Some Black fans of Taylor Swift have renewed their frustration with the singer’s connection to 1975’s The frontman Matty Healy after Swift announced a collaboration with rapper Ice Spice.
While fans were excited about the remixed song “Midnights” featuring Ice Spice, who will be the first black woman on one of Swift’s songs, some questioned Swift’s motives.
Earlier this year, Healy engaged in behavior that some considered racist, including laughing at and participating in jokes that mocked Ice Spice while appearing as a guest on a podcast. And while Healy and Swift have not confirmed a romantic relationship, the two have made headlines after being spotted together. Healy has also been photographed at several Eras Tour concerts.
Given that connection, Swift’s partnership with Ice Spice seemed like a calculated PR move, some said. Others said they thought the Ice Spice collaboration was probably a long time in the making, but were left disappointed by the fact that Swift hasn’t yet replied to Healy’s previous comments.
“I don’t believe Matty Healy is a demonic conservative,” says Brooke Giles, 27, who considers herself a die-hard Swiftie. “And she (Swift) doesn’t comment on it. Instead, she finds more ways to profit from controversy.
Representatives of the three artists did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Healy made the controversial remarks on a February episode of “The Adam Friedland Show” podcast. During the episode, Healy, who is white, can be heard laughing at jokes hosts Friedland and Nick Mullen make about Ice Spice’s ethnicity (Ice Spice is Dominican and Nigerian).
He also seemed to encourage the co-hosts when they imitated Chinese and Hawaiian accents, and later laughed when the two imitated Japanese accents.
The podcast episode comes from Apple and Spotify.
In April, Healy apologized for his comments, directly addressing Ice Spice during a performance in Auckland, New Zealand.
“It was never my intention to hurt anyone,” he said. “I’m sorry if I offended you and, like Ice Spice, I’m sorry. It’s not because I’m annoyed that my joke was taken the wrong way, it’s because I don’t want Ice Spice to think I’m ad…. I love you, Ice Spice. I’m very sorry. I don’t want anything to be misinterpreted as mean. I don’t mind being a bit of a prankster…but I don’t want to be seen as being a little mean.”
Healy, Swift and Ice Spice have not weighed in on the controversy.
In her announcement on Wednesday, Swift said she’s a “huge fan” of Ice Spice, adding “after getting to know her I can confirm: she’s THE ONE to watch.”
“Loveliest person ever, thank you,” Ice Spice wrote in her response tweet.
Ice Spice had previously shared her love for The 1975 in a Jan. 25 video interview with Elle.
Discussions surrounding Swift and Healy have permeated social media for days.
“I love Taylor Swift as much as I love the next Swiftie, but this is such an interesting PR move,” wrote another Twitter user.
Fans have used the hashtag #SpeakUpNow to share their frustrations over Swift’s partnership with Healy. The tag was also used in a fan-written letter which was widely “liked” and shared on Twitter.
“Your voice has tremendous power and right now your silence is palpable,” the fan wrote. “We urge you to consider the impact of your own behavior and that of your colleagues and engage in sincere self-reflection.”
Fast fans like Mike Mason, 24, said they are still angry at Healy’s comments.
“When I saw the comments, I was just so disgusted and angry,” Mason said in an email to NBC News. “It was completely racist and inappropriate, and I don’t think his apology was sincere.”
It was completely racist and inappropriate.
Amidst the discourse, some Swifties have defended Healy, noting that he was more likely to advocate for progressive causes and women’s issues.
Comedian and activist Franchesca Ramsey suggested that Healy’s defense could be due to the parasocial relationship — the attachment fans can feel to a public figure, especially personal people who are very active online — people have with Swift.
The artist is known for deliberately leaving all sorts of clues in her music videos, lyrics and social media for her devoted fans to analyze and dissect.
“My view is that a large percentage of Taylor’s audience feels extreme loyalty to her because of the parasocial relationship she has built with them throughout her career,” Ramsey tweeted. “showing loyalty to her on social media is a way to feign closeness and a chance to get singled out/noticed by her.”
Some said they believe the controversy serves as an example of Swift’s privilege and participation in white-oriented feminism.
“I don’t think she’s a horrible, horrible person,” Giles said. “I always like to think that that is fairly commonplace. But I do think she is very careless in her privilege.
Others expressed disappointment at the controversy overshadowed Ice herb.
Ava Brown, 24, said as a longtime Swift fan, said she finds the Healy discourse “frustrating”.
“…a lot of people defend the things he says in a way that’s like, ‘Oh, he was just kidding,’ or ‘Oh, it’s performance art,'” she said.
But Brown, who recently attended an Eras Tour concert, said to some extent that the discourse around Healy is annoying because it detracts from the enjoyment of Swift’s music.
“I’m just a Taylor Swift fan,” she said. “I don’t know what he said was right or wrong or whatever. I think part of what’s become frustrating is I just want to listen to her music, and I just want to be a fan.