Taylor Swift (l) Matt Healy (r)

Brian Friedman/Shutterstock Jack Fordyce/Shutterstock (Licensed)

‘Being an ally is not a part-time job’: Taylor Swift faces criticism for dating Matty Healy, who has a history of racist remarks

Healy has made sexist and racist comments about Ice Spice, performed a Nazi salute onstage, and joked about watching racist porn.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Posted on May 16, 2023   Updated on May 16, 2023, 8:17 am CDT

After six relatively drama-free years of Joe Alwyn, Swifties are struggling to accept Taylor Swift‘s new relationship with The 1975 singer Matty Healy.

Rather than being a fun rebound fling, he’s a highly problematic figure. And since Taylor Swift’s fandom is closely tied to her personal life, her latest choice of boyfriend is shaking some people’s trust in their idol.

The key issue here is Healy’s politics. He has a pretty trollish sense of humor, coupled with a long history of making racist, misogynistic, and generally offensive comments in the media. If Swift is willing to date him, what does that say about her?

Matty Healy’s racist and sexist remarks

In 2019, Healy was accused of islamophobia after railing against organized religion in an interview—specifically singling out Islam. Earlier this year, he performed a Nazi salute onstage, and he’s faced a lot of criticism for his interview on The Adam Friedland Show, a podcast where (among other things) he mockingly speculated about the rapper Ice Spice’s ethnicity and talked about watching a notoriously degrading brand of racist porn.

After the Ice Spice segment went viral and the singer Yungblud called it out as “three privileged white dudes sit around and objectify a young black female artist,” Healy responded with a fake apology video with a black-and-white filter and the word “emo” written on his face.

Swift and Healy’s reported relationship has only been confirmed for a few days, but fans have already had enough time to disapprove of him. The receipts for his offensive behavior are so well-known that much of it is openly documented in the “controversies” section of his Wikipedia page. So a lot of fans find it hard to understand why Swift is dating this guy in the first place. The pair are longtime friends, but back in 2016, he said he’d find it “emasculating” to date her because she’s more famous than him.

@pattypopculture (part 2) Heres the TOP 5 MOST HORRIBLE things Matty Healy has done😡#taylorswift ♬ original sound – Patty

There are now multiple viral Twitter threads and TikToks documenting Healy’s problematic behavior, sparking a conversation about whether Healy is a straightforward bigot or just an edgelord provocateur. (And, indeed, whether this distinction really matters when you’re saying racist stuff in the public eye.)

There are plenty of celebrities whose careers might suffer due to a controversial love interest. But for Taylor Swift, this situation is uniquely messy. Her music and public identity have always been closely intertwined with her love life, and Healy’s trollish, offensive persona clashes with Swift’s inclusive, feminist image.

Why Swifties are worried about Matty Healy

Over the past few years, Swift has become more outspoken on issues like LGBTQ+ rights, feminism, racism, and gun control. She’s advocated against sexual harassment and supports Black Lives Matter. During this evolution from politically neutral country star to progressive A-lister, she’s attracted more fans who share these values. And those fans are obviously not willing to embrace Matty Healy.

On Taylor Swift’s Reddit page, you’ll find fans questioning whether they can still support her through this relationship—and “support” really is the right word here, because some people spend a ton of time, money, and emotion on this fandom.

One key element of this debate is whether it’s fair to judge a woman based on her boyfriend’s behavior and politics. For many people, the answer is a resounding “yes,” for reasons explained by TikTokers @adhdwhileblack and Jamira Burley as this conversation spread on TikTok.

“For any white woman that has ever questioned any Black or person of color’s distrust in you, this is why,” said @adhdwhileblack in a TikTok with over a million views, pointing at a candid photo of Swift and Healy. “Because you are nobody’s ally. This is a major L for Swifties.”

@adhdwhileblack #adhdwhileblack #taylorswift #blackswifties #swifttok #swifties #matthealy #tstheerastour #taylorswiftmattyhealy #taylornation #taylorswifttok #taylorswifterastour ♬ original sound – ADHD while Black

In a stitched reply, TikToker Jamira Burley explained succinctly, “It doesn’t compute for me when people claim to be an ally of a particular marginalized community, but then lay down with someone who is literally our oppressor. Being an ally is not a part-time job.”

@jawnontheinternet #stitch with @ADHD while Black #taylorswift ♬ original sound – Jamira Burley

There have always been racial conflicts within the Taylor Swift fandom, with the stereotypical Swiftie being a straight, white woman. These issues overlap with the political divide between more conservative, country-oriented Swifties and those who connect more with Swift’s current era of outspoken politics and feminist branding. It’s easy to see how the Healy issue could fan the flames.

Some of Healy’s most well-known controversies involve him being deeply, casually disrespectful toward Black women—most disturbingly, in the way he joked about watching racist porn. In that context, the doubts about Taylor Swift’s supposed allyship hit hard.

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*First Published: May 16, 2023, 8:16 am CDT