The internet has descended into chaos ever since the news broke that Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn had called it quits. And sightings of Taylor with Matty Healy, the frontman of The 1975, have only added fuel to the fire. With Matty spotted at Eras Tour shows and paparazzi shots leaking of the pair getting cosy, pop culture enthusiasts are convinced that the two are dating (or are at least in some kind of PR relationship).
Since Taylor only recently ended her six-year relationship, many Swifties have rallied behind the singer. However, some are concerned about her rumoured new romance, as many internet users accuse Matty of harbouring racist, antisemitic, and misogynistic views. With Swifties uncertain about his controversial past and compatibility with Taylor, it’s no surprise that this discourse has taken over Twitter and TikTok in the past few weeks.
As internet users continue to come to Matty’s defence, two questions keep cropping up: First, is Matty Healy actually problematic? And if he is, what does Taylor have to do with it?
Many Twitter users have taken to the platform to share detailed accounts of Matty’s controversial comments in the past. A Taylor Swift stan account, @antiheroandie, went viral for one such thread. These tweets accumulated over 7 million views and tens of thousands of retweets before @antiheroandie’s Twitter account was suspended.
Since then, Twitter and TikTok users have shared screenshots of the thread to ensure that internet users are aware of Matty’s history. One user, @heyitsmoog, shared an almost five-minute TikTok of the original tweets, urging viewers to download and repost the video.
“I think that thread should be shared around. I retweeted every single tweet in it… but I don’t want that getting buried. I want people to know what a terrible person Matty Healy is,” they say.
The original thread spans years of Matty’s career, but internet users have taken issue with a few specific incidents.
The first is Matty’s tendency to make antisemitic remarks and jokes.
In January of this year, the singer faced backlash after he appeared to do a Nazi salute during “Love It If We Made It,” a song from The 1975’s 2018 album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. While performing the salute, Matty sang the lyrics “Thank you Kanye, very cool,” leading social media users to believe he supports the rapper and his antisemitic tirades.
However, many fans have since argued that the salute and mention of Kanye are satirical in nature. These users claim that internet users (who are unfamiliar with The 1975) are missing critical context, given that the song he was performing speaks to the chaotic social and political times we live in. Rather than expressing support for Kanye, this lyric is a dig at former President Donald Trump, who originally tweeted the line in 2018.
“he did that salute to mock kanye west and donald trump. if you idiots listened to love if we made it, you would understand. but that’s ok, keep calling him a nazi,” one Twitter user wrote.
Meanwhile, other social media users are more concerned with what Matty’s behaviour represents rather than whether he intended to do a Nazi salute or not. TikTok user @tulatbird shared this view at the time of the controversy.
“Matty Healy defenders are so confusing, like y’all trying to say that him doing a literal nazi salute during a show is ok because ‘it’s a commentary on Kanye’s antisemitism’?? it’s still never acceptable to do?” she writes.
Pop culture enthusiasts have also pointed out that this incident was not even the first time Matty had been questionable toward Jewish people. In a viral TikTok video responding to the performance, @daniellesilverstone noted how Matty had once posted a screenshot of a Wikipedia page titled “Lists of Jews” on his Instagram story.
Beyond antisemitism, @antiheroandie’s original thread also detailed Matty’s history of racist remarks and behaviour – with the latest incident just last month.
Most recently, Matty faced backlash for comments he made as a guest on The Adam Friedland Show. Following the episode’s release, he became the target of criticism from pop culture enthusiasts, who accused him of being racist, misogynistic and homophobic. Yet, it appears that the main focus of concern among these internet users was his remarks regarding Ice Spice.
During the episode, Matty shared that he had sent a direct message to Ice Spice but received no response. Unfortunately, the conversation took a disturbing turn as the hosts engaged in offensive commentary and speculated about Ice Spice’s ethnicity – a conversation that Matty went along with. They referred to her as “Inuit Spice Girl” and a “chubby Chinese lady,” using stereotyped and racist accents. Later in the podcast, Matty even laughed along as the hosts imitated Japanese people.
While there is no denying that this is problematic, fans of the singer have continued to defend him online, with many claiming that the people taking issue with Matty’s remarks are just sensitive. Others are deflecting blame from Matty, noting that it was mostly the hosts poking fun at Ice Spice. These fans also urge Swifties to forgive the singer because he apologised for the podcast during a recent performance. Though Matty expressed remorse for mocking Ice Spice, it is worth noting that he did not mention the other offensive remarks that were made.
“Ice Spice, I’m sorry. It’s not because I’m annoyed that my joking got misconstrued. It’s because I don’t want Ice Spice to think I’m a dick,” he says. “I’m so sorry. I don’t want it to be misconstrued as mean. I don’t mind being a bit of a joker… but I am genuinely sorry if I’ve upset them because I f–king love them.”
Many internet users are reluctant to accept Matty’s apology as genuine since he has made numerous discriminatory comments in the past – some of the most egregious against Islam and other minority religions. TikTok user, @htmljones, created a video exposing Matty’s problematic behaviour, illustrating how he has patronised and criticised Muslim individuals in the past, often avoiding consequences due to his white privilege.
It’s safe to say that the debate online about Matty’s history will not die down any time soon, but one thing remains clear: it does not reflect well on Taylor.
Though many of us are reluctant to assign any blame to Taylor for Matty’s past comments and beliefs, TikTok creators such as @jawnontheinternet and @swiftieplanntika have used the platform to remind users that “who you marry, who you associate with are [often] a direct reflection of your social and political views.” And as reports surface of Taylor dating Matty, some fans are starting to distance themselves from the singer as she becomes just another “wealthy, complicit white woman” in the web of oppression.
One long-time Swiftie, @swiftie4life135, took to Twitter, sharing how the rumoured relationship changed her perception of the beloved singer.
“[Taylor] is parading around in public like she’s proud af of this relationship which signals to me she’s proud of HIM and what he stands for. It’s making me question a lot of things” she writes. “I’ve been a swiftie since 2006 and have never wavered. But I am full on questioning if either Taylor stands by or shares Mattys beliefs.”
In a world where women are frequently burdened with the unfair expectation of changing their partners for the better, it is unfair to expect Taylor to fix Matty. However, the company our favourite celebrities keep reveals a great deal about their core values and priorities. And sometimes, it may not be exactly what we want to hear.