Meaning of “Bengali in Platforms” by Morrissey

Bengali in Platforms is a song performed by British singer Morrissey from his debut solo album Viva Hate. The song tells the story of a Bengalis boy who lives in the United Kingdom and tries everything within his power to fit into the British society but fails. In the song, the narrator (Morrissey) advises the young Bengali to “shelve” his “western” ambitions and know that life is difficult “enough when you belong here”. We don’t know whether the Bengalis boy takes the narrator’s (Morrissey’s) advice or keeps on trying to embrace the British culture so he can fit in.

The song, which is one of Morrissey’s most controversial songs, has over the years been condemned by many who find it to be insulting to Asians. However, there are also many others who constantly jump to the singer’s defense saying they simply see nothing wrong with the song’s lyrics.

Our Favorite Line from the Song

Here is our favorite line from the lyrics of Bengali in Platforms: Bengali in Platforms

NOTE: For readers who are not aware of who a Bengali (also known as Bengalese) is, a Bengali is one who come comes from Bengal, a geopolitical region located in India and Bangladesh. After the United States, the United Kingdom is the western country with the biggest population of Bengalis. There are almost half a million Bengalis currently living in Morrissey’s native land, the United Kingdom.

Facts about “Bengali in Platforms”

  • The song was written by Morrissey and producer Stephen Street, who was responsible for the production of the song.
  • The song was released on 22nd March, 1988.
  • Morrissey got the song’s title shortly before the Smiths disbanded.
  • Bengali in Platforms is one of Morrissey’s most controversial songs. Upon the release of the song, many Asian’s were upset by the song’s lyrics, which they felt was racist.

3 Responses

  1. Fergusonflutter says:

    Song sounds endearing to the struggles of Bengalis being accepted in the UK which represent 0.7% of the population. Bengalis known for their Indian cuisine, have restaurants in most large towns. Yes, modern women all like to wear platforms and why not, it is fashionable and so can British Bengali people.
    The song may be misinterpreted when knowingMorrissey’s narrow point of view in his small world of little Britons. I like the song, I don’t think it is racist though. Shame about the singer/song writer’s political feeling towards people of the world, he is there to be exploited by the media too.

  2. Trey Smith says:

    “Life is hard enough when you belong here.” The beauty of that lyric is it easily could be interpreted many different ways. It isn’t just about the Bengalis, it’s about Morrissey not feeling he belongs here (on earth), it’s a line that easily could be about gender inequality, homosexuality, who knows? This is Morrissey. He loves attention and hates attention. He loves to write shocking lyrics (Meat is Murder, The Queen is Dead, Margaret on a Guillotine, I Have Forgiven Jesus, National Front Disco, Home is a Question Mark) just to name a few.

    Morrissey was controversial from his beginning with The Smiths And with this song on his first solo album, there is nothing in the tone of his voice, or the music itself which would lead a listener to think he’s anti-Asian. The more controversial line is really “shelve your
    Western plans,” but when it’s followed by “life is hard enough when you belong here,” it could easily as be an indictment of the West as a slap at the Bengalis.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Svengali in platforms, high heels…

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