The 1975’s Matty Healy on Malaysia LGTBQ controversy: “I’m pissed off”

The 1975‘s Matty Healy has delivered a lengthy speech regarding the band’s recent ban from Malaysia for criticising the government’s LGBTQ+ stance at their show in Texas last night (October 9).

The band were banned from Malaysia after their set was cut short during day one of Good Vibes Festival on July 21, when Healy criticised the Malaysian government for anti-LGBTQ laws during their headlining set at Kuala Lumpur’s Good Vibes Festival.

Healy also kissed bandmate and bassist Ross MacDonald on the lips onstage before their set was cut short two songs later – just seven songs into their setlist – and it was announced that the band were, from then, banned from Malaysia.

Future Sound Asia (FSA), the organiser of Kuala Lumpur’s Good Vibes Festival (GVF), then demanded the band pay RM12.3million (£2,099,154) in damages after Healy‘s “indecent behaviour” caused the cancellation of the festival, with artists and vendors complaining of lost earnings. The Malaysian LGBTQ+ community also condemned Healy over his actions, arguing that: “Foreigners don’t get to come in and shit on us and tell us how to do things, especially when they only make it worse for us”.

During the band’s set last night, ahead of their performance of ‘Love It If We Made It’, Healy gave his views on the incident and spoke about in great length.

“Alright ladies and gentlemen,” he began. “OK unfortunately for you guys, Dallas you’ve drawn the short straw. You’ve gotten the show where I’ve genuinely stopped caring. And, ah you see, this show has kind of bled off the stage into loads of different environments, and I don’t mind hollow shallow accusations of being racist or stuff like that, it kind of allows the show to do what its designed to do – expose inconsistencies and hypocrisies, I use myself to do that.”

Healy then directly addressed the recent events in Malaysia adding: “It has nothing to do with you guys, but unfortunately there’s so many incredibly stupid people on the internet that I’ve just cracked. Everyone keeps telling me you can’t talk about Malaysia, don’t talk about what happened in Malaysia, so I’m gonna talk about it at length.”

He went on to say he was “pissed off to be frank” before he continued: “The 1975 did not waltz in Malaysia unannounced, they were invited to headline a festival by a government who had full knowledge of the band with its well publicised political views and its routine stage show. Malaysian festival organisers’ familiarity with the band was the basis of our invitation.

“Me kissing Ross was not a stunt simply meant to provoke the government, it was an ongoing part of the 1975 which has been performed many times prior. Similarly we did not change our set that night to play, you know, pro-freedom of speech or pro-gay songs.

“To eliminate any routine part of the show in an effort to appease the Malaysian authorities’ bigoted views of LGBTQ people would be a passive endorsement of those politics. As liberals are so fond of saying ‘silence causes violence, use your platform’ so we did that.”

Matty Healy of The 1975 performs on day 2 of Music Midtown 2023 at Piedmont Park on September 16, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia (CREDIT: Scott Legato/WireImage)

Healy then said that is “where things got complicated” and he drew attention to the fact that “Malaysian authorities were irate because homosexuality is criminalised and punishable by death in their authoritarian theocracy.”

But he said: “It was the liberal outrage against our band for remaining consistent with our pro-LGBTQ stage show which was the most puzzling thing. Lots of people, liberal people, contended that the performance was ‘an insensitive display of hostility against the cultural customs of the Malaysian government, and that the kiss was a performative gesture of allyship’.

“To start the idea of calling out a performer for being performative is mind-numbingly redundant as an exercise. Performing is a performer’s job. The stage is a place for artists’ expressions which are inherently dramatised. That’s why people go to fucking shows.”

“Other people, other apparent liberal people, contended that the kiss itself was a form of colonialism. That the 1975 in the rich tradition of evil white men past, was forcing its Western beliefs on the Eastern world.”

The frontman went on to say that calling “The 1975’s performance colonialism was a complete inversion of the word’s meaning” and that “performers like Julian Casablancas who took to Twitter to criticise us, this bizarre mangling of colonial identity politics, merely served as an expedient way to express their own disappointment with the festival’s cancellation because it would be in poor taste, surely, to lament a loss of performance.”

This came after The Strokes frontman acknowledged there are “many things to fix”, but that “we should be strategic” when it comes to other cultures – after the cancellation saw The Strokes’ set pulled from Good Vibes.

During his speech last night, Healy continued that: “If you truly believe that artists have a responsibility to uphold their liberal virtues by using their massive platforms, then those artists should be judged by the danger and inconvenience that they face for doing so, not by the rewards they receive for parroting consensus. There’s nothing particularly stunning or brave about changing your fucking profile picture whilst your sat in your house in LA. I’m really fucking pissed off with this shit.”

Healy explained that “Malaysia’s militarised enforcement of laws against public displays of homosexuality creates a clear line in the sand for what artists are allowed and expected to do” but he added that “elsewhere that the line isn’t so defined” and drew attention to certain states in the US which “uphold illiberal laws that restrict people’s bodily autonomy and gender expression”.

He added: “Those who took to Twitter to voice their outrage over the 1975’s unwillingness to cater to Malaysian customs, would find it appalling if The 1975 were to acquiesce to let’s say Mississippi’s respective bullshit trans laws.

“The idea that it’s incumbent upon artists to cater to the local sensitivities of wherever they are invited to perform sets a very dangerous precedent.”

The 1975‘s lawyers have been working on resolving the band’s ongoing dispute with a Malaysian festival organiser Future Sound Asia (FSA) in recent months.

Meanwhile, last week, Healy issued an apology to those that he has “hurt” while trying to take on the “character role of 21st Century rock star”. This was ahead of Ice Spice admitting that she was “confused” over Healy’s controversial comments about her on a podcast. The frontman publicly apologised to Ice Spice after his appearance on The Adam Friedland Show. Friedland and co-host Nick Mullen discussed the New York rapper’s heritage, debating whether she has Hawaiian, Inuit or Chinese, before impersonating the accents of those countries and regions.

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