Music: `Violence comes from Romans, Nazis, Greeks - they were all homosexual'
Ian Brown's latest outburst has stirred up controversy, writes Jennifer Rodger
Friday 03 April 1998
Why the hell not?
"Violence comes from Romans, Nazis, Greeks - they were all homosexual. And I've got gay friends that will back me up. I just think Noel Coward is an old tosser who got on with the Queen Mother and ... I don't think he's anything to be idolised. He's their hero, not ours."
Ian Brown, Melody Maker
Britpoppers tend to pride themselves on the soundness of their views. Step forward Ian Brown to put a stop to all that. The former Stone Rose stands accused of homophobia this week following the above outburst in Melody Maker's singles review pages. The remarks came in response to hearing Divine Comedy's "Marvellous Party" single for Twentieth Century Blues -The Songs of Noel Coward, the proceeds of which go to the Red, Hot, Blue Aids charity. Brown, unsurprisingly, was not available to comment.
"It just came out of nowhere," says Ian Watson, Melody Maker's singles editor. "We printed it word for word, exactly how it was said." Those involved with Twentieth Century Blues were hesitant to get involved. A spokesperson said: "Ian Brown's review of the Divine Comedy single is a personal point of view," adding that Neil Tennant, who conceived the project, "is appalled by Ian Brown's obviously stupid remarks, but doesn't want to enter into a public row."
Why did Melody Maker run the piece? "We felt if we were to take it out that would be protecting Ian Brown," Watson said. "I re-interviewed him on the phone and was amazed that he brought it up again. And the fact that he did, completely unprompted, was a real shock. If we cover it up we are working on the side of homophobia and helping hatred."
It can be surmised from this that it was a calculated statement. Andy Matthew, deputy editor of the gay lifestyle magazine, Attitude, was mystified. "I think he is being very naive, to think that this is going to go unchecked or unnoticed. It seems to me that he hasn't thought about the impact of the words." Matthew took the charitable view that ignorance rather than blatant prejudice was behind the outburst. "If he is trying to say the fascination with gay men is this camp caricature, then I agree with him that these stereotypes shouldn't be encouraged. But to suggest that violence comes from gay men, I find that circumspect. I don't understand where he is coming from. What I don't like is `if someone's gay they're gay', as if that is a problem, and I hope we are years ahead of the time that people think they they are poor, mentally damaged men with a curse. I would like to speak to Ian Brown. I know that Stone Roses and Ian Brown have a lot of gay fans. I think people tend still to not check themselves so much, whereas with rascism, for instance, they do. When it comes to gay issues, you can say whatever you want - it's a laugh and not taken seriously."
Brown has said, "I wanted to try to finish the idea that pop stars are important, that what they said was gospel." At least in that respect, he is correct.
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