Attention Gen X: It’s time for Shoplifters of the World to (re)unite. The Smiths have a new film.
It’s been a long thirty-four years for Smiths fans. The iconic UK rock band known for frontman Morrissey’s depressing and risqué lyrics and the often-unpredictable guitar sounds of Johnny Marr, who reveled in an anti-pop drone, was only together for five years — from 1982 to 1987. But now, fans get to relive the glory days in full surround sound with a new Smiths-focused feature film, “Shoplifters of the World.”
The film takes an aptly melodramatic Smiths tone — the dark comedy, which features 20 Smiths songs, follows a misguided heartbroken fan in the ’80s who holds a radio station at gunpoint, forcing the DJs to play nothing but Smiths songs after the news of the band’s breakup.
The Smiths’ released four studio albums, one live album, and ten compilations over the decades since their split. While not considered the band’s best record by critics (that title typically goes to their third album, 1986’s “The Queen Is Dead”), 1985’s “Meat Is Murder” may prove to be its most relevant, particularly as Gen X is now the second leading market segment embracing a vegan diet.
“Meat Is Murder” was the first of its kind to bring a strong animal rights message. Morrissey is a longtime vegetarian. Song lyrics exposed the horrors of factory farming and the ethical issues surrounding animal consumption, while screams of animals seemingly at slaughter, set a haunting tone on the title track.
Morrissey went on to speak out on a number of animal rights issues over the decades since the record’s release, supporting PETA and other animal rights organizations.
“Nobody can possibly be so hungry that they need to take a life in order to feel satisfied – they don’t after all, take a human life, so why take the life of an animal?” he wrote in his 2013 autobiography. “Both are conscious beings with the same determination to survive. It is habit, and laziness and nothing else.”
Despite his commitment to animals, Morrissey came under fire for comments many considered racist in 2019. In an interview with his nephew, the singer pledged his support for the far-right, including an anti-Islam party, and claimed “everyone ultimately prefers their own race.”
Directed and written by Stephen Kijak, the film stars Helena Howard, Ellar Coltrane, Elena Kampouris, Nick Krause, and James Bloor. “Shoplifters of the World” will be released in select theaters and on VOD on March 26th.
Image credit: Stephen Wright