How The 1975 Ruined a Malaysian Music Festival


The Good Vibes Festival (GVF) is a music festival that is currently running in Malaysia. The event featured prominent musical artists such as Daniel Caesar, DPR IAN/LIVE, The Strokes, Porter Robinson, a plethora of local artists and now, infamously, The 1975. The festival has been prematurely cancelled after its first day, due to Matty Healy starting his set with a bang by drunkenly and passionately making out with The 1975’s bass player, Ross MacDonald. The decision was proposed by the Communications and Digital Minister of Malaysia, Fami Fadzil, who condemned the band and described their actions as “barbaric” and “savage”.

This whole situation is a mess. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, and this article will attempt to break down the situation to let readers form their own opinions, but I will also give my own thoughts at the very end.

Before GVF, the Malaysian government had been wary of inviting The 1975 to perform, knowing the band's reputation for disrespecting and disregarding a country’s laws with regard to their ban in Dubai in 2019. Thus, the organisers of GVF and the management of The 1975 had appealed and sent in a Letter of Undertaking. This essentially meant that the organisers of GVF would be held responsible for the band’s actions. These were the efforts and lengths the management of The 1975 and the organisers of GVF went to bring the band to perform for fans in Malaysia.

During the night of the performance, Matty Healy, as seen in countless videos recorded by attendees, stumbled across the stage drunkenly and, in an act of “defiance”, went on a rage-filled rant regarding the Malaysian government. These are the quotes from Matty Healy himself from the night:

“I made a mistake. When we were booking shows, I wasn’t looking into it. I don’t see the fucking point… of inviting the 1975 to a country and then telling us who we can have sex with.”

“I’m sorry if that offends you, and you’re religious… but your government are a bunch of fucking r——. I don’t care anymore. If you push, I’m gonna push back. I’m not in the fucking mood.”

“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. You are young people, and I’m sure a lot of you are gay and progressive.”

After which, Matty Healy and Ross Macdonald shared a passionate kiss in front of the crowd. The band fled the scene after this, and the day after, GVF was ordered to be cancelled by the Communications and Digital Minister, Fahmi Fadzil, leading to the 3-day festival being cut short.

The decision made by Fadzil was expected. Healy broke the aforementioned Letter of Undertaking that the organisers of GVF and the management of The 1975 had promised to keep. The fact that this incident still happened goes to show that Healy understood the terms and yet still chose to act against them. Many were quick to point fingers at Fadzil for cancelling the rest of the festival, however, they failed to recognise that Healy had essentially broken the law and with the Letter of Undertaking, the organisers of GVF had (in the eyes of the government) failed to uphold the agreement. Thus the rest of the festival was cancelled. From the government’s perspective, if the festival were to continue, it might inspire or normalise this sort of behaviour from the other international performers that were slated for the festival. So, to protect the nation’s interests, they cancelled GVF.

However, the consequences of cancelling GVF are massive. Besides the obvious loss of revenue, effort and planning, it affects local vendors and artists who sought to propel their careers by performing at GVF. Furthermore, it stains Malaysia’s reputation for international artists, which may discourage them from performing in Malaysia.

The general sentiment from social media, local/international celebrities and my friends who attended GVF is of utmost disappointment, frustration and anger. All of which is understandable. A British singer coming to a country that his ancestors colonised, only to tell us how we should be running things, is nothing short of the purest form of irony. Malaysia is not a perfect country by any means, and we do have a lot of areas to improve on (of which is with regard to LGBTQ+ rights). Every Malaysian knows this. So for a foreigner to pretend to care about our social issues, all whilst attempting to be a martyr for social change is the textbook definition of white saviourism. Not only that, but the general disrespectful tone of his entire rant, was neither productive nor helpful.

It is incredibly infuriating to know as well that Healy himself, doesn’t understand the political circumstances that are inhibiting positive social change that Malaysians have been fighting for, for so many years. This incident has essentially set Malaysia back another 5 years, as this seemingly innocent act of rebelliousness will now be used as political fuel for extremist political parties in Malaysia to gain power, thus rendering his “efforts” for social change effectively null.

The most unfortunate thing about this whole fiasco is that Matty Healy will face little to no consequences for his actions. As not only did The 1975 immediately leave Malaysia the day after, there is no #MattyHealyisOverParty on Twitter or anything. The wider international community will essentially boil this down to the fact that Malaysia is an Islamic state, therefore, homophobic, therefore, Matty Healy was in the right, and therefore, no consequences.

After the incident, Healy continued his disrespectful tirade on his social media platforms as foreign fans who knew nothing of Malaysia continued to support his actions. An example of this can be seen in the messages exchanged between Matty Healy and Luqman Podolski (a Malaysian comedian):











The texts speak for themselves; the pure arrogance, lack of remorse and borderline narcissism are disturbing.

There is some good that came out of this situation. The Kid LAROI was seen performing in a hotel lobby for fans, The Strokes’ frontman Julian Casablancas and DPR IAN expressed their disappointments on Instagram and promised to make it up to Malaysian fans. Peach Tree Rascals were as well seen in the streets of K.L., enjoying food and singing for local fans.

This situation has no winners. Who knows what was happening in Matty Healy’s mind when he decided to pull such a stunt? But it is genuinely disappointing to see such a well-thought-out lineup of fantastic artists be wasted, all because Healy wanted to play the hero. And the fact that The 1975 left Malaysia as quickly as they could was not only cowardly but disingenuous to the message they were preaching.

Ultimately, I hope this article brought to light a situation that most Australians will not know about and as well, the horrific truth that some celebrities are not who you think they are.

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