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Rock

Matty Healy Addresses Malaysia Festival Ban & ‘Liberals Outrage’

"Performing is a performer's job," he said about criticism of the 1975's LGBTQ protest at Good Vibes Festival.

Matty Healy Addresses Malaysia Festival Ban & ‘Liberals Outrage’

"Performing is a performer's job," he said about criticism of the 1975's LGBTQ protest at Good Vibes Festival.

Scott Legato/WireImage

The 1975‘s Matty Healy has made responding to outrage over his latest provocations a near-nightly set piece during his band’s current Still… At Their Very Best U.S. tour. And, on Monday night (Oct. 9) in Dallas he was at it again, pulling out some notes to give his most extensive comments yet on the dust-up unleashed in July when he criticized the Malaysian government’s anti-LGBTQ laws and kissed bassist Ross MacDonald during a set at Kuala Lumpur’s Good Vibes Festival.

“I don’t mind hollow shallow accusations of being racist and stuff like that, it kind of allows the show to do what it’s designed to do — expose inconsistencies and hypocrisies,” the singer said after apologizing to the crowd for drawing the “short straw” on a night when he had a lot on his mind.


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He then went on to mention the band getting banned in Malaysia after the kiss incident and said that although the fine people of Texas had nothing to do with it, “Unfortunately there’s so many incredibly stupid people on the internet that I’ve just cracked,” he said, noting during the 10-minute rant that “everyone” has been telling him to stop talking about Malaysia. So, of course, he promised to talk about it “at length” during the show at Dickies Arena; the band has been asked to pay damages by the event’s promoter after the festival was cancelled in the wake of the kiss.

“I am pissed off, to be frank,” Healy said, reading notes from his phone. “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 publicized political views and its routine stage show,” he said, adding that the organizers’ familiarity with the band’s outspoken, unpredictable nature was the “basis” of their invitation.

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“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,” he explained. “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.”

That’s where things got complicated, according to Healy, noting that he believed that Malaysian authorities got angry because “homosexuality is criminalized and punishable by death in their authoritarian theocracy. That is the violent reality obscured by the more friendly term ‘cultural customs.'”

The singer seemed to suggest that the response was pretty much what he’d expect from such a regime, but that the “liberal outrage” against his band for “remaining consistent” with their pro-LBGTQ stage show was the most puzzling part of the reaction. “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,'” he said.

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“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,” he continued. “The stage is a place for artists’ expressions which are inherently dramatized. That’s why people go to f–king shows.” He then went on to say that other liberal voices argued that the kiss itself was a “form of colonialism,” and that the 1975 were following the tradition of “evil white men past” by forcing their Western beliefs on the Eastern world before going into a digression about the 17th century behemoth East India Trading Company.

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“To call The 1975’s performance colonialism is a complete inversion of the word’s meaning,” he said. “Colonialism is the practice of forcible occupation and economic exploitation. Once again, the 1975 was INVITED into the country to headline Malaysia’s music festival in an effort to capitalize on our popularity so they could make money.”

Saying they were powerless against a government he claimed briefly imprisoned them over the incident, Healy also struck out other unnamed artists who he said took to Twitter to criticize his band in a “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.”

The speech, which also included an aside about the United Arab Emirates’ “human rights abuses against the enslaved workers who built their soccer facilities — as well as a swing at the conservative Supreme Court’s Ruling curtailing women’s reproductive freedom in America — ended with Healy lashing out at the “contradiction at the heard of liberals’ outrage over our supposed cultural insensitivity. Their unconditional belief in inclusivity and tolerance has led them to indirectly support a government which is intolerant of their own existence.”

Check out Healy’s speech below.

This article originally appeared on Billboard U.S.
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