The Greens candidate for Footscray in this month’s state election has become embroiled in controversy over his time as the singer in a hip-hop group with offensive lyrics about domestic violence, date rape and drug use, but aims to contest the election after apologising for his words.
Performing under the pseudonym FatGut, Angus McAlpine was the frontman and lyricist for Melbourne rap duo Broken Aesthetiks, whose controversial lyrics included references to wanting to hurt his girlfriend after a breakup and putting “date rape drugs in her drink”.
Mr McAlpine told Star Weekly he was ashamed of the mistakes he had made in his early 20s, but that he has since turned his life around and wants to challenge that kind of toxic masculinity.
“I was involved in hip-hop culture and a workplace culture that was very insular and I was on a path of self-destruction,” he said.
“It doesn’t reflect the person I am or the values I have now.”
Mr McAlpine said he went overseas to get away from “a negative group of people”, realising he had been immersed in a culture of “toxic masculinity”.
“I apologise completely and unreservedly for any offence or triggering or hurt I have caused,” he said.
“I have never been dishonest or hidden the fact that I had a very negative early adult life; if I could go back and explain that the disgusting, smutty things I said could do harm then I would.”
The deadline has passed for the Greens to be able to field an alternative candidate for the November 24 election.
Labor candidate for Footscray Katie Hall told Star Weekly that the Greens should nevertheless be disendorsing Mr McAlpine as their candidate.
“They have one standard for everyone else and a different standard for themselves,” she said.
“We have epidemic rates of violence against women in this country, I’m horrified by it and I think the Greens are being politically expedient by not disendorsing him.”
“[The Greens] disendorsed a candidate for comments about shoplifting, so it’s important to not have a double standard when it comes to this candidate’s comments about rape.”
Health minister Jill Hennessy said the Greens need to take some responsibility for the “repugnant and offensive” lyrics.
“The Greens seem to be backing this fellow in,” she told ABC radio.
“These [lyrics] are offensive, they are fundamentally against the direction that we are working so hard to take our community around respect for women and reducing violence against women.”
Appearing with Mr McAlpine in Footscray on Tuesday, Greens state party leader Samantha Ratnam described the lyrics as reprehensible and unacceptable, but said the party does not intend to stand Mr McAlpine down as a candidate.
“Angus has apologised, taken full responsibility, and been frank about his journey of change, which started out with a huge realisation about the damage his words had caused and had the potential to cause,” she said.
“That is somebody taking responsibility, and that is something we need to see more of… if we are to see global cultural change in toxic masculinity, we need more men to front up.”
Ms Ratnam said Mr McAlpine has left his past behind him and that the ‘Me Too’ movement is not about casting people aside and ostracising them from society for ever.
“It’s about restoration and it’s about attitudinal and behavioural change going into the future… Angus has demonstrated that true change can happen.”
Ms Ratnam also criticised Labor for preferencing the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party ahead of the Greens in the Western Metropolitan region for the upper house, a decision that could help tip Greens MLC Huong Truong out of Parliament at the election.
Greens state co-convenor Colleen Hartland, a former upper-house western suburbs representative, told Star Weekly she was disgusted by the lyrics but the party stands behind Mr McAlpine.
“That’s not the Angus I know. The Angus I have known for three years is not the Angus who was putting out these disgusting and repulsive things,” she said.
Ms Hartland said Mr McAlpine has owned up to his past and strongly repudiated it, showing with his actions that he had changed.
“I have seen him challenging men for their behaviour and I’ve seen him try to change the toxic masculinity culture,” she said.
“He’s a good example of a young man who has seen that life was really bad.”
Ms Hartland conceded the Greens still have work to do to improve their internal processes and show greater respect for women.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.