The participation of Mustasch in this week’s third semifinal of Melodifestivalen 2021 is one of the most discussed topics on social media. Not because of their song Contagious, but because of Ralf Gyllenhammar, the lead singer. Forty people have reached out to SVT to question their decision to include the band in their line-up.
Ralf Gyllenhammar’s conviction
To understand the current conversation, we have to go back to June 2017. During a filming day for an ongoing project, Ralf Gyllenhammar pushed a bottle of beer between the breasts of a female co-worker. The woman pressed charges later that year for sexual harrassment. The victim, Isabell, now aged 28, went public this week, by speaking to Aftonbladet about her experience.
In June 2018, the court ruled that Gyllenhammar had indeed crossed the line. He was convicted and required to pay a daily fine of 200 krona for fifty days, a total sum of 10,000kr (approximately 1,000 Euros).
However, in May 2019, Mustasch released new merchandise on their website. One of the t-shirts appeared to make a mockery of the incident. The shirt depicted female breasts with a beer bottle between them and the Mustasch logo over that. After a lot of criticism, the band decided to stop selling the t-shirt in question. In a recent interview, Mustasch called the decision to even start selling the shirt “completely idiotic and disgusting”.
“Don’t be a pig”
On social media, several rock acts have now started a campaign to show that Gyllenhammar’s actions do not represent the rock scene. One of the most prolific moments in the campaign is a video that was shared on Facebook by singer Scarlet. Her video features Lillasyster singer Martin Westerstrand during a concert. Lillasyster are also competing in Melodifestivalen this year, having qualified for Andra Chansen from the first semifinal with their song Pretender. In the video that Scarlet, Westerstrand’s girlfriend, posted, the singer speaks out against sexual harrassment, by stating:
My girlfriend is an artist and as a result of that, I have experienced and gained an insight in the way guys can be damn useless by sending dickpics left, right and centre and behave like absolute pigs, because they don’t understand that girls and boys are the same. So f*cking understand that. All of you who send dickpics, go to hell.Martin Westerstrand during a concert
Ever since Scarlet posted her statement, rock acts in Sweden have been showing support for the action with the line “Don’t be a pig”. Aftonbladet confirms that previous Melodifestivalen entrants and songwriters have reached out to them to compliment them on a critical interview with Mustasch, where they asked the band about their controversial history.
Mustasch reacts on Facebook
After questions arose surrounding Mustasch’s participation, Ralf Gyllenhammar issued a public apology in a video on their official Facebook profile. He states that he never meant any harm, but deeply regrets what has happened. In the statement, Gyllenhammar mentions that he has apologised to the victim before, but wishes to publicly do so once more. The printing and selling of the t-shirts is a “deep and bitter disappointment”, which they still regret to this day. The full statement can be found on Facebook.
SVT: A zero tolerance policy
After SVT revealed that Mustasch were set to take part in this year’s Melodifestivalen, several people reached out to the broadcaster. One of them is Isabell, the woman who was sexually harrassed by Ralf Gyllenhammar. Camilla Hagert, press manager at SVT, has confirmed that forty e-mails have come in to question their decision. The broadcaster replied with the following statement:
This is a topic that makes people emotional and engages them. What Melodifestivalen and its editors have decided is that, once you’ve served your sentence, you’re welcome to compete in Melodifestivalen.The answer Isabell received when contacting SVT, published by Aftonbladet
At the same time, Karin Gunnarsson, the producer of Melodifestivalen, has spoken to Aftonbladet. In the interview, she condemned several of the Mustasch actions since the court case, calling the t-shirts “sick, tasteless and highly inappropriate”, adding that SVT has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment and abuse. However, she also added that considering all factors, they do not think Mustasch should be excluded from taking part in Melodifestivalen 2021.
Mustasch will be competing in semifinal 3 of Melodifestivalen 2021 this Saturday with their song “Contagious”.