The 1975‘s Matty Healy has delivered an on-stage speech in which he directly addressed the band’s recent ban from Malaysia for criticising the country’s LGBTQ+ laws.
Performing in Texas last night (October 9), Healy addressed the events of July 21, when the group’s set at Malaysia’s Good Life Festival was cut short after he criticised the country’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws and kissed bandmate Ross MacDonald.
The group’s set was pulled 30 minutes later and authorities cancelled the remaining two days of the festival. The 1975 were banned from performing in the country as a result, while 18 police reports have been filed. The remainder of the band’s Asia tour was also cancelled.
In addition, the band also face class action lawsuits from a selection of musicians and local traders who say that the cancellation of the Kuala Lumpur event – due to Healy’s actions – caused a substantial loss of earnings. Future Sound Asia (FSA), the organiser of Kuala Lumpur’s Good Vibes Festival (GVF), also demanded the group pay RM12.3million (£2,099, 154) in damages.
Before the band performed ‘Love It If We Made It’ at last night’s show in Dallas, Healy took the opportunity to talk about the incident at great length. He had previously apologised for his actions in a speech during the band’s recent show in Hollywood.
“Alright ladies and gentlemen,” he said to the Texan crowd. “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.”
Explaining that he was “pissed off, to be frank”, Healy said: “The 1975 did not waltz [into] 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.”
Healy went on to explain that this is “where things got complicated” and highlighted the country’s outlawing of homosexuality, punishable by death.
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,” he went on. “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.”
Healy went on to claim that calling The 1975’s performance “colonialism” was “a complete inversion of the word’s meaning”, before taking aim at those who criticised his actions – such as The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas.
Casablancas previously said there are “many things to fix”, but that “we should be strategic” in approaching other cultures – after the cancellation of Good Vibes saw The Strokes’ set being pulled.
Healy continued: “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 you’re sat in your house in LA. I’m really fucking pissed off with this shit.”
He also added 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 acknowledged that “elsewhere that the line isn’t so defined”, citing US states 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.”
This comes after Healy previously confirmed that the group will take an “indefinite hiatus” once they wrap up their latest tour.
The band kicked off their second major world tour in support of last year’s Being Funny in a Foreign Language earlier this month, and will continue to play North American arenas through to December.
They will then bring the Still…At their Very Best tour to the UK in February 2024, before going on to undertake a run of shows across Europe. Afterwards, though, the band will take an extended break from live shows.