The day after Bryan Adams was scorched on social media for his racially-charged commentary on who to blame for the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Vancouver–raised rocker was only semi-regretful.
“Apologies to any and all that took offence to my posting yesterday,” Adams wrote on his Instagram page on Tuesday, referring to his inflammatory post made there on Monday. “No excuse, I just wanted to have a rant about the horrible animal cruelty in these wet-markets being the possible source of the virus, and promote veganism.”
The remarks referred to the common – but unconfirmed – theory that COVID-19 was initially passed to humans through the eating of bats, possibly from a wet market in Wuhan, China.
Other prominent animal-advocating musicians have made public statements on COVID-19 origin theories, but faced little of the heat the singer is taking. While the others - including Paul McCartney and Queen’s Brian May - have commented on the broader societal issue of eating meat, Adams’ remarks raised issues of race and culture.
On Twitter and Instagram on Monday, the 60-year-old musician and long-time vegan blamed the current coronavirus pandemic and his postponed concerts on “bat-eating, wet-market-animal selling, virus-making greedy bastards."
The problem with Adams post on Monday was the harsh racial tone, according to a prominent Chinese-Canadian activist who spoke to The Globe and Mail. “I don’t believe Adams is a racist, but the trouble with what he said is that he brings up the whole racial trope, without thinking of the implications," said Cheuk Kwan, formerly the executive director of the Harmony Movement, a Toronto-based nonprofit organization that promotes and advocates for societal diversity and inclusion. "It’s unfortunate.”
On Monday night, Adams was supposed to be performing his 1983 album Cuts Like a Knife at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The concert, the first of a three-night residency at the venue, was postponed because of the COVID-19 lockdown currently. So, instead of singing Straight From the Heart on stage, Adams took to social media.
With Adams’s expletive-filled commentary perceived as an attack on Chinese people that reinforced racial stereotypes, the social media backlash against the Reckless hit-maker was swift and viral.
“Bryan Adams,” tweeted Tanya Tagaq, the noted Inuk throat singer from Nunavut, “can suck my bat.”
Adams deleted his controversial tweet, but a longer message on Instagram remained active. The post contains a video snippet of Adams strumming and singing Cuts Like a Knife.
A philanthropist, humanitarian and Order of Canada honouree, Adams in 2010 received the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award for his participation in a number of charitable concerts and campaigns over the course of his career.
Monday’s rant was not Adams’s first social media foray into the issue of wet markets and COVID-19. “Let’s not forget this virus comes from an open wet market where animals and fish of all descriptions are sold together either dead or alive,” he posted to Instagram on March 25. “This has been going on for decades and as a result, so have these viruses.”
On March 29, referencing his 1991 song House Arrest, Adams posted a message against factory farming to Instagram: “Us humans are to blame for this ... and until we wake up and stop taking from the animal kingdom, these viruses are gonna keep coming and nature will have its pandemic.”
In April, McCartney opined on the issue as a guest on The Howard Stern Show. “Let’s face it, it is a little bit medieval eating bats,” said the former member of the Beatles. “They will not close down these wet markets, that got us into this trouble in the first place.”
Speaking to British music magazine New Music Express last month, Queen guitarist’s May also connected a carnivore diet to the disease: “This pandemic seemed to come from people eating animals. It’s time to re-examine our world in a way that doesn’t abuse other species.”
In a recent interview with The Globe, Alberta folk balladeer Jann Arden also expressed concerns about a meat-eating culture: “All these type of viruses come from cruelty to animals,” she said. “They stem from animals harvested for human consumption ... but we just don’t seem to get it. Viruses will get smarter and more lethal."
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