Kirin J Callinan was discreetly removed from the Laneway Festival 2018 lineup after organizers took heed of complaints over the Sydney-based provocateur’s recent behavior. Last November, Callinan sparked controversy when he flashed his penis on the ARIA Awards red carpet. Though the act was undoubtedly grossly inappropriate, Callinan chose to expose himself during the least opportune moment in cultural history as conversations over #MeToo and male privilege dominated headlines. Callinan did not apologize for the incident.
Now, Australian radio station triple J’s HACK reports that Callinan was taken off the Laneway lineup about a week ago after fellow Aussie artists voiced their distaste for his lewd behavior. The Brisbane rapper Siam Vandermuelen, who goes by Miss Blanks, as well as the Melbourne-based artist Angie McMahon are both quoted in the article. Vandermuelen is the ambassador to the hotline 1800 LANEWAY, which aims to promote the fest as a safe space. Vandermuelen told HACK that Callinan’s ARIAs stunt was just one of several incidents that she deemed inappropriate; in 2013, Callinan faked an epileptic fit at Sugar Mountain, and he wears blackface in a photo included in the album art for last year’s Bravado. On Instagram, Vandermuelen writes: “[Callinan’s] long and recent history of reckless and insensitive actions reinforces an entitlement which permits Kirin and others like him to dismiss valid issues, and normalises racism, ableism and sexual assault. Amidst the ‘me too’ discussions, it’s important to see preventative actions as well as support systems.”
McMahon, who will perform at Laneway as the winner of triple J’s Unearthed competition, told HACK that Callinan’s controversial persona sometimes hurts more than it helps. “If you want to make commentary on something like that, which is really important, don’t do it in a way that is also damaging. Flashing your junk in public is probably not beneficial to anyone. You can speak on this positive movement in a really positive way. That’s not what he did,” she said.
Callinan announced that he will no longer perform at Laneway via his Instagram story today. Callinan did not address the controversy, writing: “To all the kind and inquistive folk that’a bin reachin out re Laneway ~ I appreciate the concern & I’ll address this in time, you have my word. As it stands, I will no longer be performing at Laneway this year.”