Even with the benefit of the wealth of information available on the internet, it seems foot-in-mouth syndrome will forever be unavoidable for most people. Unfortunately for entertainers, their misspoken comments are often public and widely read in spheres outside their experience or comfort zones, so they tend to receive a correspondingly heavier backlash. That’s exactly what happened to The 1975‘s frontman Matthew Healy when a quote from a recent interview with The Fader went viral on Twitter.
In the quote, Healy addresses a lyric shouting out the late rapper Lil Peep in a quote that quickly digresses into thoughts about misogyny in hip-hop. The full quote, reprinted below, made the rounds on Twitter with a number of commenters expressing anger that the quote seems to flatten hip-hop and misapprehend both its scope in calling out/condoning misogyny and rock’s current stance on the issue.
“One of the problems is the youth of hip-hop. At the moment, with SoundCloud rap, it’s become a bit of a drug-taking competition, and that happened in rock and roll. Those things get weeded out the longer those things exist. The reason misogyny doesn’t happen in rock and roll anymore is because it’s a vocabulary that existed for so long is that it got weeded out. It still exists in hip-hop because [the genre] is so young, but it’ll stop. That’s why you have this moment with young Black men — Kanye-aged men, as well — talking about their relationship with themselves, which is a big step forward for hip-hop. Drake, for example. But then they’ll be like,’”But I still got b*tches.’ The scene’s relationship with women hasn’t caught up to its relationship with itself, but that’s something that will happen.”
After word of the outcry reached Healy, he did something that is actually unusual for stars within either genre: He listened and issued a thoughtful, articulate apology that acknowledged the offense, praised the feedback, and promised to do better. “This bit of me talking in an interview reads as patronizing, uninformed and reductive,” he later admitted on Twitter with a screenshot of the quote. “And to be fair it is. And I’d like to apologize.” That’s something a lot of stars could take a cue from. The full text of his apology can be read below, along with the original tweets.
What I said isn’t correct. And it’s not all a misquote. Just for clarity I said that misogyny wasn’t ALLOWED in rock and roll nowadays in a way it is in hip hop — not that it doesn’t exist, that’s maybe a misquote as I’m aware of the misogyny in rocknroll. would never deny the RAMPANT misogyny that exists in Rock n Roll. It’s everywhere and has been a weirdly accepted part of it since it’s inception. BUT now looking at what I said — I was simplifying a complex issue without the right amount of education on the subject. [I] think cos I’m so actively trying to support women (not a brag but with the record label etc) I kinda forget that im not very educated on feminism and misogyny and I cant just ‘figure stuff out’ in public and end up trivializing the complexities of such enormous, experienced issues. o basically, I’m sorry for saying that as I was wrong. And thanks for pointing it out cos if I’m gonna do this I have to keep learning. Just to clarify I’m not apologizing for saying ‘rock music is void of misogyny’. I didn’t say that. Anybody who says that is not only thick as fuck they most probably don’t have physical eyes. It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. I’m apologizing for the fact my words could INSINUATE that misogyny in culture and music is an exclusively hip hop (black) issue. I do not believe that. What I believe is that I’m not educated enough to speak on THAT properly and a big part of that is this white dick that I have.
A lot more stars could avoid some of the bigger controversies of celebrity in 2018 if they are willing to listen and learn, apologize when they get it wrong, and keep working.