Some of Taylor Swift’s Black fans have renewed their frustration over the singer’s connection to The 1975 frontman Matty Healy after Swift announced a collaboration with rapper Ice Spice.
While fans were excited about the remixed “Midnights” track 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 some deemed racist, including laughing at and joining in on jokes mocking 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 out together. Healy has also been photographed at several of the Eras Tour concerts.
Given that connection, Swift’s collaboration with Ice Spice seemed like a calculated PR move, some said. Others said they believe the Ice Spice collaboration was likely long in the works, but they remained disappointed by the fact that Swift has yet to address Healy’s previous comments.
“I don’t believe that Matty Healy is a demon conservative,” said Brooke Giles, 27, who considers herself a die-hard Swiftie. “And she [Swift] is not commenting on it. Instead, she’s finding more ways again to profit off of controversy.”
Representatives for the three artists did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Healy made the controversial comments on a February episode of the podcast “The Adam Friedland Show.” During the episode, Healy, who is white, can be heard laughing at jokes that hosts Friedland and Nick Mullen make about Ice Spice’s ethnicity (Ice Spice is Dominican and Nigerian).
He also appeared to encourage the co-hosts when they imitated Chinese and Hawaiian accents, and, later, laughed when the two imitated Japanese accents.
The podcast episode was pulled from Apple and Spotify.
In April, Healy apologized for his comments, addressing Ice Spice directly while performing in Auckland, New Zealand.
“I never meant to hurt anybody,” he said. “I’m sorry if I’ve offended you and, like, Ice Spice, I’m sorry. It’s not because I’m annoyed that me joking got misconstrued, it’s cause I don’t want Ice Spice to think I’m a d—. I love you, Ice Spice. I’m so sorry. I don’t want anything to be misconstrued as mean. I don’t mind being a bit of a joker … but I don’t want to be perceived as, like, kind of mean-hearted.”
Healy, Swift and Ice Spice have not weighed in on the controversy.
In her announcement on Wednesday, Swift said she is a “massive fan” of Ice Spice, adding “after getting to know her I can confirm: she is THE ONE to watch.”
“Sweetest person ever thank u sm,” Ice Spice wrote in her response tweet.
Ice Spice had previously shared her love of The 1975 in a Jan. 25 video interview with Elle.
Discussions surrounding Swift and Healy have pervaded social media for days.
“i love taylor swift as much as 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 association with Healy. The tag was also used in a fan-written letter which was widely “liked” and shared on Twitter.
“Your voice holds tremendous power and right now your silence is palpable,” the fan wrote. “We urge you to reflect on the impact of your own and your associates’ behavior and engage in genuine self-reflection.”
Swift fans like Mike Mason, 24, said they are still angered by Healy’s comments.
“When I saw the comments, I was honestly so disgusted and angry,” Mason said in an email to NBC News. “It was completely racist and uncalled for, and I don’t think his apology was genuine at all.”
It was completely racist and uncalled for.
-Mike Mason, taylor swift fan, on comments matty healy made during a february podcast appearance
Amid the discourse, some Swifties have come to Healy’s defense, noting that he previously advocated for progressive causes and women’s issues.
Comedian and activist Franchesca Ramsey suggested the defense of Healy could be due to the parasocial relationship — the attachment that fans may feel toward a public figure, especially personable people who are very active online — people have with Swift.
The artist is known for intentionally leaving clues of all kinds in her music videos, lyrics and social media for her devoted fans to analyze and dissect.
”my take is a large percentage of Taylor’s audience feels extreme loyalty to her bc of the parasocial relationship she’s cultivated with them throughout her career,” Ramsey tweeted. “showing allegiance to her on social media is a way to feign closeness & a chance at being picked/noticed by her.”
Some said they believe the controversy serves as an example of Swift’s privilege and participation in white-centric feminism.
“I don’t think she’s a terrible, awful person,” Giles said. “I always like to think that is pretty well-established. But I do think that she’s very careless in her privilege.”
Others expressed disappointment that the controversy has overshadowed Ice Spice.
Ava Brown, 24, said as a longtime Swift fan, said she finds the Healy discourse “frustrating.”
“… a lot of people are defending the things that he says in a way that’s like, ‘Oh, he was just making a joke,’ or ‘Oh, it’s performance art,’” she said.
But Brown, who recently attended an Eras Tour concert, said to some degree the discourse around Healy is annoying because it detracts from the fun of Swift’s music.
“I’m just a fan of Taylor Swift,” she said. “I don’t know what he said that was right or wrong or any of that. I think part of what’s become frustrating is that I just want to listen to her music, and I just want to be a fan.”