Taylor Swift’s dedicated fanbase, aka “Swifties,” are known for their intense dedication and unwavering support of their idol. (Just in April, they filled out a record-shattering three-night tour leg on Arlington.) Her budding romance with The 1975 frontman Matty Healy, however, might be where they draw the line.
The roots of their resentment go deep and in all different directions, as the fandom is hardly a monolith. Some Swifties are still grieving the recent end of her six-year relationship with actor Joe Alwyn, the presumed muse behind fan favorite love songs like “Lover” and “Delicate.”
TikTok videos of Healy dancing at Swift’s shows are flooded with comments from appalled fans who think he has no right to do so.
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“Matty, those songs aren’t for you,” reads one comment on a fan edit comparing his reaction to Swift’s performing to Alwyn’s.
These are, of course, some weird feelings to have about people you don’t know. While these delusions should roll off Swift’s back easily, she should be taking notice of the more legitimate concerns about her new “lover.”
Healy has been in the public eye as part of The 1975 for 10 years, but his profile has been raised significantly since being romantically linked to Swift. With that comes the curiosity and scrutiny of thousands learning about him for the first time. It didn’t take long for fans to dig up receipts.
The controversy begins back in 2016, when the two were first rumored to be dating. These rumors were unsubstantiated, with Healy personally denying them by saying that while there was a brief flirtation, it ultimately went nowhere because dating Swift would be “de-emasculinating” [sic]. Fans find this mindset unfitting of their beloved girlboss.
That was seven years ago, though. People change, and maybe he’s “shaken off” some of those insecurities. Good for him, if that’s the case, but that wouldn’t account for more recent discrepancies.
In February, Healy appeared on The Adam Freidland Show, during which he speculated on the ethnicity of rapper Ice Spice and imitated her accent. They called her “one of the Inuit Spice Girls” and a “chubby Chinese lady.” At a 1975 show in April, Healy claimed his comments were “misconstrued.”
In a separate portion of the podcast, Healy shared an anecdote about a friend walking in on him watching porn at a party. Healy also mentioned that he was watching hardcore porn depicting the sexual degradation and humiliation of women of color.
The podcast episode in question was removed from both Apple and Spotify because of the offensive content.
He’s also been filmed giving the Nazi salute onstage during The 1975’s song “Love It If We Made It” during the lyric “thank you, Kanye, very cool.” Fans have claimed that the salute was intended to mock Kanye West, but detractors question the intent and necessity behind making the hateful gesture part of the performance.
These are just some of the many reasons Swift fans take issue with her (alleged) relationship with Healy. But more alarming than anything Healy has done is what it tells us about people who associate with him, like Swift herself.
In recent years, Swift has cast herself in the role of activist, speaking out in favor of feminist and LGBTQ causes. While she was widely lauded for these efforts, there were always detractors who called her an opportunist who was using progressive issues to improve her image. Many point out that she didn’t publicly speak about gay rights until it was almost universally acceptable to do so and that her brand of feminism only benefits wealthy white women.
She’s made it clear that she’s aware of every ounce of criticism, including the opportunistic progressive allegations on last year’s single “Anti-Hero:” “Did you hear my covert narcissism I disguise as altruism?”
But in spite of it all, she has chosen to be seen and has associated with a man currently in hot water for disgusting, derogatory behavior. For the detractors, it’s an affirmation of what they’ve long suspected to be true. For Swifties, a fandom composed largely of women and queer people, it’s a betrayal.
If you asked Healy’s own fans to explain the controversy around him, they might tell you he’s actually a champion of progressive causes who, though off-color and provocative, will always stand up for what’s right in the end. His racist, sexist, antisemitic schtick is satire, they’ll say. He’s an edgy performance artist with a heart of gold. Swift is falling for the real him, not his persona.
Swifties, however, aren’t buying the satire excuse. Unless some alternate, PR-driven explanation is provided for the two being linked, Swift is at risk of demolishing the good will she’s established over the years. No messy rebound album is worth that.
Taylor Swift. Swift boyfriend. Music. Matty Healy. Celebrity news. Celebrity.
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