(JTA) — These have been a wild few years for Matty Healy, the outspoken lead singer of the English pop rock band The 1975.
His group has released a string of acclaimed albums that went to the top of the British charts. But at the same time, Healy has cultivated a reputation as an offensive provocateur due to a series of statements and actions that have angered Jews and other minorities.
Now he is back in the headlines as the rumored new boyfriend of pop megastar Taylor Swift, and many diehard Swift fans — known as “Swifties” — are not happy. In describing their anger about the pairing, some Swifties are calling Healy “antisemitic,” in addition to Islamophobic, racist and other negative labels.
At a concert days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January, Healy gave what appeared to be a Nazi salute, an act that quickly went viral. He made the gesture while singing the line “Thank you, Kanye, very cool” — a quote from a 2018 tweet by Donald Trump praising rapper Kanye West — in the song “Love It If We Made It.” The gesture could have been a mocking reference to West’s series of antisemitic statements last year, which included praising Hitler.
But many fans maintained that Healy should have avoided the gesture, which could have been seen by viewers who were unfamiliar with its context. Some began calling him antisemitic.
“Satire or not, this is irresponsible and super lame to do on stage in front of a crowd of people,” one Twitter user wrote, according to The Independent.
Days later, Healy confused fans by posting an Instagram story, without context, with a screenshot of a Wikipedia article titled “Lists of Jews.” The article links to other Wikipedia articles that list famous Jews in Hollywood, politics and more.
Social media users were critical of the post, pointing to the fact that it could have been a reference to the Nazis’ policy of maintaining lists of Jews during World War II.
(Healy has also criticized U.S. Republicans for invoking Holocaust comparisons in the context of their opposition to abortion rights.)
These were far from the first controversies surrounding Healy, a fervent atheist who nonetheless admits he has a “Messiah” complex. After a 2019 interview, fans called him Islamophobic for referencing Islam and then saying “I have to get up every day and read something abhorrent that’s happened in the name of religion.” In a podcast appearance in February, he mocked Japanese people and the ethnicity of Ice Spice, an American rapper with African American and Dominican ancestry (whom he called “Inuit”). In light of her connection to Healy, Swift is now drawing scrutiny for collaborating with Ice Spice.
Healy’s charged statements about porn and his treatment of women fans — some of whom he has approached and kissed on his band’s recent tour — have also drawn condemnation.
In an open letter to the pop star last week, a group of Swift fans wrote that Healy’s past comments have hurt members of the “Jewish, Black, Chinese, Hawaiian, Inuit, LGBTQ+ communities, as well as women.”
Another thing that many Swifties point out: Healy was years ago also rumored to be dating Swift, but denied rumors by saying that being her boyfriend “would have been emasculating for me.”