can’t cancel someone, but a millionaire pop star with a huge following could, in fact, cause me grief.
I fire back,
“You can’t cancel me. You can’t do anything. My dog will still love me, my friends…”
on and on.
Then the attacks come so I delete my account, I pledge to never go back on Twitter, that it’s for idiots. I stress and in a huff, delete the app.
The next day, I feel like I retreated, like I let someone bully me off by his followers going after me. I feared Boy George’s wrath, would someone dox me? He can’t control his followers. Or Morrissey fans. And in today’s world…but, I logged back on because I have a show and even thought I only have 3000 followers, hey, they follow me, so I should do something.
Twitter and Boy George fans had moved on, my decree of I’m out of here, this is ridiculous, proven premature.
But the noise? Still there.
That’s all Twitter is: noise. It’s not information, certainly. You’ll argue there’s some on there, and there is, but, it’s lost in the noise. Yes, protests and movements use it to their advantage, but there were protests before Twitter, they’d manage. Yes it helps catch cops and criminals and bad behavior by putting that video out there immediately. But TV, News media and other outlets could get it out there as well, quickly, on their airwaves. And it gives Donald Trump a voice hourly, a voice that is killing us. And it gives Morrissey a voice and Boy George and myself. And what’s worse, it gives everyone with a smart phone a voice, including those saying things that just aren’t good for society, views that shouldn’t be promoted, people that should be forgotten.
And yesterday, I turned in to a Twidiot with my exchange with someone I love. On my web and podcast show I went off on him because his fans went off on me. How dare they question me, what has he done? Gotten hooked on drugs, blew all his money, tied someone to a wall…oh, I went there. And meant none of it . Yes he’s made some bad choices, as his books will attest, but he’s survived them and been a diva through it all. He deserves all the respect and love I do or anyone. He’s not a racist as far as I know, he supports equality and diversity to the best of my knowledge, and he’s a great gay role model in my eyes. I know that sounds odd given his past, but he only hurt himself. He really never tried to harm others. He did not deserve my anger, did he? I honeslty don’t know. Not that he knows or cares. But still, was I wrong for putting it out there? Because I can’t answer that question, best to leave Twitter alone personally and only use it professionally.
There’s so much noise on Twitter, and so many that are just wrong for putting it out there. Like Boy George.
Sir, if you want to listen to a racist anti-immigrant artist that is, in fact, your business. But you make it my business, your fan’s business, when you put your support or adoration for that person in a public forum. And the debate over Morrissey is over: there are plenty other artists from the era to love. If you love him, keep it to yourself because it means you are willing to forgive just a little too much. Morrissey is guilty by his own words.
But it taught me that on twitter, even I can become a Twidiot. And it showed me that sometimes icons disappoint and that an entire day tailspinning about it is a waste.
Think about how much emotion you invest in Social Media and the exchanges on it. It’s a bad investment. Thank you Boy George for showing me what was in front of me all along: Twitter should be used to promote my shows; my shows should be used to promote my views. Twitter should be a place to promote my writing, not a place to leave ideas in under 200 characters.
My hero and mentor in radio, the incredible David G. Hall, media consultant and former program director of KFI and so much more, forbade me from checking my email when we first took over afternoon drive, making history Andrew and I. Because it was crippling me, I could not understand all the hatred from strangers about two guys being on air. It was really bad, even death threats (I still get those, liberal, gay, on air, live in Nevada…) So, someone read them and gave me the ones I needed.
Looks like I’ll be handing my social media duties for my shows and endeavors off to someone else. I was part of the noise on Twitter, and the noise was obviously deafening me to my good judgement. Like it is so many. I’ll stay on Instagram as I love photos. I know it’s Facebook, Zuckerberg, evil. Wait, I know the owner is evil and anti-democracy, but I like Instagram. Am I Boy George? I may have to just post photos on my website and then post a promo for the photo on Instagram, or give it up. Because we have to do something.
Some of the worst technology to be adopted in America is Facebook and Twitter. So from now on, I’m going to try and stop making noise on it and get back out of the virtual world and back in to the real.
And as for my spat with Boy George, well, I will always be a fan even if he disliked my tweets. But I hope he lays off promoting racists in today’s world. We just don’t need the noise.