It’s been just over one month since the launch of #vaxthenation, which saw more than 400 of Australia’s biggest artists and performers join forces with leading tour promoters, music festivals, venues, ticketing agencies, record labels, comedy producers, theatre, opera and dance companies, media outlets, industry associations, peak bodies and global brands like YouTube and TikTok in a new campaign asking Australians to help ‘stop the interruptions’ and get vaccinated.
In response, Ben Mitchell released a song called Free The Nation and started a campaign of his own. Free The Nation Music has since seen over 170 vaccinated and unvaccinated musicians stand up for freedom against discrimination, segregation and fear, and promoting choice, respect and love for all.
However, the one thing we can all agree on is that the COVID-19 vaccine has left us divided.
So, we wanted to go to the source itself, and find out just what the country music community thinks about this topical subject. While it would be impossible to gauge every single opinion, we have carefully curated our twelve country artists to represent a range of different ages, genders, locations, family dynamics, life experiences as well as places they are at in their respected careers.
While not requested by the artists themselves, to allow a safe and open space to share their opinions freely without consequence, we have assigned each artist a random number and omitted key details to keep their anonymity.
In this twelve-part daily series, we asked our artists a range of taboo, topical and controversial questions to find out what the Australian country music community thinks of COVID-19.
NOTE: OPINIONS IN THIS ARTICLE ARE THE ARTIST’S OWN. PLEASE CONSIDER DOING YOUR OWN RESEARCH AND/OR SPEAKING TO A GP OR SCIENTIFIC OR MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.
For other artists in the series, go here > https://tinselandtapshoes.com/tag/covid/
Are you currently vaccinated or unvaccinated, and why did you make that decision?
Artist 3: I’m unvaccinated. I am not happy with the current vaccines that are available and, also, because the actual trial periods for the vaccine doesn’t end for another year and a half. It’s disgusting they allowed them to happen that quickly. I’m not interested in anyone screwing around in my DNA. They just don’t know what the outcomes are. When COVID first happened, it was like, “He died in a car crash, but had COVID in his system, that’s a COVID death.” Now, it’s like, “They had the vaccine last week and had a heart attack, but that’s not related.” You can’t have it both ways.
Do you think artists/performers should use their platform to encourage others to get vaccinated?
Artist 3: Oh, hell no! I don’t get to tell people that follow me what they do with their bodies. It’s nobody’s f*cking place to be sending that sh*t around. I get that people want it to go back to normal, but it’s never going back to go unless enough people stand up and say, “This is not the way to do it.”
What is your opinion on vaccinated only events? For example, Big Red Bash and Broken Hill Mundi Mundi Bash’s new ‘no jab, no jive’ policy, requiring ticket holders, artists, crew, volunteers and vendors over the age of 16 to be fully vaccinated to attend the events in 2022.
Artist 3: I think it’s stupid. I think they’re gonna turn in the bigger spreader events considering they know you can catch and spread it. How is that going to stop anyone from catching COVID-19? Surely it’s my individual choice to take that risk, like no different than driving a car. If I want to go to a festival and possibly catch COVID-19, that is also my individual risk if I’m vaccinated or unvaccinated. I’ve heard up to 30% of Australians don’t want to get vaccinated, what festival do you know of that can afford to lose 30% of their patronage? I don’t know any festival that could afford that.
Would you mandate your own personal gigs be vaccinated only?
Artist 3: No. I’ve already been asked to do one and I said, “I can’t, because I won’t be vaccinated.” They said, “That’s okay.” But how could I possibly play to people that are only vaccinated?
Do you think those who choose not to be vaccinated should have the same freedoms as those who do and why?
Artist 3: Yeah, it’s individual risk. You don’t get a vaccine to protect other people, you get a vaccine to protect yourself. It doesn’t stop you from catching or spreading it. How is that protecting anybody? It stops you from having less symptoms, apparently, even though people are still dying like crazy overseas. If I’m forced to get it by my workplace, I’ll be making them sign a piece of paper that says they’re responsible if something happens to me. There’s no way on Earth I want to put that crap in my body unless I’m forced [and even then,] I would struggle with it. It would be a massive choice.
Life’s not just about working, it’s about joy and passions, like music and theatre. The stupidest and dumbest thing about that whole situation is if you’re 90, but you’re generally healthy with no underlying major underlying issues, the chances of you dying from COVID-19 are like .004%. It’s miniscule, but we have to put this sh*t in our bodies to protect some woman who is 85 … the average life expectancy age for women is 84 … you’re welcome for that extra year of life! The whole “what if it’s somebody you know?” It will be at some point. It’s gonna be my mum and dad. It’s going to be your mum and dad. There’s just no way around that, but it’s gonna happen and there’s nothing you can do about it. If it’s COVID, a car crash, or they pass away beautifully in their sleep when they’re 95. Whatever it is, I’m still gonna be sad. That’s no reason to shut down society. I’ve had friends say, “You’re being harsh,” but you’ve got people locked down in their houses, literally, not allowed to be out after dark … You can catch COVID at 8.45pm but not at 9. What the f*ck?!
Are you concerned that speaking out about the COVID-19 vaccine will impact your career in a negative way?
Artist 3: Oh, big time! Everything’s so uncertain at the moment. Even social media. It’s so bad on both sides, like friends that have known each other for 20-30 years and more, they’re just blocking each other on Facebook just because they have a different view on a vaccine. It’s ridiculous the way the officials and media have made this so divisive for no reason.
What are your opinions on people who don’t share your same beliefs on the COVID-19 vaccine?
Artist 3: Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. I have no problem if you want to get the vaccine. If you want to put that in your body, go ahead. I’m not fighting against the people that want to have the vaccine. I just don’t want to have it. My family have been vaccinated, and it’s to the point where we can’t talk about it any more. There are a few people I know that were on the fence, and now they’ve had it because they want to travel. If you want to travel and they make it mandatory, get it closer to the date. You don’t have to have a today. Wait and see, because you hear everything from “It’s completely fine” to “Within 36 months everyone that’s had it is gonna die.”
To those you have voiced your opinions to (whether it be to fans, friends, or family), what kind of reception have you received?
Artist 3: What is the type of argument where you’re having a discussion with someone and they just call you an idiot? It’s that. They’re attacking you personally as opposed to attacking your argument. I would have a discussion with anybody about it any day of the week but the problem is, very quickly, it turns into, “You’re just a conspiracy theorist.” No, I’m an alternative theorist. I’m agnostic. What you are agreeing with is the mainstream narrative. I’ve looked at everything from “The vaccine’s the greatest thing that has ever happened to humanity” to “They’re trying to depopulate the earth to 500,000 people.”
But in general, they just go back to “You’re a conspiracy theorist,” because it’s their way of literally writing off anything you say after that point as not being true. You get automatically lumped in with the anti-vaxxers, there’s no middle ground, there’s no “I’m just about freedom.” I’ve never heard an anti-vaxxer say, “You’re a piece of sh*t because you got vaccinated,” like, you do what you gotta do. I’m all for you doing what you want to do, but you don’t get to tell me what I want to do.
Do you think your location has any influence on your decision to get vaccinated/be unvaccinated? For example, someone in a major city who have been largely affected by lockdowns might have more urgency to get vaccinated than those in regional areas/other states?
Artist 3: No, the only reason I would get it is if I was forced or coerced. I’ve got musician friends [who live in different states] that have been told if they’re not vaccinated, they can’t gig, like literally, can’t earn a living any more. So, it’s not the fear of the virus, it’s the fear of not being able to work if I don’t have the vaccine. At my age, I’m never making it famous, so is it worth putting that sh*t in my body? That’s really what it comes down to. They just don’t know. Why would I do it if they don’t know?
How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career?
Artist 3: Well, for starters, I’ve lost a sh*tload of money. I don’t know a muso that hasn’t lost $20,000 of work at least.
For other artists in the series, go here > https://tinselandtapshoes.com/tag/covid/