It’s 2018. Two minutes of waiting left. The five band members are about to be interviewed by Tom Tilley on Triple J’s ‘Hack’ and are listening to the radio. Stella Donnelly, one of Australia’s most progressive, loveable and talented young artist’s song ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ is playing. Dylan Frost stands up and says, “Don’t worry lads. I got this.” Unfortunately, he had only briefly listened to the chorus and not actually the true core of the song.
This, of course, is purely a fictitious thought of my whacky young feminist brain when I read the first interview between the band members of Sticky Fingers since their year long hiatus. What was happening in that year exactly? “It was tough, it was definitely tough…” stated keyboardist Freddy Crabs. “We’ve had some time to reflect on this. A year is a long time.”
And he’s right. A year is a long time. Which is why I was shocked how their ‘reflection’ could only produce four narrow-minded and outdated words for what I can only describe as a ‘half-apology.’
And because it’s 2018, Tom Tilley was not being a ‘dickhead’, or ‘dumb c*nt’ (as claimed by the fans on the bands Instagram). Tom Tilley gave Frost a chance. Tom Tilley was probably thinking, “Please. Please don’t tell me this guy just said, ‘boys will be boys’ in 2018. Let’s give that another go.’ And so, like any decent journalist, he asked for clarification.
“What did you mean by boys will be boys?”
“Shit happens, man,” replied Frost.
So, no. Hearing that didn’t make me think any responsibility had been taken during that hiatus. It instead sounded like Frost was blaming his behaviour on make-believe male genetics, and the world just being shitty sometimes.
I’m disappointed because this was a chance for Sticky Fingers to have a real conversation about accountability in the Australian music industry.
Their year of reflection was the same year of the U.S. #MeToo movement, a demand for more race representation, and the voices of strong, young female artists speaking up about their experiences. Has Australia listened? Or do we just not care?
If Missy Higgins was arrested at Rottofest after climbing on top of the stage roof and dangerously jumping into the crowd, as Frost did in 2013, I’m sure her career and reputation would’ve been ruined pretty quickly. As funny as that thought is, men in positions of power and fame should no longer be excusable and indestructible. Their behaviour deserves to be scrutinised; they deserve to learn from their mistakes and be made examples of.
Being held accountable tells the public that sexism and racism in our society will not be tolerated. That is why Sticky Fingers needed to publicly publish an honest, heartfelt apology.
So, hallelujah! Sticky Fingers have (finally) not-just-half apologised through a status on their Facebook page, posted on April 16th. Let’s unpack it.
- They’ve actually acknowledged their accusations (Tick.)
- Apologised for not talking about the accusations sooner (Tick.)
- Said sorry without blaming/using excuses (Little tick). Shame. It was so close. The sneaky last paragraph’s focus was about the media ‘talking shit.’ Media will be media, huh?
- Just saying the words ‘I’m sorry.’ (Tick, tick, tick.)
So why am I still going on about this? Because people still don’t seem to know why accountability is so important.
The top comments on Sticky Fingers most recent apology posted read something like:
“Imagine yelling at one woman on an off occasion and having to apologise, not only to her, but the entire country…”
“Imagine if during your drunken nights, you offended someone and then had to apologise to a whole nation.”
“Dylan you are punishing, (explaining) yourself too much!”
“imagine Led Zeppelin apologising for some of the stuff they got up too ??”
Yes. Let’s “imagine”. Firstly, that everyone had to apologise to a whole nation when offending, yelling or unnecessarily intimidating someone.
Just ‘imagine’…how issues of violence and offence would rapidly stop happening.
Imagine a world with that kind of accountability, where people are no longer afraid to speak up, with the message sent to the entire nation that this kind of behaviour is not okay.
Because being held accountable can be “punishing”, but that’s an important step to learn from an experience, to grow, and to ensure it never happens again.
And if Led Zeppelin, and other such bands, had to apologise for the “stuff they got up to” since the 1970s, other future bands such as Sticky Fingers probably would know how NOT to behave by now.
I’m disappointed at what Australia is willing to tolerate. Fans just didn’t care about the rumours at all. You may be adamant you’re not sexist or racist. You may never say an offensive joke or word. But what does it say about you if you hear serious accusations involving those issues, and brush them aside? What does it say about you if you support those who act that way? What does it say about whether you’re complicit in letting racism and sexism continue? I’m not saying you can’t forgive, but I am saying you should want a decent apology.
Maybe you identify as a boy. Be mad when people group you into one belittling and monolithic category. Be mad it was suggested publicly that it’s in your genetics to be violent, offensive, hurtful or lacking empathy. Men and boys are nobler and smarter than their actions being justified in such a simple phrase.
Maybe you suffer from mental health issues. Be mad that people use this as an excuse for toxic behaviours. Know that your mental health does not mean you are evil. You are stronger and kinder than to make people around you feel threatened. You can apologise and be forgiven.
Maybe you are just a fan. You are dedicated and supportive, and that is why you need to demand answers. That is why it’s okay to be mad. Hold your idols to account so they won’t let you down, so they can keep performing and so they can grow. Do it because you think they’re great and should be enjoyed and respected by absolutely everyone.
Maddy Revitt | @raddymevitt