Matty Healy Blasts 'Liberal Outrage' Over The 1975's On-Stage Stunt In Malaysia

The frontman was accused of "white saviour" behaviour by some critics after he and his bandmate kissed during a performance in Kuala Lumpur.
Matty Healy on stage last month
Matty Healy on stage last month
Scott Legato via Getty Images

The 1975 frontman Matty Healy has spoken out about the band’s on-stage stunt in Malaysia earlier this year, which divided opinion among fans.

Back in July, Matty courted controversy when he and bandmate Ross MacDonald kissed on stage during a festival show in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, in a stunt to protest the country’s laws against homosexuality.

“I don’t see the fucking point of inviting The 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with,” he told the festival crowd, as reported by The Guardian. “Unfortunately you don’t get a set of loads of uplifting songs because I’m fucking furious.

“And that’s not fair on you, because you’re not representative of your government. Because you’re young people, and I’m sure a lot of you are gay and progressive and cool.”

After his speech, Matty and Ross then shared a kiss, and the group’s set came to an abrupt end just 30 minutes into the set.

The 1975 pictured together last year
The 1975 pictured together last year
John Parra via Getty Images

Reaction to both the speech and stunt was mixed, particularly as the rest of the festival was cancelled the following day, with some critics accusing Matty of “white saviour” behaviour.

On Monday evening, Matty and his bandmates performed in Texas as part of their ongoing tour, during which the singer read a lengthy statement about the controversy from his phone.

“Me kissing Ross was not a stunt simply meant to provoke the government. It was an ongoing part of the 1975 stage show, which has been performed many times prior,” he began, as reported by Pitchfork.

“Similarly we chose to not 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 authorities’ bigoted views of LGBTQ people would be a passive endorsement of those politics. As liberals are so fond of saying, ‘Silence equals violence. Use your platform’. So we did that. And that’s where things got complicated.”

Matty went on to say he found the “liberal outrage” to the stunt “the most puzzling thing”.

He continued: “Lots of people, who appear to be 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 […] artistic expressions which are inherently dramatised. That’s why audiences go to fucking shows.”

Taking on claims that the stunt was “itself a form of colonialism”, Matty said this accusation was “a complete inversion of the word’s meaning”, he added: “We have no [power] at all to enforce will on anyone in Malaysia. In fact, it was the Malaysian authorities who briefly imprisoned us.”

“This bizarre mangling of colonial identity politics merely served as an expedient way to express their own disappointment with the festival’s cancellation,” Matty told the audience.

Read a transcript of Matty’s speech here.

Last month, Matty confirmed that The 1975 would be going on an “indefinite hiatus” when the band’s current tour comes to an end next year.

This news name after a series of controversies involving the group’s frontman in recent history, including an infamous appearance on The Adam Friedland Show in January, during which he was heard laughing at racist remarks made by the show’s hosts about rapper Ice Spice.

Months later, he apologised to Ice Spice during a show in New Zealand, saying: “Ice Spice, I’m sorry. It’s not because I’m annoyed that me joking got misconstrued. It’s because I don’t want Ice Spice to think I’m a dick. I love you, Ice Spice. I’m so sorry.”

Since then, it was also reported that the Brit Award winner had shut down his unverified Twitter account after making a joke containing an ableist slur.

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