Late last night (Monday, 6th September), Guy Sebastian posted a video on his social media channels in response to the music industry’s #VaxTheNation campaign.
While Sebastian had initially supported the campaign, the video indicated he didn’t feel comfortable with some of its messaging.
“I would never, ever tell people what to do when it comes to their personal health choices,” said Sebastian, noting that some people have exceptional circumstances to consider when making choices around things such as vaccination.
“I just want to say I’m really sorry,” said Sebastian. “It was not a post that communicated with love or compassion, which I feel is what’s needed when it comes to addressing things like vaccinations.”
Sebastian’s video attracted immediate backlash from within the music industry. Briggs tweeted that “any musicians apologising for trying to get back to work by advocating for a safer audience is self defeating,” and Ben Lee described it as “a really sad example of what happens when your career is dependent on trying to be all things to all people.”
Sydney rapper Urthboy went further, writing “Some artists are expending a huge amount of their cultural capital challenging audiences to get vaxxed. So much respect. And then there’s guy sebastian, one of our most successful artists, who sounds like he agrees with the science but is terrified of losing his anti-vax $”
Sebastian responded directly to Urthboy’s criticism, confirming he’s double-vaxxed, but nevertheless wary of authoritarian moralism. Or, in his words: “I’m all for encouraging people to make the right medical decision for them, but not in absolutes. I have many colleagues and people close to me who have legitimate health circumstances to consider.”
He continued: “They are not anti-vax but are facing extreme pressure on their decisions. I’m not talking about ppl who are believe [sic] in wild conspiracies etc.”
Sebastian also attempted to roll back criticism of the campaign itself, instead suggesting he was disappointed with the caption posted on his own accounts. “I support the campaign, but I personally didn’t like my own caption which didn’t account for those ppl.”
Many were quick to note that neither the #VaxTheNation campaign nor any other pro-vaccination campaign has tried to tell people with a medical exemption to get vaccinated.
Mahalia Barnes wrote: “People who have legitimate and serious health considerations aren’t expected to get the vax and shouldn’t be offended by a campaign to encourage vaccination. Everyone who can should be vaxxed to protect the community and the most vulnerable – ie those who can’t.”
Sebastian seemed to concur, replying that, “I put my name to the campaign and support it but it was the caption I put out that I would have worded differently. That’s literally all there is to this.”
In response, organisers of the #VAXTHENATION campaign have issued the following statement:
We all miss our loved ones – our friends, our family, and being able to gather again. We all want to get back to the magic of live events. #VAXTHENATION is not a political campaign tied to any Government, and we welcome open conversation. The campaign is self-funded by the industry and the position of the LIVE Alliance (Live Industry Venues and Entertainment Alliance) is that high vaccination rates are the only way to get the show back on the road. We are encouraging people to seek professional health advice and make an informed choice. Head to our website vaxthenation.com.au/resources to read more about informed consent. – #VAXTHENATION
Additionally, they have shared this statement from Guy Sebastian:
“There is no confusion, I made the personal decision to be double vaccinated. I support the music industry initiatives to revive our industry, however, I personally don’t believe it is my place to deal in absolutes to tell people what to do in regards to their personal health choices. We need to remember to communicate with empathy and understanding. This has always been my goal.”