Feature

The problematic activism of The 1975’s Matt Healy

I make no bones about the fact that I have had a ridiculous crush on Matty Healy.

Fifteen years ago he’d have been just my type; unkempt hair, skinny, covered in tattoos, and a little bit awkward. I was a shrieking mess when I heard The 1975 was to perform at Rocking the Daisies and at Can Do In the City. But of late – and a bit of research later – my love has somewhat wained.

The argument is tired that musicians should shut up about politics and play their music. It’s stupid reasoning that negates the fact that musicians are – first and foremost – humans. So I’m not here to argue whether or not artists of any kind should be lending their voices to their causes.

Many have criticised hundreds of artists, including the likes of Tom Morello, who is a Harvard political science graduate, that they shouldn’t get political. I suppose we’re forgetting that fact that Morello’s band is called Rage Against the Machine, but I digress. Politics graduates or not, artists are definitely allowed to have opinions and, as far as I’m concerned, they have somewhat of a social responsibility to use their platforms to do what’s right. In fact, musicians are uniquely positioned on a platform to convey messages that other people simply cannot.

The 1975 recently recorded a track with 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, spoke out against LGBT+ discrimination in Dubai, breaking a law in the UAE which bans same-sex kissing after Healy kissed a male fan at the same show, and have repeatedly spoken out on gender issues at concerts. Healy said: “If I can help plant the seeds of women’s rights, secularism, free conscience now, I can hopefully help to empower them mentally and make them know how to deal with things.”

However, Healy has also rolled Islamophobia off his tongue quicker than his half-hearted apologies and has repeatedly said questionable things amid his claims of being a good guy fighting for the right things. Belittling an interviewer in 2014, he suggested that the questions she asked “seemed a little big” for a girl dressed as she was.

He also aimed at Islam on Twitter, essentially grouping all Muslims with ISIS. A 19-year-old Muslim fan decided to correct him and his odious statements regarding her religion but he responded with this:

He followed it up with a slew of pseudo-apologetic and defensive tweets that while he claims were not directed against Islam, clearly were condemning religion and focused on Islam specifically.

In March of 2017, Healy again displayed blatant Islamophobia, retweeting an Anti-Islam hate group. After receiving a significant amounts of backlash, he undid the retweets and sent a few half-hearted apologies to fans.

Most recently, he was spotted on The 1975 guitarist Adam Hann’s Instagram live story, joyously bouncing around a room mouthing the words to Caroline by Amine. All of the words. Including all the racial slurs.

I’m torn between the Matty Healy of his dynamic shows and the pillar of ignorance posing as a woke-bae to every supposed post-punk aficionado who swoons over every word.

And while I’m not calling for you to boycott Healy or his music, hell I am I mad fan myself, I am asking you to take into consideration that he has glaring problematic stances and actions that should not be swept under the carpet.