Troye Sivan responds to ‘Rush’ body diversity backlash: ‘There wasn’t a ton of thought’

A still from Troye Sivan's Rush music video.

Australian pop star Troye Sivan has addressed the criticism of his latest music video, after some fans accused him of featuring only slim and toned body types. 

Five years on from his second album Bloom, and the anticipation for new Sivan music hit its peak, as the release of his “poppers” anthem “Rush” neared.

The big day arrived last week (13 July), with many fans immediately dubbing the song the queer hit of the summer. Alongside the release Kylie’s “Padam Padam”, Sivan’s “Rush” signalled a summer crammed full of big, gay Australian anthems

While the love for the new single was pretty much unanimous, things got a little more complex when it came to the accompanying video.

Across three minutes, the clip sees Sivan and his queer troupe engaging in a little kissing, some light ar*e-smacking, and the occasional bit of gyrating. There’s pole dancing, voguing, and glittering body paint to boot. In essence, it’s a visual ode to queer love and liberation

On the flip side, though, it was quickly noted that those starring in the music video all seemed to be of the same particular body types: slim or toned. Larger body types, it appeared, were barred from entry.

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The lack of body diversity sparked both light and dark discourse. There was an abundance of admittedly hilarious memes, while some voiced genuine concern and sadness at seeing such a dearth of different bods.

One critic called the video a “return to body fascism and emaciation,” while another voiced “frustration and disappointment” at seeing the visuals cater solely to thin bodies.

Others saw it as exposing the fatphobia directed at fellow queer musician Sam Smith. While Sivan was largely praised for focusing on queer sex and nudity in his video, Smith faced an intense backlash.

This picture shows queer singers Sam Smith and Troye Sivan against a still of Troye Sivan's new Rush music video.
Sam Smith and Troye Sivan have both released queer music videos, but one got more hate than the other. (Youtube/@TroyeSivan/Getty)

Even Sivan’s fellow pop megastars and collaborators got involved, with “Boys” singer Charli XCX coming to his defence. In a tweet, she wrote: “We live in a world where audiences feel like expression or art isn’t worth their time unless it appeases every single unspoken requirement. It is so boring.”

Following days of discourse, Sivan has now responded to those feeling let down by the video, saying he “definitely hears the critique”.

In an interview with Billboard, he said: “To be honest, it just wasn’t a thought we had – we obviously weren’t saying, ‘We want to have one specific type of person in the video’. We just made the video, and there wasn’t a ton of thought put behind that.”

Alongside the negative reactions to the video, though, Sivan said that he was troubled to see some critics flipping the body shaming on its head and targeting him as a “twink”.

“There was this article yesterday, and they were talking about [the lack of body diversity], and in the same sentence, this person said ‘Eat something, you stupid twinks’,” Sivan noted, referring to the same critic who branded the video body fascism.

Troye sivan in a red vest and leather chaps in the new Rush music video.
Troye Sivan is ready for the sweatiest party of his life in “Rush”. (YouTube)

“That really bummed me out to read that because I’ve had my own insecurities with my body image. Everyone’s body is as beautiful as it is, including my own, and it just sucks to see people talking about other people’s bodies,” 28-year-old Sivan said.

In 2018, the singer shared a mirror selfie on Instagram and revealed to his fans that he was “feeling really weird and sh***y about my body for the first time in my life, and I hate that”.

While the social media debates about “Rush” raged on for days, it’s unlikely that the South-African-born singer will have minded too much – it’s racked up nearly four million views in less than a week.

For now, the discourse has seemingly eased, and Sivan can go back to focusing on his upcoming third studio album, Something To Give Each Other, which is due out on 13 October.

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