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The 1975's Matty Healy calls Malaysia 'bigoted' in heated new speech

The 1975's Matty Healy calls Malaysia 'bigoted' in heated new speech

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The 1975’s Matty Healy has defended his actions at the band’s controversial concert that was cut short at Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival (GVF) earlier this year. In a 10-minute speech at a concert in Texas, Healy addressed the criticisms he received for kissing his bandmate at the festival in spite of Malaysia's politics. 

He defended the action by saying that the kiss between himself and Ross MacDonald was a routine part of the show, which they did not intend to change to suit the country they were performing in. He emphasised that the outrage following the kiss was puzzling to him as the band simply sought to remain consistent with its stage routine.

"We did not choose to change our set that night, to play pro-freedom of speech, pro-gay songs. To eliminate any routine part of the show in an effort to appease the Malaysian party's bigoted views of LGBTQ+ people would be a passive endorsement of those politics," he said. 

Don't miss: The 1975 continues its attacks on MY: Why the country's economy might be at stake

Silence equals violence, use your platform. So we did that. 

However, The 1975 had reportedly assured the organisers of GVF that it would adhere to local performance guidelines. “Regrettably, Healy did not honour these reassurances, despite our trust in their commitment. Healy’s actions took us by complete surprise and we halted the show as promptly as feasible following the incident,” the organisers, Future Sound Asia, said at the time. 

Healy went on in his Texas speech to address netizens' criticism of his actions being "performative" by stating that as a performer, it is his job to perform. "To start, the idea of calling out a performer for being a performer is mind-numbingly redundant as an exercise," he said. 

Referencing the country’s strict anti-LGBTQ laws and criticism that the band should have abided by the values of the country instead of forcing Western values onto it, Healy said that it should be expected that if countries invite Western performers, they will bring Western values with them. If abiding by said Western values could land the performers in jail, Healy said, "You're not actually inviting them to perform. You are indirectly commanding them to reflect your country's policies." 

He also commented on liberal audiences' expectations for artists to stand by their liberalist views regardless of how dangerous it would be to do so. "If you truly believe that artists have a responsibility to uphold their liberal virtues, by using their platforms, then those artists should be judged by the danger and the inconvenience they faced for doing so, not by the awards they receive for parroting consensus," he said, adding:

There is nothing particularly stunning or brave about changing your profile picture while you are sat in your house in Los Angeles. 

Healy's speech not only called out Malaysia's politics but America's as well. He pointed out that while there are many states that uphold liberal laws, they also restrict people's body autonomy and gender expression. This was in reference to Texas' anti-abortion law, where he was giving the speech. 

"Malaysia's militarised force of laws against public displays of homosexuality creates a clear line in the sand for what artists are allowed and expected to do. But elsewhere, this line isn't so fine. I have an inkling that those who took to Twitter to voice their outrage against The 1975's unwillingness to cater to Malaysian customs would find it appalling if The 1975 acquiesced to Mississippi's perspective on abortion and trans rights." 

In Malaysia, The 1975's actions have had " wide and far-reaching implications" on Malaysia's entertainment scene, said Wan Alman, the director of entertainment at Future Sound Asia to A+M at the time.

These actions, he said, affect not only the festival organisers but also all of its vendors, merchants, suppliers, artists, and fans and are bound to have ripple effects on the entertainment industry. He went on to add that it is sad that the 1975 are able to return to their home countries, absolved of responsibility or consequence, while the countless individuals and communities in Malaysia that are impacted by his actions are left to redress the massive and far-reaching consequences of what they have done.

"This incident will also definitely have some impact on Malaysia being a concert destination for international artists as it made headlines in international media across the world. However, this incident was an isolated case, so we hope that Malaysia will remain a welcoming place for international performances," he explained. 

Alman also stated that the team's immediate priority is to address its responsibilities as festival organisers. "We must cater to the needs of the authorities, our partners, stakeholders, and ticket holders. We have been dealt a severe financial blow and at the moment we are carefully reviewing our financial strategies and exploring all possible recovery avenues as well as legal options. 

As a result of The 1975's actions at GVF, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the band according to The Straits Times. Malaysian lawyer, Mathew Thomas Philip took to Facebook to share his involvement in the case, stating that “all local artists whose income [had been] affected by the cancellation of the Good Vibes festival because of the utter recklessness of the band should sue The 1975.”

He went on to address the band directly, saying that the band should have stuck to its scope of work under its contract. He said, "It is not your stage to tell us how to run our country. We have a democratic process. You are very silly."

Related articles:
The 1975 to pay over RM12.3m in damages to GVF organisers or risk UK lawsuit
The 1975 continues its attacks on MY: Why the country's economy might be at stake
How The 1975's antics have 'threatened the stability' of Malaysia's live entertainment scene

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