Drawing the Line: Matty Healy's Controversies Expose Our Double Standards"

A candid look at the 'controversies' surrounding Matty Healy, the lead vocalist of 1975, and how they highlight the prevailing double standards. This piece delves into issues of racism and performative activism and questions what seems to be selective outrage when it comes to public figures.


Georgia Smith-Marr

7/24/20234 min read

Let's play a game. Who said it? (Or who did it?) Borris Jonson or Matty Healy? Ready, set, go!

If you guessed Matty Healy for all of them, you'd be correct. Although if you also guessed some of them could be Borris, you'd also be correct. There is some similar overlap

And this is the issue.

For those that don't know, Matty Healy is the frontman for the band 1975 and nepo man-baby of British actors Tim Healy and Denise Welch. He first came on my radar as the love interest of Taylor Swift (apparently their romance didn't last as long as the ten-minute edition of All Too Well). The reaction of Swifties was mixed with some not caring some criticising her dating a known racist. Others claimed that this criticism was inherently sexist because it blamed the woman for the man's actions. And people criticised that as whitefeminism. But I digress. Either way, you can probably tell, he's no stranger to 'controversies'. And he's no stranger to being defended by those who claim to be progressive, anti-racist and feminist.

Healy recently hit the headlines for kissing a man on stage in Malaysia and criticising their government on LGBTQIA+ issues. He claimed that he didn't research before and that was a mistake. The band are now banned from Malaysia, and the entire festival was stopped due to his actions.

I've seen some (ant-racists, progressive, feminists) support Healy's actions because to simply it: 'Yay LGBTQIA+ rights! Boo, backwards country!' And this - this isn't it.

Malaysians are taking to TikTok to express disappointment and are criticising Healy's actions. @whoisxuen argues that he disappointed fans who bought tickets while @akidnamedrufus believes that Healy has now potentially put those in the LGBTQIA+ community at risk because the government could take a harsher stance against them. And we should listen to them. He has also been called out by @natalieisasleep for acting like a white saviour. A straight white man goes to another land, telling them how they need to do things and ends up potentially putting more people in harm's way. I think they may be on to something.

Healy's actions are part of a pattern. Going to countries who are anti-LGBTQIA+ and makes a show and dance which consistently leads him (and his band) to be banned. His actions are performative. Instead of simply not going and putting out a statement to share the reasons, along with resources, he takes the money and makes it about him. In British and American culture, talking about politics on stage is nothing new. However other cultures differ and might prefer different approaches to discuss these issues. To assume that the country will respond to your way of doing things is not just ignorant, but given in the context that he is a white man from the UK - it's giving coloniser.

To be clear, I am against any government that is against LGBTQIA+ rights. However the people are not the government, and there are LGBTQIA+ people in those countries. To go to another country, another culture, and behave how you would in your own and then expect to change things is the definition of colonialism and white saviours. Healy could have not performed there, opting instead to release a statement. He could have released resources and information. He could have researched and educated himself on the nuances. There are different avenues he could have taken.

But let's not leave it there. We need to widen the context and put all of this behaviour in the context of Healy's Islamaphobia. He does this performance in Muslim countries, and yet he's never done this in the USA where they are rolling back women's rights and the rights of LGBTQIA+ people. His 'protests' are not him standing up for the community, instead, are an extension of his Islamaphobia.

Something that strikes me is the defence of him. He has links to Anti-Semitism, he has been openly Islamaphobic, openly sexist and openly racist. And yet those on the left still support him. If someone like Borris Johson said that, they would be called out. And rightly so. So why are we blindly excepting and celebrating Healy?

Feminism, anti-racism, and fighting for LGBQIA+ rights don't happen in a vacuum. We need to start going beyond the centricity of the global north (specifically the UK and USA) and acknowledge what colonialism looks like in 2023. The UK may not have colonies as it did years ago, but the coloniser attitude still remains - and Matty Healy personifies it. And it doesn't seem like he's learning from any of it.

I'm not saying don't listen to 1975. I'm not saying do. I'm giving you a reminder: just because he's 'hot' (I personally don't see it but hey), in a band, and claims to be left-wing, edgy in an art school dropout kind of way, that doesn't excuse his misogyny, racism, Islamaphobia and Anti-Semitism.

Matty Healy singing on stage in a blue, white and black shity which is slightly open.Matty Healy singing on stage in a blue, white and black shity which is slightly open.

Photo source: © Tudor Marian Dreamstime.com

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