"it was generally accepted that Swift was a kind, genuine person."
July 22, 2016 2:58 AM   Subscribe

When Did the Media Turn Against Taylor Swift? - In an interview with The Guardian, she came out as a feminist. A charitable read is that Swift was simply growing as a person as she entered her mid-20s. A more cynical outlook is that, in the words of BuzzFeed's Anne Helen Petersen, she was employing "an incredibly savvy image maintenance strategy." These interpretations are not mutually exclusive. [...] It's increasingly popular to use celebrities as signposts (or, as Roxane Gay puts it, "brand ambassadors") for various strains of political thought [...] This development has been very beneficial for the media — entertainment news spreads better when injected with a dose of political signaling, and potentially abstract political discussions spread better if they're attached to a recognizable name — and for an artist, there can be definite benefits in having your work linked with a specific politics. But the risks are heightened, too: Your failings become not just the failings of a person, but the failings of an ideology, and must be denounced even more loudly. [previously]

Kim Kardashian’s Taylor Swift-Kanye West Snapchat story, explained - 'And when it comes to Swift’s feuds, none of them compare to her ongoing feud with Kanye West.

'Swift has, since that infamous Video Music Awards interruption in 2009, cast Kanye as a bully to her innocence, a liar to her truth teller.'


An interruption that she literally built a narrative around: her 2010 VMA performance, performing a track titled Innocence

A Close Reading of Kim Kardashian West’s Latest Film: Kanye and Taylor’s Phone Call

How Kim Kardashian Beat Taylor Swift at Her Own Game

After Kim Kardashian’s Exposé, Taylor Swift’s Girl Squad Can’t Stop Making Everything Worse

(a blast from the recent pre-Famous past ) 5 Important Reasons I Can't Love Taylor Swift Anymore: 1. Her Music Videos Are Full Of Cultural Appropriation; 2. She Constantly Displays White Feminism; 3. Her Use Of "Squad" Is Also Cultural Appropriation; 4. ... And The Demographics Of Her "Squad" Are Problematic; 5. She Refuses To Acknowledge Her Privilege
posted by cendawanita (205 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 


I feel like this an excellent opportunity to link to Taylor Swift Swallows the World.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 3:29 AM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is very interesting even if you're not the least interested in the Swifts and Wests of the world, or celebrity gossip for that matter. It's really about how public brands are made and destroyed in an age where everything is fabricated to be super real and Internet drama reigns supreme. Even your fans can turn on you fast if you're no longer perceived as genuine anymore.

I have no doubt that Swift is already planning her comeback, stronger-than-ever release and tour where she settles scores and kicks asses. Followed by reconciliation a couple of years down the road, of course...

Someone needs to write down the equivalent of The Hero with a Thousand Faces for brands and celebrities because at this point it's basically the same repeating patterns.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:37 AM on July 22, 2016 [30 favorites]


One of the problems Taylor Swift has of course is that she can not in public be seen to object to the part of the lyrics she almost certainly does object strongly to. A line about wanting to have sex with her? If that was a real problem she'd have quit before she started. Calling her a bitch? (Her official objection). If she doesn't hear worse on Twitter every day I'd be surprised.

But "I made her famous"? That's pistols at dawn stuff. She's not allowed to admit it, but she's incredibly ambitious (you don't get to where she is right at the top in a competitive field without a vast amount ambition). She however has to be seen as nice and has even managed to weaponise niceness. And she can't be seen as ambitious, meaning that she can't actually object to the part that hurts (although her initial reaction was - but keeping that up would be far more damaging to her than losing the war).

And I also suspect that Kanye do not understand this at more than an intellectual level. If I were to point out the biggest overt publicity seekers in America it would be the Kardashians (or possibly The Donald, but I digress). And they know Taylor's one of their own even if she's quieter about it. I think that Kanye thought he was doing her a favour - and based on the part he gave Taylor over the snapchat he was and she knew he was and treated it as such. But he hit one of the few things that made her furious. And then they felt they were being savaged for doing her a favour, hence Kim's response.

It's weird - it's one of the very few celebrity spats I've seen that I think is real and not staged. And Taylor's uncharacteristic missteps are part of why I think it's real. (The only other one I can think of involving Taylor Swift is Katy Perry and her backup dancers which is again a clash of values).
posted by Francis at 3:52 AM on July 22, 2016 [22 favorites]


And she can't be seen as ambitious, meaning that she can't actually object to the part that hurts (although her initial reaction was - but keeping that up would be far more damaging to her than losing the war).

Try "a woman can't be seen as ambitious." That's the bottom line, as it has been for any and all women musicians. Kim Kardashian gets a pass, as she's seen as an adjunct to a male- but to be independently ambitious like Taylor Swift? That's a recipe for being brought down and put in her place.
posted by happyroach at 4:26 AM on July 22, 2016 [31 favorites]


Every time I get frustrated and annoyed with all the stupid little disagreements, spats, and narcissism of small differences strife in the queer punk scene, I read some articles like the ones linked here and remember that it's not as bad as all that.
posted by Dysk at 4:33 AM on July 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


That's the bottom line, as it has been for any and all women musicians. Kim Kardashian gets a pass, as she's seen as an adjunct to a male

That's an incredibly tone-deaf and sexist thing to say, with a strong low-key racism, tht sounds practically similar to Swift's own official response after Kardashian-West's GQ spread. This intersection is also probably why some are enjoying their schadenfreude more than most this week.
posted by cendawanita at 4:38 AM on July 22, 2016 [15 favorites]


That's the bottom line, as it has been for any and all women musicians. Kim Kardashian gets a pass, as she's seen as an adjunct to a male

Wasn't Kim already A Thing before Kanye got into her life?

I mean, I only really skim across the surface of this sort of thing, but I thought that Kim had established herself as a star in her own right, and then weirdo Kanye came along and he's so erratic that at times it seems that he's the adjunct to her. (From where I stand, and from what little I consume of the entire DRAMA.)

Anyway, this entire thing DOES feel manufactured to me (from where I stand, etc). Any press is good press. The names keep floating around, people keep talking about them. It's better than having nobody talk about you.
posted by hippybear at 4:45 AM on July 22, 2016 [12 favorites]


And almost-forgotten, the producer for the Grammy's on the record saying she's heard an advance track.

The 1989 era has been so good for her, once she's discovered feminism to be a useful defence, and one she employs not just against a black man, but also other women artists eg Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Avril Lavigne, and Tina Fey.
posted by cendawanita at 4:47 AM on July 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


It helps to focus on concrete details. According to this useful transcript, it seems to me that Taylor Swift o.k.'d multiple lines, including the "still have sex" as well as "it made her famous":

TS: "Yeah, I mean, I don't think anybody would listen to that and think, like, oh, that's a real, that's a real diss. Like, she must be crying.”

TS: “… Are gonna be like, yeah she does, it made her famous. You know, but it's more provocative to say like still have sex."

TS: "It's not, it doesn't matter to me. There's not like one that hurts my feelings and one that doesn't."


In this light, nobody should know what's real anymore. Did Swift mis-predict her own reaction to the video, and thus was merely naive at the time expressing above? Or did she feign being offended?

Perhaps one fundamental sign of inauthenticity is when art consumers are called to evaluate its politics, but the artists' relationships are highly manipulated and over-processed into hyper-reality.

But "I made her famous"? That's pistols at dawn stuff. She's not allowed to admit it, but she's incredibly ambitious (you don't get to where she is right at the top in a competitive field without a vast amount ambition).

No, the problem here is that one can be pathologically ambitious. In the same transcript:

TS: “… And I have the idea to do it and I create these things and concepts. Like, I'm always gonna respect you.”

She clearly thinks she occupies a God role of some sort, unless there's a reading of this line that claims no ideological relation to her work.
posted by polymodus at 4:49 AM on July 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


Thank you for the post - I'll be following this thread all day, lol!!
posted by Dressed to Kill at 4:51 AM on July 22, 2016


Kanye interrupting her acceptance speech helped his career as much as it did hers and I would not be at all surprised if Team Kanye (probably with Team Swift's blessing) ignited this new spat for the press.

And I call bullshit on the notion that the media is turning against her. As any extremely popular white female singer, at least half the press has fawned over her and the others have shat on her.

All I really know is I don't think her music is great and I'm sick of seeing her face on almost every internet screen I look at. I do not care who she dates or who she feuds with or who she's wearing or who her squad consists of.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:56 AM on July 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


Everyone rises and everyone falls. Everyone feels the lash of the same media that elevated them in the first place. Winners get boring, we need new stories. Taylor Swift, Kanye & the Kardashians will all go through this. They need to plan their redemption.
posted by awfurby at 5:00 AM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]



Everyone rises and everyone falls. Everyone feels the lash of the same media that elevated them in the first place. Winners get boring, we need new stories. Taylor Swift, Kanye & the Kardashians will all go through this. They need to plan their redemption.


This.

Just look at Madonna's career, pop star, feminist, whore, etc.
posted by KaizenSoze at 5:05 AM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Our culture and society feels so much like the culture of late-1800s Russia that Dostoyevsky wrote about in The Demons sometimes. The way all discussions come back to pitched battles over ideological purity and hypocrisy, the muddling up of ideology with social relations and personal identity and self esteem issues it's impossible to sort the tangle out into anything that makes sense or does anything other than inspire a sense of futility and hopelessness. Blech. I'm glad y'all are following these stories so I don't have to.
posted by saulgoodman at 5:09 AM on July 22, 2016 [23 favorites]


Try "a woman can't be seen as ambitious."

Um ...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:10 AM on July 22, 2016


Just look at Madonna's career, pop star, feminist, whore, etc.

Emphasis mine. There's no denying that women get an extra level of vitriolic hatred/contempt. Famous male musicians who've had to deal with their image being damaged by sleeping with people? Coming up empty.
posted by fraula at 5:14 AM on July 22, 2016 [22 favorites]



Just look at Madonna's career, pop star, feminist, whore, etc.

Emphasis mine. There's no denying that women get an extra level of vitriolic hatred/contempt. Famous male musicians who've had to deal with their image being damaged by sleeping with people? Coming up empty.


Completely agree. Though Madonna managed to turn even that to her advantage. She fed on controversy and turned it into money and power. She was very good at playing the game.
posted by KaizenSoze at 5:21 AM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Manufactured pop stars aren't new. Self-manufactured pop stars aren't either but they're definitely rare.
posted by tommasz at 5:25 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


My god, it's full of assholes.

I'm looking forward to the Snapchat expose where we see that Kim called Taylor and checked that it was okay to post the snapchat where Kanye called Taylor and checked that it was okay to use those lyrics.
posted by Bugbread at 5:26 AM on July 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


If retroactive consent were available to more women Taylor Swift would have been able to change her mind after the video came out and said "I said yes when I thought I had enough context to agree, but based on the context now I mean no".

Then the whole lying thing wouldn't have been able to get any play.

I think it's funny how we've gone from an age where super famous artists could argue about the merits or qualities of derivative works, or parodies or likeness and what fair use means to artists talking shit on snapchat. Feels a little cheaper to me.

In this case I see a lot of tension at play between how art gets made and how images are maintained, but damn I wish I could have seen a spat like this between prince and madonna at the height of 80's music video era.
posted by Annika Cicada at 5:29 AM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I mean, I only really skim across the surface of this sort of thing, but I thought that Kim had established herself as a star in her own right

This is not even a rhetorical question- I honestly have no idea. What has Kim created that would establish her as a star in her own right?
posted by Jpfed at 5:37 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Judge the art and not the artist...unless celebrity status means more to you than the art
posted by Postroad at 5:37 AM on July 22, 2016


What has Kim created that would establish her as a star in her own right?

Popularising contouring. And a whole lot of other cosmetics-related stuff.
posted by sukeban at 5:40 AM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm looking forward to the Snapchat expose where we see that Kim called Taylor and checked that it was okay to post the snapchat where Kanye called Taylor and checked that it was okay to use those lyrics.

...to be leaked by Calvin Harris. (The fact that I know this makes me want to bury my head in shame.)
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:42 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


There was always that one mean girl in high school that was so popular that everybody liked her anyway, even the people she bullied (indirectly because she'd never lower herself to scrap in public). And whenever anyone tried to say "Hey, you know Taylor is actually just as bad as the rest of her friends," people would be all "no! She's actually really sweet, just kind of shy" and you figured people were only really saying that because Taylor was six feet tall and skinny and blonde and rich and they really wished they were too. In the meantime, you're like, "she's terrible. Why don't you see how terrible she is?" And no one's paying attention because they just, maybe, might get invited to her birthday party on a boat. That girl.

All of this is to say: 1) Schaudenfreude! 2) I told you so.
posted by thivaia at 5:49 AM on July 22, 2016 [38 favorites]


She needs to be hounded into saying "I disavow" to her white supremacist supporters just as Trump was.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:06 AM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


I certainly hope it's all manufactured, because it's depressing to think that a group of rich, talented, young, healthy, good-looking people don't have anything better to do. If they have to do it as a strategy, that's depressing, but at least you don't have to hate them.

Admittedly, Taylor Swift does not come out of any of this very well given the perpetual dainty-white-lady thing, but I am willing to believe, up to a point, that her performance of her public self is so contoured by the unpleasantness of mainstream American whiteness that she has a limited set of options.

In a way I think it's a shame - you have people who are obviously creative oddballs (Kanye certainly, Kim probably....and at least Taylor Swift is good at what she does) and where in another world they would have great freedom to pursue whatever their visions are, in this world they're stuck commenting and re-commenting on the fact of their celebrity in order to maintain their celebrity, etc.

The whole thing reminds me of that old William Gibson novel about the dystopian future celebrities, Mona Lisa Overdrive, or of those early DFW stories in Girl With Curious Hair where everyone is all taking Xanax in order to survive their public, etc.

I end up thinking that to a great degree it's the public that is responsible because of our insatiable appetite for the tawdry.

But also, channels are blocked - I haven't read the Roxanne Gay thing about celebrities and signalling but I am going to look for it, because I've really been wanting to read something which frames this a bit more. I tend to put it down to an upsurge in mass political engagement and a total shutdown of conventional channels, plus inequality.

People feel that they want to do something, they want things to mean something, and so they look for something that sticks up out of the political landscape. And what? The political system is a nightmare farce. Unions are broken. Left churches are in decline. Black Lives Matter and related projects are ascendant but still not accessible to everyone by any means, and obviously as excellent as they are they don't deal with every problem in the world. And so you look at Rihanna, you look at Beyonce, and if you have revanchist tendencies you look at Taylor Swift.

On the one hand this is super exciting because it allows people who have great mass-appeal creative powers to express the kinds of ideas that were formerly permitted only to the avant-garde - Beyonce can express beliefs that would have been career-enders for pop stars ten or twenty years ago, and that she would have had to keep quiet about, for instance, or risk an Eartha Kitt scenario. So we're getting great mainstream critical work like, of course, Lemonade. It's really exciting to me to see people using the contemporary pop vernacular to express ideas that would have been, like, tiny label/super-indie ideas when I was younger.

I also end up feeling a bit depressed, though, because even the most awesome celebrity can't really do much, and there's always going to be a limit to their critique because of their social/class positions. (For which I don't fault anyone - I mean, if I'm going to get mad about someone's wealth, it will be someone like Henry Kissinger or the Waltons, etc).

I feel like what we're seeing now is a huge disconnect between popular mood and understanding and what is actually being done, and this is possible because channels are blocked. Far more than usual, I think, lots of people are ready for radical change, and I think that gets articulated in popular music....and yet, where does that go?
posted by Frowner at 6:08 AM on July 22, 2016 [21 favorites]


I can't explain how is it that Kim Kardashian has managed to monetize the whole zeitgeist of current celebrity culture so well, but indeed she seems to be the cannier entrepreneur than her husband by a mile, for eg: The Brilliant Business Model Behind Kim Kardashian's $150 Million App

Considering she started her public life as Paris Hilton's assistant, the student has surpassed the master etc etc. Speaking of political platforms, depressing or not, she's probably singlehandedly made the Armenian Genocide a trending topic to talk about.
posted by cendawanita at 6:13 AM on July 22, 2016 [13 favorites]


Are we supposed to be choosing sides in this? Then I'm for whichever one isn't a self-promoting narcissist who feels the need to broadcast their entire lives, and whose supporters aren't rabid hero-worshipping apologists.

If you like Swift's music, like her music. If you like West's music, like his music. If you like Kardashian's persona, like her persona. They all seem very successful at what they do, and I don't get why any of them feel the need to attack others.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:13 AM on July 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


I don't follow this stuff at all, other than enjoying reading the discussions here. But I read three or four of the articles linked in this FPP, and it was exhausting, reminding me of the worst parts of middle school. The utter triviality and solipsism of the back and forths was impressive.

Musically, I like Kanye's music a lot more than Swift's, but I know part of that is the marketing and what the FPP quoted as "brand ambassadors." I do hope that Swift can navigate a pathway forward from her early success that other young women musicians have struggled to manage -- every aspect of it is so much more charged and under scrutiny than it is for their male counterparts.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:15 AM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Calling her a bitch? (Her official objection). If she doesn't hear worse on Twitter every day I'd be surprised.

Ha, right? If a woman takes enough sexist abuse she stops minding, everybody knows that. She definitely doesn't mind any more when it comes from someone she knows than from Internet strangers. How could she? You can't object to something you're used to!
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:15 AM on July 22, 2016 [67 favorites]


He called to tell her about the song, but he explicitly did NOT tell her he was going to call her a bitch.

Then, he called her a bitch.

She got upset at being called a bitch.

Now we all hate her.

I don't get it. Seriously, someone explain.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 6:17 AM on July 22, 2016 [51 favorites]


Jpfed: "This is not even a rhetorical question- I honestly have no idea. What has Kim created that would establish her as a star in her own right?"

Nothing, but she was famous nonetheless. Very similar to Paris Hilton. (I'm actually kinda amazed people have forgotten this)

Here, for example, are the results of Googling MeFi for "Kardashian" from the year 1999 to 2013 (a year before she married Kanye). It's actually about the same number of hits as for "Taylor Swift" for the same period.
posted by Bugbread at 6:19 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Anyway, this entire thing DOES feel manufactured to me (from where I stand, etc).

But do you have the receipts from SnapChat?
posted by ennui.bz at 6:20 AM on July 22, 2016


I don't get it. Seriously, someone explain.

i literally don't know how to treat that request considering the amount of links i've thrown up. without even involving the social themes angle (which is a big part of it), the facts are that she's the one who's been changing her official story a few times. first she's not heard any part of the song, then she's not heard the final copy of the song, then she objects to 'bitch'. that's just shady. how tht feeds back to people's antipathy to her white feminism is where most of that commentary is located.
posted by cendawanita at 6:21 AM on July 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


From Very Smart Brothas, Damon Young on How Taylor Swift is the Most Dangerous Type of White Woman Explained:
No one is better at this type of specifically White female performative faux melodrama — where status is cultivated and maintained through a state of perpetual exaggerated victimhood (which everyone laps up because “sad White woman” = “Let’s find our fucking capes and save her!”) — than she is.

You know that co-worker (let’s call her “Susan”) who somehow managed to use her offense at a minor breach in email etiquette (someone forgot to put an exclamation point on a sentence, which made Susan “interpret” it as a “threat”) as fuel for a raise and a promotion?

Taylor Swift is Darth Susan.

[...]

The stakes here are relatively low. Perhaps there might be some legal involvement because of California privacy laws, but ultimately this involves three unfathomably rich and famous and annoying people who will continue to be unfathomably rich and famous and annoying. But what Taylor did is a form of what Darth Susans have been doing since America’s inception. Using the inherent empathy and benefit of the doubt her White womanhood allows her to possess — plus the reflexive need to protect and preserve the sanctity of said White womanhood at all costs — to throw a Black person under the bus if necessary and convenient.

In 2016, Darth Susans get people fired. In 1916, Darth Susans got people lynched.
posted by palindromic at 6:22 AM on July 22, 2016 [34 favorites]




What has Kim created that would establish her as a star in her own right?

She figured out how to really monetize the fame/gossip machine in her favour. Normally celebrities, famous for some external to the machine achievement, are hounded by the TMZ sorts of media. They're its natural resource. A natural resource might get the occasional payoff, but, for the most part, the media strip mine the resources' fames for their own profit.

Kardashian has figured out, better than anyone, how to reverse that and turn that money flow around. She's the one making the most money off her fame, not Perez Hilton. She's running the fame machine backwards.

She's a PR/Communications genius. She's not easy to understand or pigeon-hole because she's one of the first ones, if not the first, present and lasting in pop culture, who has been able to make a real career out of it, and, importantly, out earn many "real" celebrities doing it.
posted by bonehead at 6:30 AM on July 22, 2016 [35 favorites]


A Timeline of Kanye West and Taylor Swift's Feud Over the "Famous" Lyric

Stop Saying There Are "More Important Things to Worry About" Than the #KimExposedTaylorParty: Whether Taylor knows it or not (and I suspect she knows it), if Kim hadn't released those Snapchats, there's a large portion of America that simply would have continued to take her word over Kanye's and believed that he was harassing her in the media out of spite. We're a country structurally set up to protect whiteness over blackness, and at least one reason 2016 has been the dumpster fire that it has been is because of the way America sees black men — and black people — in general. Blackness is threatening, even if the worst thing it's done to you is jump into your spotlight on a Grammys stage or try to sell you some loose cigarettes on the street. While Kim exposing Taylor isn't going to solve racism in America, she's not distracting from the narrative or "real issues" at all. She managed to say, "Keep my man's name out ya mouth," and highlight our country's macro social problems on a micro scale.
posted by cendawanita at 6:30 AM on July 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


There's obviously a huge racism component to the original Taylor-Kanye thing (especially on the media's part), but at this point we're talking about a woman who's objecting to a famously misogynistic man calling her a bitch in public and now all of sudden the narrative is "stop acting like a victim"? It seems like Taylor's initial reaction wasn't totally truthful, but she still gets to be a victim here; she didn't give him the okay to call her a bitch and Kanye doesn't get why that's not okay because he's an asshole about women.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:31 AM on July 22, 2016 [32 favorites]


Always good to see people explaining how they're way too smart to know anything about this issue but are still willing to explain how everyone in it (who just happen to be almost all non-white-guys) is wrong.
posted by Etrigan at 6:32 AM on July 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


I don't think anyone's defending Kanye's fool misogynist ass, well at least I'm not. As someone said upthread, everyone's an asshole in this one. In this case, one of them finally caught up with the rest on having publicly available video evidence.
posted by cendawanita at 6:33 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Kim Kardashian gets a pass, as she's seen as an adjunct to a male- but to be independently ambitious like Taylor Swift? That's a recipe for being brought down and put in her place.

She was already very publicly ambitious before any association with Kanye. I think the big difference is that she is 100% publicly ambitious. It's all there is to Kim Kardashian's persona. So there is nothing to be betrayed or undermined by naked ambition.
posted by srboisvert at 6:38 AM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


In 2016, Darth Susans get people fired. In 1916, Darth Susans got people lynched.

In the murder to which he refers, and others as well, white men lynched a man and they did not ask women for permission to do it, but it is true that they were every bit as keen to blame women for their own actions as we are today. white men are a natural force like the rushing river water, and white women are to blame for directing or failing to dam their destructive power.

meanwhile, it's not like you can't find actual racist murdering white women to point to, or actual racist demagogue white women, or actual opportunistic racist monsters like Susan Smith. There's no shortage. They aren't even all self-identified feminists, if you can believe that. This is a choice. you portray racist women as smirking simpering manipulators instead of as vile criminals because you want to conscript sexism to do the work of anti-racism, because it's easier. or because you really believe that's the worst a woman can be.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:40 AM on July 22, 2016 [15 favorites]


Taylor Swift has always been the platonic ideal of a mean girl. It's completely transparent if you were ever one yourself, or ran in their milieu; it's astounded me that anyone could see anything else. She's always been a particular kind of monster.

That doesn't make it ok for Kanye West to belittle her accomplishments in an obviously sexist way or engage in the creepiest fucking sexual harassment by proxy campaign that I've ever seen, and it doesn't make it funny that Kim Kardashian -- who speaks Taylor's mean girl language -- provided the strategy to "take her down."

This is fucking gross on all levels, but it's particularly gross to see anyone championing one woman taking down another using every tool of goddamn patriarchy at her disposal.

Seriously fuck this. And fuck the fact that I have to obliquely defend fucking Taylor Swift (who I respect in the exact way that I respect Kim Kardashian, as a profitable master of lady jiujitsu, but still loathe).
posted by schadenfrau at 6:42 AM on July 22, 2016 [33 favorites]


but at this point we're talking about a woman who's objecting to a famously misogynistic man calling her a bitch in public and now all of sudden the narrative is "stop acting like a victim"?

But the point is, all of these people have giant public relations staffs.

It's like [WHAT CELEBRITY ACTUALLY FEELS]>>>>[ASSISTANTS AND PR PEOPLE]>>>>[WHAT GETS MADE PUBLIC]. So anything that does actually make it from the celebrity's innermost self to the public world is far more a chosen thing than what makes it from a mefite's innermost self onto the blue, and therefore it's subject to a political critique. We just don't exactly know whether something that appears to be the reveal of a secret is actually an exposure or whether it's a strategy.

Someone in the Taylor Swift enterprise has decided that returning again and again to awards show stuff is a good strategy, just as someone in the Kanye machine has decided that pretending that Taylor Swift wasn't actually famous when she won a Grammy is a good strategy. Those are political choices - the choices to play on racism and misogyny.

These aren't stupid people, or people who act without calculation - none of them could be where they are if they were stupid or careless. They perform impulsiveness, vanity, etc because "vain, unpredictable, tawdry and thus authentic famous person" is what gets clicks.

It's that which seems sad to me - that smart people who do not have to do this still live in a nest of PR staff and spend their time deciding whether to beat the drum for racism or beat the drum for misogyny.
posted by Frowner at 6:42 AM on July 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


Honestly, the person I've lost the most respect for in this nonsense is Khloe for tweeting that fake Chloe Moretz picture. I liked Khloe.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:42 AM on July 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


She traded for YEARS, with her eyes fully open, on the "poor defenseless white woman brutalized by scary black man" racist trope. YEARS. Through multiple albums, interviews, developments in the "saga." She chose to use her privileges to accumulate the adoration and money that flowered out of this racist root. She's never lifted a finger to direct her tens of millions of fans to take a look at how gross that was.

Karma is a bitch, Taylor.

p.s. She's been a phony since she traded on another artist's fame to get radio play for her very first single.
posted by sallybrown at 6:43 AM on July 22, 2016 [36 favorites]


"it was generally accepted that Swift was a kind, genuine person."
Heh. Mainstream music (not just pop) in general is as genuine as pro wrestling. Pick a persona, get a beef here and there to keep people engaged until Wrestlemania the album release, squash that beef (hopefully with no apartment burning), hit someone with a chair on the back and do an heel turn, and so on.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:45 AM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


And you know what? 1989 was a bland, crappy album that no one will play a decade from now, and the adoration showered on it is a sign of how scared the music industry is of losing the audience and how scared journalists are of losing access.
posted by sallybrown at 6:45 AM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Has she traded on it for years? It comes up every now and then, but rarely because of her doing. Kanye brought it up this time after all. She wrote one song that's pretty deep in her archive about it, and her recent narrative has been all Calvin Harris and her friends. I follow her career pretty closely and I don't see it come up that often.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:49 AM on July 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


She traded for YEARS, with her eyes fully open, on the "poor defenseless white woman brutalized by scary black to use her privileges to accumulate the adoration and money that flowered out of this racist root. She's never lifted a finger to direct her tens of millions of fans to take a look at how gross that was.

Then call her out and attack her for that. Are you seriously arguing that it's ok to launch a successful misogynist fucking campaign against someone because they trade on a different kind of privilege?

I mean what the actual fuck? A racist campaign against an avowed misogynist would be ok, then?
posted by schadenfrau at 6:50 AM on July 22, 2016 [16 favorites]


Are you seriously arguing that it's ok to launch a successful misogynist fucking campaign against someone because they trade on a different kind of privilege?

I said this where?
posted by sallybrown at 6:50 AM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


sallybrown, come on. It's the fairly obvious implication of your next line, "Karma is a bitch, Taylor."
posted by schadenfrau at 6:52 AM on July 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


the callouts have been happening, most strongly around the time when she thought Nicki Minaj was victimizing her, and it's ebbed and flowed, but it's there. The snapchat videos are what the kids call a smoking gun, to all of that pre-July 18th commentary. It is fortunate that it's so centred on such misogynistic tripe, which turns out, was something she agreed to anyway (though the point abt retroactive consent is so noted)
posted by cendawanita at 6:53 AM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


egads, i meant UNfortunate.
posted by cendawanita at 6:54 AM on July 22, 2016


That was neither my intention nor the "obvious implication." Perhaps you're reading into it?
posted by sallybrown at 6:54 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love Taylor and a deeply respect Kanye as both a musician and a media figure (I don't really love his music but I respect it and understand that I don't necessarily need to like something for it to be good).

What is really fascinating by this ongoing media event is this.

There is a Taylor as a person and a TAYLOR media figure.
There is a Kanye as a person and a KANYE media figure.
There is a Kim as a person and a KIM media figure.

What is interesting is that Taylor and TAYLOR and Kanye and KANYE are very similar in that there is an understanding that there is a differentiation between Public and Private but a very real part of the appeal of both artists is that there is a perceived earnestness and authenticity about their public person. When TAYLOR sends gifts to her fans there is a belief that Taylor is the one sending them. When KANYE goes off on a rant there is a belief that Kanye is letting his freak flag fly.

KIM and Kim are a whole different kettle of fish because Kim is largely famous for being a REALITY star so there is a belief that she's being authentic but at the same time it's tongue in cheek and the reality is really Kayfabe to borrow a wrestling term. However there is a wide spread acknowledgement that REALITY is not Reality.

What the beef between KANYE and TAYLOR is essentially is both of them acting out their predestined roles. TAYLOR is the perfect white princess who is essentially good and earnest and kind and nice and needs protection. KANYE is the transgressive black rebel who refuses to bow to the pressures of respectibility politics which tend to dominate the public personas of most black entertainers. TAYLOR and KANYE are perfect foils for each other, kind of Yin and Yang of the music world.

The interesting thing is that to a certain extent Taylor actually is TAYLOR and Kanye is KANYE like they actually have become the roles that they play. KIM/Kim is coming in however and is essentially breaking kayfabe and saying that while KANYE and TAYLOR are having beef with each other the reality is that Kanye and Taylor are if not friends actually pretty respectful of each other as artists. Breaking kayfabe is a very popular thing for some wrestlers to do an Kim doing it here is pretty revolutionary in some ways because it's basically letting the rubes see the reality behind the hyper-reality of public personas.

KIM and KANYE are heel personas at least for most white Americans so dropping kayfabe isn't a dangerous for them because to a certain extent their personas are about being hated. KANYE is popular because it's popular to hate on the brash talented black man. KIM is popular because it's fun to hate on the hyper-sexual Slut character. The reality is that Kim and Kanye aren't KIM and KANYE and letting people know the difference is actually a positive.

The dangerous thing for Taylor is that TAYLOR being essentially a face character can't drop kayfabe like a heel character. Letting people realize that she's got a false face is actually really dangerous because TAYLOR has traditionally been marketed to teens and pre-teens and doing something postmodern is not something most teens and pre-teens will see as a positive. Her character is essentially built around the idea that what you see is what you get. However the long term longevity of that type of media character is somewhat limited so I think you are beginning to see that Taylor is beginning to abandon some elements of TAYLOR.

But KIM's breaking Kayfabe is very abrupt and is probably likely to get some Taylor fans upset.
posted by vuron at 6:57 AM on July 22, 2016 [95 favorites]


She traded for YEARS, with her eyes fully open, on the "poor defenseless white woman brutalized by scary black man" racist trope. YEARS. Through multiple albums, interviews, developments in the "saga." She chose to use her privileges to accumulate the adoration and money that flowered out of this racist root. She's never lifted a finger to direct her tens of millions of fans to take a look at how gross that was.

Karma is a bitch, Taylor.


sallybrown, sorry, no. That's just not credible. Whatever you "meant," this block of text reads as transparently gleeful. I'm not really sure what sort of alternative reading any reasonable person would see there.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:58 AM on July 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


Perhaps you could let it go it you're unable to see a different reading? It's a wee bit overly aggressive at this point.
posted by sallybrown at 6:59 AM on July 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


How Taylor Swift, pop queen, keeps her critics in line (by Eve Barlow, NME mag, back in March)

So, Swift and her people closely guard her image – does it matter? Journalist Dayna Evans reckons her subtle manipulation of ideas about friendship and feminism is dangerous for young fans. “Swift isn’t here to help women – she’s here to make bank. Seeing her on stage cavorting with World Cup winners and supermodels was not a win for feminism, but a win for Taylor Swift. Her plan – to be as famous and as rich as she can possibly be – is working, and by using other women as tools of her self-promotion, she is distilling feminism for her own benefit.”

When I asked Evans why she felt compelled to speak out, she said: “People are in love with Taylor, but they’re not actually reading what she’s saying. There’s no heart in the things she’s talking about. With her it’s like, ‘How can we reach the most people in the most semi-genuine way, while also selling more than ever before?’ So many young girls take it personally and feel they’re on the same level as her. She uses the ­language of hurt, underprivileged young women, but she’s far from being one.”

In December last year, the feminist academic Camille Paglia went even further. Swift “should retire that obnoxious Nazi Barbie ­routine of wheeling out friends and celebrities as performance props”, she wrote, adding: “Her twinkly persona is such a scary flashback to the fascist blondes who ruled the social scene during my youth.”

Patrik Sandberg, editor of the American pop culture magazine V, believes that Swift’s tightly controlled presentation may yet be her undoing: “With Taylor, there’s no fourth wall being broken – it’s so immaculately presented that it’s boring,” he says.


that kim's breaking kayfabe is EXACTLY it, thank you vuron. people have been noting this about Swift for a while. these videos are just a lightning rod, and smoking gun.
posted by cendawanita at 7:01 AM on July 22, 2016 [12 favorites]


You're calling attempts to call out misogynist behavior in a conversation about the intersection of misogyny, media, and racism "a wee bit overly aggressive."

Lovely.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:02 AM on July 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


Seriously guys, if your only purpose in this thread is to just come in and say "Ugh celebrity gossip I'm too sophisticated for that" you are engaging in both threadshitting and self-congratulations.

It's the cultural equivalent of that famous New Yorker cartoon where the cultural aspects that are important to you are rich and detailed and anything that doesn't matter to you can be dismissed as "LOLPLEBSHIT!".

Not cool and frankly Metafilter should be better than that.
posted by vuron at 7:02 AM on July 22, 2016 [16 favorites]


sallybrown: "That was neither my intention nor the "obvious implication." Perhaps you're reading into it?"

You're going to have to help us out, then, because I don't have any horses in this race but I can't really figure out what you meant, either, if not "She was bad and therefore she deserves this." I mean, that's literally how "karma's a bitch" is used in the English language. If you say you meant something different, I believe you, but you might want to actually explain what it is you meant.
posted by Bugbread at 7:03 AM on July 22, 2016 [12 favorites]


Truthfully, none of the celebs involved here come off well. The axiom "all your faves are problematic" comes to mind.
posted by Kitteh at 7:05 AM on July 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


It's a similar sentiment to "when you play with fire, you're going to get burned." When you play with image and racist trope when you're a celebrity, especially in a one-on-one situation and the kind of dynamic vuron references above, one slip that "exposes" something different and the whole image you've built can come crashing down. Has nothing to do with "glee" or "misogynistic smear campaign."
posted by sallybrown at 7:07 AM on July 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: the cultural aspects that are important to you are rich and detailed and anything that doesn't matter to you can be dismissed as "LOLPLEBSHIT!
posted by ent at 7:09 AM on July 22, 2016


that kim's breaking kayfabe is EXACTLY it, thank you vuron. people have been noting this about Swift for a while. these videos are just a lightning rod, and smoking gun.

I think this is the thing that's so weird to me--this was always obvious. Caity Weaver's profile of a Taylor Swift profile on Gawker was maybe the best thing I've seen written about Swift, getting to the frankly terrifying weirdness of her presentation.

I just...yes, she's a terrible mean girl who's found a way to scale her skills and make a gajillion dollars off them. And now she's been "exposed," to the degree that she wasn't already clearly doing it in plain sight, by another mean girl, who's used tools of misogyny to do it. How is this supposed to be better for women than Swift's own commoditization of feminism?

I really don't get the glee. Especially because it doesn't do anything to ameliorate the effects of Swift's racism. Like that's not what anyone's talking about. They're just talking about what a bitch she is.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:10 AM on July 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


i'm not actually a black or poc american, so i can only report the links. but the schadenfreude is strong in the places I run in which are dominated by non-white americans, so i'm going to ... just... report the links.
posted by cendawanita at 7:13 AM on July 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


I actually think that Taylor is at a very interesting crossroads in terms of the TAYLOR persona.

She can actually begin to drop the faux authenticity and actually embrace things like girl power in reality as well as in name. She can actually get a squad of friends that understand and embrace intersectionality. She can transcend pop princess status and become a new Queen Bey for instance.

Or she can retreat back behind her faux authenticity and practice the intense earnestness of someone wholesome and non-threatening and essentially WHITE. Basically be the Ira Glass of the pop music scene.

I actually hope that she goes with the former because I actually like her progression as an artist and think that some deep self-examination would be kind of cool before she drops a new album.

Because honestly when she goes the other side of 30 and is still dropping albums designed to appeal to pre-teens and teens the marketability of that is basically zero. That's what happens to female pop star after female pop star. Once you can no longer masquerade as being a late teen early 20s ingenue you are dropped in favor of the younger model.

It's only the rare female artist that breaks out of the mold that the record industry pushes that actually has longevity post 30. She might be able to transition to acting but thus far her acting ability seems extremely limited.
posted by vuron at 7:14 AM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Like that's not what anyone's talking about. They're just talking about what a bitch she is.

There's actually a number of really interesting thinkpieces linked above. I wonder if this is kind of a breakout moment for large swaths of the target pop market reading about how much work goes into building the image of a celebrity? I guess reality tv has chipped away at that too...
posted by sallybrown at 7:15 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


In re the glee: Perhaps because for once a white woman is losing the political battle to a Black man and this is being named as being about race?

It's unfortunate that things are playing out as they are [in the sense of there being misogyny], but it seems like if you live in an intensely racist and misogynist world, then anyone who is famous and successful is going to have to negotiate racism and misogyny. That is, no one who criticizes Taylor Swift (unless maybe she is criticized by a very famous, very "nice" young white woman?) is going to be criticizing from a position of political innocence.

Vuron is right that kayfabe is key, but also the emotional symbolism of kayfabe.

It's like when I watched "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", a documentary in which we see both the Venezuelan oligarchs plotting how they'll dish out all the money and power after they depose Chavez and a popular uprising that defeats the oligarchs. Chavez was a vexed figure and that's a vexed film, but just once, seeing those shitty, shitty people think that they were going to win again and seeing them lose - that was amazing. Seeing them revealed on film in their shitty, murderous greed and lies so that no one could deny it - I can still feel the force of the pleasure of that film, years and years later.

Maybe it just feels good to see the "nice" white lady not win for once.
posted by Frowner at 7:17 AM on July 22, 2016 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I've never been able to see Taylor Swift as a "nice" white lady. More like a dead-eyed apex predator?

And I appreciate the emotional catharsis of seeing a certain type of villain lose for once. But that really, really, really doesn't mean this is a good thing, and it doesn't mean it's a good thing to be happy about the way she's been attacked. I really have a big problem with cheering for one type of oppression over another. I think in this scenario it just makes both worse. Like who wins when super villains fight by being villainous and thus contribute, as they do when fighting, to the shitty things in the world?
posted by schadenfrau at 7:23 AM on July 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


I mean, I'll answer my own question. White dudes win. Specifically, the white dudes who own the record label to which both Kanye and Taylor are signed.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:25 AM on July 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


But I don't think it's "cheering for one type of oppression over another", necessarily.

Anyone who is literally thinking "yes, Taylor Swift had literally no fame before Kanye West interrupted at the Grammys where she was receiving an award", or "yes, it is totally okay to call women bitches any time in any rhetoric and it is also totally okay to boast about how you could probably have sex with any woman, because those are perfectly okay ways to talk about women" - well, those are bad people.

But I don't think that's where the emotional power is coming from for a lot of people, and I don't think it really translates into celebrating misogyny.

I also think that there's some stuff buried in all this about what relationships should look like - Kim and Kanye are certainly a power couple who support each other; TS is someone whose relationships look very cynical, especially recently. I think what vuron is saying about Kim and Kanye being people-everyone-loves-to-hate-to-love while TS is supposed to be authentic, that's a thing. Kim and Kanye work together; TS performs romance. I think that's very interesting although I'm not sure what to make of it - I think it relates to the way that work/careers/"professionalism" have permeated all aspects of life. Just as their is no wild nature now, there is no leisure. It's all colonized by ideas of making the self work. Kim and Kanye speak to that in a way that TS doesn't.
posted by Frowner at 7:31 AM on July 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


I love Taylor and a deeply respect Kanye as both a musician and a media figure (I don't really love his music but I respect it and understand that I don't necessarily need to like something for it to be good)...

For me, as someone who really has no strong feelings about the music and/or products these celebs create, I have a certain fascination for what is going on as it appears to me to be three amazing masterplayers of the attention economy either having a throwdown or taking their particular feud-game to a new level, either of which is fascinating to watch. I appreciate the deeper breakdown of your comment.
posted by nubs at 7:34 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Tiny quibble, but Schadenfrau, I think you might mean "distributor", not "label". Kanye, I believe, is the owner of the label he puts his stuff out on.
posted by Bugbread at 7:37 AM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


I totally get why people get a Mean Girls Queen Bee persona feel out of Taylor. Basically she and her girl power squad are just like the Queen Bee clique at your high school and their primary job is to make everything that they do look absolutely cool and fabulous.

When they choose to pay attention to you in a positive way it is life affirming and when you are the target of shunning everyone in that clique is supposed to loathe you now.

I can totally see that read of Taylor/TAYLOR but there are also times when I see some glimpses of genuine love and affection between her and some of her friends. Having known a lot of Mean Girls and Queen Bees I also understand that beneath the queen bee shit they can also be real people with real emotions and feelings and even though they seem horrible and mean and fake a lot they can also be remarkably genuine at times. I think Taylor is actually one of those mean girls who is also actually probably nice and is actually adopting a mean girl persona to hide the inner self insecurities.

So the reality is that the construct is actually like nested dolls.

TAYLOR--Taylor--taylor
posted by vuron at 7:41 AM on July 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


Damn, some of you are reallllllly stretching the meaning of "Karma's a bitch".

The concept of karma in popular culture has a bit of an assumption that what you're getting is deserved built right in (ignoring the objectionable language).
posted by Dysk at 7:46 AM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's only the rare female artist that breaks out of the mold that the record industry pushes that actually has longevity post 30.

Had high selling hit albums past age 39:
Madonna
Aretha Franklin
Celine Dion
Barbra Streisand
Whitney Houston
Enya
Tina Turner

Other than Madonna, these women have absolutely powerhouse voices...and I don't know if Taylor has the image genius of Madonna. We shall see.
posted by sallybrown at 7:49 AM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Actually, Whitney doesn't make that cut (sadly).
posted by sallybrown at 7:51 AM on July 22, 2016


Bugbread, oh yeah, I think that's right -- Universal Music Group?

I think someone upthread said what I've been trying to say, only they said it better, and with fewer words: using misogyny to do the work of anti-racism is not something to celebrate. It doesn't actually do anything to address the racism*, but it does stomp on women a little bit more.

*exposing Taylor Swift as a hypocrit doesn't do jack and or shit to expose her as a racist.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:53 AM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Taylor Swift's music is as boring, white, and unobjectionable as she is. It bothers me that so many young people pay so much attention to someone who pushes no boundaries, personally or professionally. Whatever happened to Madonna, Lady Gaga, or hell, even Miley Cyrus? All these artists push our boundaries, even just a little. Taylor Swift is nothing. She's a generic famous person. She will be forgotten.
posted by panama joe at 7:54 AM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


A more cynical outlook is that, in the words of BuzzFeed's Anne Helen Petersen, she was employing "an incredibly savvy image maintenance strategy."

What exactly is wrong with developing a brand and working to maintain it? You think Beyoncé doesn't have a fucking brand? (Note: Not a criticism; I love Beyoncé) You think Alanis Morrisette's Jagged Little Pill schtick was any less produced than her Alanis-at-the-mall schtick?

I'm focusing on women here because it feels a lot like we judge female public figures for the space they create between their public persona and their genuine selves where we would actually give male figures credit for it.

Swift build a musical image around being the hard luck shy girl that the boys ignore despite being almost a perfectly constructed living version of America's Sweetheart. That's pretty transparently a brand. I think even her fans get that. To those now jumping and down now, pointing and yelling "SEE!!!!": Umm, yeah, this wasn't a mystery, least of all to her fans.
posted by dry white toast at 8:02 AM on July 22, 2016 [21 favorites]


Kayfabe is the best analogy, because the only people who think they've discovered something is non-fans shouting "wake up sheeple!"
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:06 AM on July 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


My midnight showing of star trek: beyond is about to start but:

- polar ice caps are melting???? Yikes!
- I think a lot of critiques acknowledges the intentional construction of public image and how her feminism can be harmful and silencing to other women and other minorities.
- honestly, her boring whiteness will save her in the long run, esp if her redemption arc involves good music, see: Justin Bieber; Katy Perry.
- gtg enjoy another cultural product of western hegemony while the ice caps are melting.
posted by cendawanita at 8:06 AM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Kayfabe is the best analogy, because the only people who think they've discovered something is non-fans shouting "wake up sheeple!"

Does anyone else find it really super awesome that freaking professional wrestling lingo seems to be a really insightful approach to understanding contemporary pop culture dynamics?

That's just really really cool and unexpected for me. When I was a kid the WWF fans were the ones who ate paste.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:15 AM on July 22, 2016 [16 favorites]


Someone should really do a KAYFABE analysis of the 2016 election candidates. TRUMP was even in WWF, for cripes sake!
posted by leotrotsky at 8:18 AM on July 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


The discussion about what Taylor has and has not done, and whether that excuses Kanye, seems to have these implications:

(a) If Taylor gave her permission, the lyric is not misogynist

(b) If Taylor is racist, the lyric is not misogynist

With regards to (a), if Taylor gave her permission, fully and knowingly, in order to continue a feud that feeds the publicity machine, she would also be responsible for the misogyny.* But I don't see how this means that the lyric isn't misogynist.

I'm reminded of a MetaFilter discussion from a while ago, about a woman who confronted the manager of a supermarket that was playing misogynist classic rock.** This is the sort of thing that women have to deal with all the time.

You can think that Taylor isn't really worth defending here while still recognizing the cost to other women. Isn't that why misogyny is so bad anyway? It's not just a personal attack, but an attack on all women.

With regards to (b), I don't know enough about Taylor to understand the accusations that she's played into racist tropes. I'm googling this right now. But "Taylor is racist" is an argument not to feel sorry for Taylor, not an argument that the lyric isn't misogynist.

In fact, both of these arguments boil down to this: Don't feel sorry for Taylor. She's playing a game and it backfired on her. But I don't feel sorry for Taylor; I feel sorry for women.

I really like Kanye, but lyrics like this make my feelings about him complicated, and troubled, and I just--I'm tired of admiring men who disrespect women, of having that mental footnote of "he's awesome, but....".

Your fave is problematic is a really personal statement here.

* I think the TAYLOR media construction (using the helpful caps notation) is already misogynist, so there's that.

** I think Kanye is going to have staying power.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:18 AM on July 22, 2016 [24 favorites]


I'm focusing on women here because it feels a lot like we judge female public figures for the space they create between their public persona and their genuine selves where we would actually give male figures credit for it.

Maybe, not sure... I feel like women artists who mostly let their work speak for itself (eg Bjork, PJ Harvey [lately]), and don't play as much into the game of performing their personal lives for the public are less judged in that way. I suspect any men playing that kind of game are sniffed out, too (though I can't think of many who try [maybe Shia LaBeouf ? idk] or are expected to).
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:18 AM on July 22, 2016


Bjork

Bjork's work is often explicitly personal, though. Her latest album had several songs about her break-up with her long-term partner, and she did several interviews where she talked about this.

Is it just that Bjork isn't on social media, etc?
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:21 AM on July 22, 2016


Is it just that Bjork isn't on social media, etc?

Yes, she's speaking to personal issues, but through her art.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:23 AM on July 22, 2016


I think it's worth remembering differences of genre - just like wrestling doesn't work the same as baseball, mainstream popular music doesn't work the same as singer-songwriter and big-but-experimental dance/electronica/whatever-the-hell-Bjork-does.

Both Harvey and Bjork emerged from punk and indie and built fanbases from there. The roles they play are really different from what TS, Kim and Kanye are expected to play.

This is where being an Old is useful, I think - I remember a time when the differences between genres were clearly articulated instead of still existing but being something that nice people didn't mention, as they are now due to changes in music distribution.
posted by Frowner at 8:25 AM on July 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


Her latest album had several songs about her break-up with her long-term partner, and she did several interviews where she talked about this.

Perhaps the difference is the perception of authenticity? For whatever reason (and I don't know enough about media / psychology / whatever else to know), there are some singers whose "confessional" songs come across to the public as more "real" than others. I think Taylor fit this mold initially, but then the confessional aspect appeared to be taken over by the guessing game (with Swift-dropped clues and all) of which famous guy the songs were about. Adele, in contrast, has lots of very personal feeling songs that aren't related to the identity of the subject (could be any romantic partner). Even going way back - if you compare the songs on Tapestry to Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" - that feeling of authenticity is primary for the former and not really an important part of the latter.
posted by sallybrown at 8:27 AM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think this is the thing that's so weird to me--this was always obvious

It's not weird though, because her fanbase is/was girls and nothing is admitted to be obvious to girls the way it is obvious to thinking people. Girls need to have their own dumb drama/sex media fantasies laboriously and earnestly explained to them over and over and over because they are eminently tractable, pliable, manipulable. The whole thing reminds me of nothing so much as the panic over the Twilight phenomenon wherein the spectre of mostly white teenage girls masturbating to problematic cultural productions was elevated to a feminist nightmare of unspeakable proportions. I am sure there are better and more recent comparisons to make but I am an old so I go with what I know.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:31 AM on July 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


At the same time, if TS's fakeness is so literally obvious and her fanbase is so totally aware of it, why is there so much emotional investment in the discovery of its breakdown? I feel like there's a way in which "but of course we know it's all fake, why do you even care" is used to get out of any political meaning for the whole thing.

It's fake, sure, but TS's persona has great symbolic power, and that's real.
posted by Frowner at 8:37 AM on July 22, 2016 [12 favorites]


It's not weird though, because her fanbase is/was girls and nothing is admitted to be obvious to girls the way it is obvious to thinking people. Girls need to have their own dumb drama/sex media fantasies laboriously and earnestly explained to them over and over and over because they are eminently tractable, pliable, manipulable.

No matter how many times I try to read this as written with a generous spirit, I can't. I find this statement really hateful toward young women.

Please explain if I'm getting this all wrong.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 8:40 AM on July 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


"So, disclaimer first: I object to the word 'lying' here — it presumes that all other celebrities are honest and giving us the most authentic versions of themselves. We have a whole podcast about this concept, but the short version is: they are not."

This is news?

I mean, really?

You needed to make a podcast to deconstruct the definition of celebrity in the year 2016?

Did anyone ever think Taylor Swift was "authentic"? And no, I don't loathe her or think she's a "monster," which is apparently the new in thing to performatively "do" about Swift's persona.
posted by blucevalo at 8:43 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I mean, the articles linked in this post are not facile or super-obvious or presumptuous about the intelligence of Swift's fans - they're interesting, thoughtful examinations of various angles of this story. I feel like there's a certain amount of piss-taking of "what the media people are saying about this story" without reading the actual articles linked.
posted by sallybrown at 8:50 AM on July 22, 2016


To answer the questions of " Why this? Why now?" I think we have to look at Taylor's summer adventures.

First you have the emergence of Hiddleswift with a photo that looked like the cover of a Nicholas Sparks novel. The Regina George of Hollywood has now stolen the internet's boyfriend. People find the whole thing so unpalatable, they refuse to believe it's real.

Then came the aggressively curated Fourth of July photos from Taylor's squad. For the first time, in the media, it seemed a bit unpleasant to be her friend.

Not long after this , Taylor lost whatever credit she got from having a normal, adult breakup with Calvin Harris when she (or her people) try to cast her as the victim in a songwriting credit kerfluffle. Calvin Harris publicly has none of it and Twitter hosts a #TaylorSwitftisOverParty. Katy Perry contributed, notably.

Now enter Kim and Kanye. Here again we have Taylor publicly playing the victim, but this time Kim and Kanye have evidence that butter may, in fact, melt in her mouth. After a month of concentrated artifice here is proof, PROOF that Taylor Swift is not as genuine as she protests. She may even lie to protect her brand. Something has finally stuck to the Teflon Blonde.

This seems like a small and stupid victory, but remember that Taylor's career has essentially been one long, musical burn book, trashing John Mayer, Jake Gyllenhal, Harry Styles, and others in her songs and videos. Not mention wielding feminism as a weapon against Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Nicki Minaj, or pretty much any woman who has criticized her. For this to work she always has to be the wronged one, the persecuted. Because of this SnapChat exposure, that persona is null and void. If Taylor Swift is more than just musical mediocrity sold with a damsel in distress narrative, she's going to have to prove it now.

I've been kinda waiting for this public unmasking since I came back from Peace Corps and learned she was a thing. It galled me to see a model beautiful blonde from a rich Connecticut family get away with casting herself as the 21st Century's Janis Ian (I'm referring to the singer, not the character). Others may not admit to being gleeful, but I will. I am full of glee and it has nothing to do with Kim or Kanye.
posted by CatastropheWaitress at 8:52 AM on July 22, 2016 [43 favorites]


trashing John Mayer, Jake Gyllenhal, Harry Styles, and others in her songs and videos.

and not just men - she also used her songs to mock Katy Perry and Camilla Belle (the woman Joe Jonas dated after Taylor), dropping enough hints in the songs and the press so the media could figure out and broadcast who specifically she was slut-shaming ("She's not a saint/And she's not what you think/She's an actress, whoa/She's better known/For the things that she does/On the mattress, whoa").
posted by sallybrown at 8:58 AM on July 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


Show.
Business.

OK, these are hypothetical examples, but my background is in marketing and PR:

Based on your talents and looks, you get represented by various competing, but also elaborately networked talent agencies. Beautiful, young, preppy blond and white like Swift gets you on one path. Someone like Lorde gets a different promotions path. Swift's face sells magazines on grocery shelves the way Lorde's or Jennifer Hudson's doesn't. They're all beautiful, but every magazine, website, billboard, even TV show appearance is highly commoditized and differentiated— and owned by different competing media outfits.

Getting booked on the Today Show is a different career track (and set of connections by your specific agency) than getting booked on Stephen Colbert. An US Magazine cover story is carefully chosen to be about the celebs who are likely to sell magazines in grocery checkouts.

I guess what I'm trying to say is... you and I are not like people on a safari, spotting and observing the behaviors and talents of celebrities out in the wild. For a long time now The Medium IS The Message. You are allowed to see and hear what is deemed marketable, whether it's a positive promotion of a new album, or Paparazzi photos of a devastated actor after a horrible divorce.

Once you get to a Swift-level, you have much more power in controlling that message and your public "face". But that doesn't mean that your media competitor doesn't want to take Swift down a few notches because they have their own version of Taylor Swift 2.0 about to appear on stage.

It's sexist, racist, intrusive, sometimes abusive. It can be unfair in a way that's positive or negative. But it makes some people MegaMillions, and it's an entire huge industry that employs millions, down to truck drivers and janitors.

And there's 10,000 Swift-wanna-bes who are ready to do ANYTHING to get a piece of it, and none of us will ever hear of them.

It's all, every bit of it, Business. Cries of "Sexism" "Racism" hell, even "Domestic abuse" and "Murder" even if 100% completely TRUE, only do one thing: Stir up controversy and create a story for Show Business to show between the advertisements then sell to you.

The only way to take sexism, racism, exploitation etc out of it would be to starve the beast. Attacking it simply makes it stronger.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:03 AM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]



I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex

Why? I made that bitch famous

God damn

I made that bitch famous


This is super gross and says "I have nothing to say as an artist in general". Regardless of the history of their "feud" (a thing little kids have on the playground), what kind of loser sits down to write an album and thinks "Yes, yes. These are brilliant lyrics. This one's a keeper"? Like really, that's the best he's got in him? Weak.
posted by freecellwizard at 9:05 AM on July 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


My prediction:

By 2020, you'll be hearing wedding bells for Taylor Swift and Kanye West.
posted by stannate at 9:07 AM on July 22, 2016


@freecellwizard - I'm no culture maven, but I think the intention there is to subvert the (racist) white woman crying wolf story into one in which Kanye is part of the powermaking *establishment*. (I'm sure there are more considered analyses, eg above)
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:13 AM on July 22, 2016


Swift is somewhat unusual in that the blurring of the lines between internal - private - public personas is ever present within her social media and musical outputs.

My daughter absolutely loves Taylor right now so I'll refer to Blank Space and Shake it Off.

At a surface level they are pretty bland and perhaps overly produced. However there are parts of both songs that talk about both her how her Public self and the media expectations of that influence and shape her private and internal personas.

So when she says I stay up too late, got nothing in my brain
That's what people say mmm, that's what people say mm
I go on too many dates, but I can't make 'em stay
At least that's what people say mmm, that's what people say mmm
she's referring to her Public persona but she's also letting her fans know that when people say such stuff that isn't actually accurate for her private self and to a certain degree that it actually impacts the internal self.

So when she says shake it off she is telling both her audience but also her internal inner critic that she is going to ignore the haters (although it's obvious that they still impact her confidence but that's the impostor syndrome for you).

She let's on to her audience that the public isn't the private in Blank Space with lyrics like

Got a long list of ex-lovers
They'll tell you I'm insane
'Cause you know I love the players
And you love the game


So her list of ex-lovers say that she's insane, frigid, a tease, whatever even though the rest of her stories/songs talk about how she basically wants to be a simple romantic doing private things with her partner. But our culture expects the break-up to be the fault of the woman and she can't really say that Harry Styles is a douchebag or whatever so there is an implication that not only are the media criticizing her but also the Public and Private personas of her former partners.

But she's also saying that privately (or maybe even internally) she's kind of fond of the game of dating and dumping and then spinning the fault to the other party. However this song also is about how this whole insane manchaser persona is a false media construction. So she's saying that even if you are a teenage girl and everyone starts calling you a slut that's not really true.

It's fun to actually peel back the layers of these stories and realizing that she's probably not constructing the layers deliberately (if she is then she needs to be a novelist) but there are all these constructed narratives that we tell ourselves and others that more or less grow organically based upon a series of past decisions and how we rationalize or explain them and how others receive them.

If you really want to go deep you could probably start making conclusions that all of social reality is more or less false and that there is no objective reality once inner and outer landscapes are added in.
posted by vuron at 9:17 AM on July 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


Regarding Swift trashing her ex-boyfriends in song: all artists do this and men don't get in trouble for it. There are so many albums by men who wrote awful things about their exes and those are considered art. Swift's work isn't considered art for some reason I can never understand. It may not be art you like, it may not be super deep, but it is art nonetheless. The song John Mayer wrote about their breakup was way worse than the one she wrote about him. This Kanye song, and the video he released that included a naked body double of Swift, is gross. Straight up. Whether or not she gave permission for either of those things.

Additionally, she acknowledged and apologized for the slut-shaming in Better Than Revenge, which was released on an album 6 years ago and 2 albums previously.

Good on Kim and Kanye for making the recording to protect themselves, but I feel like the recording/lying scandal kind of overshadows the major misogyny problems that also should be considered with both Taylor and Kanye. A lot of people seem to be taking this as an excuse to rip on Taylor for this specific action instead of talking about the larger context they are both in.
posted by possibilityleft at 9:21 AM on July 22, 2016 [35 favorites]


And I just realized, I should clarify, I mean that people are concentrating on the race issue, which is definitely a problem too, and excluding the misogyny angle, which is also having an effect on the way that people perceive this issue.
posted by possibilityleft at 9:27 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Using "Better Than Revenge" at this point just tells me you formed an opinion ages ago and haven't done much about it since. Saying she writes songs "trashing" ex-boyfriends also doesn't really represent her current output. She sings about relationships, often relationships that are over, but there's not nearly as much blame these past two albums. On 1989, there's maybe two songs that arguably trash boyfriends, plus Bad Blood, and Bad Blood was the only "Burn Book" style single. Shake It Off and Blank Space are both songs about media perceptions, Style and Wildest Dreams are both songs about relationships that ended, but without blame, and New Romantics is a song about being a woman in your 20s. She's not the same person who wrote Dear John.

Plus John Mayer totally deserved that, he's garbage.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:31 AM on July 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


I think it gets confusing to conflate the adult media reaction to this stuff with the essentially adolescent reaction of Swift's actual fan base. I confess I look at this through the lens of an adult, and I read queenofbythrnias comment as an acknowledgement that, very often, the loves and enthusiasms of women and girls get explained to them in a way that is fundamentally condescending. And that is gross! (For me the canonical example is the young feminist freak out over Fifty Shades of Grey -- once it became a cultural phenomenon I think there was a valid basis to be concerned about its effect on young people, but before that? When it was just a best selling romance? Fuck no, those readers were adult women who had agency and were perfectly capable of separating fantasy from reality, and the concern trolling there was weird and condescending and paternalistic.)

So, back to Swift -- I think there's a weird tension there, between what's perceptible to adults and what's perceptible to adolescents. Which is part of the reason the emphasis on misogyny is so galling to me. It would be great to actually attack the racism! But that's not what gets play. Misogyny gets play. So, here we are, and young, adolescent fans aren't going to learn to be less racist, they're just gonna dig in against misogynist attacks, and, worst case, conflate the too.

What a gd mess.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:34 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


For this to work she always has to be the wronged one

Except this is the situation where is the wronged one. There's nothing that excuses Kanye West's protracted sexist bullshit aimed at Taylor Swift, no matter what kind of monster she is elsewhere. Celebrating and allowing a sexual harassment campaign against a female public figure doesn't just hurt that public figure.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:40 AM on July 22, 2016 [12 favorites]


Not long after this , Taylor lost whatever credit she got from having a normal, adult breakup with Calvin Harris when she (or her people) try to cast her as the victim in a songwriting credit kerfluffle. Calvin Harris publicly has none of it and Twitter hosts a #TaylorSwitftisOverParty. Katy Perry contributed, notably.

You know, I have no dog in any of these fights, but this one baffled me and pissed me off. So - a woman helped her boyfriend write a song and agreed to forgo songwriting credits. They break up and she decided she actually wants credit for the work she does. She takes credit, her ex-boyfriend whines about it and ... the world takes his side? Did I get that right? Why is it OK to trash a woman for taking credit for work she did, instead of letting a man take credit for it?
posted by lunasol at 9:40 AM on July 22, 2016 [18 favorites]


No matter how many times I try to read this as written with a generous spirit, I can't. I find this statement really hateful toward young women.

Please explain if I'm getting this all wrong.


man this is the first time I have ever been accused of subtlety along with my knee-jerk feminist rhetoric but okay. I stand behind my assertion that people really do think girls -- sure, young women, too, but I am talking about girls here and don't want to get vague about what is a very specific cultural tendency -- are that dumb and that incapable of rudimentary analysis. Do I need to explain that noticing this does not cause it?

The worry is, as it always was, not just that Swift or Stephanie Meyer or whoever else produces an inferior media product with various political implications, but that what is obvious to the culture at large is somehow mysteriously not obvious to its target market: girls. This supposedly justifies all manner of outlandish attacks towards said cultural producers on the grounds that not only are they producing bad work, but they are corrupting the minds of the weakest among us while doing it.

Thus: you have some people criticising Taylor Swift for appealing to a cultural urge to paternalistically protect young white women. BUT ALSO you have some people hating Taylor Swift for leading white girls astray by providing them a bad example. There is not a total overlap between the two groups, but there is some, and to the extent that there is some, there is a deep and hypocritical confusion over the theory that some girls are delicate and bewildered enough to need high-handed protection they did not ask for.

summary of the summary of the summary: boys, men, and some adult women think girls are really fucking dumb. You are right that I am both broad and ungenerous in my attributions of sexism and malicious intent but I maintain that I am correct in that.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:48 AM on July 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


Do I need to explain that noticing this does not cause it?

The way you put it in your comment made it sound like you were in fact making that criticism instead of speaking in the voice of those critics who belittle girls' choices. Thanks for clearing it up.

And now...(looks around)(backs slowly out of comment box)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:01 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I feel like, because of her childish behaviour and young white prettiness, people are inclined to think of Taylor Swift like she's still growing up, like we should automatically forgive her for occasionally behaving offensively the same way we forgive little kids for occasionally pissing themselves. When actually, she's a worldly, accomplished, experienced woman in the latter half of her twenties, not much younger than Kanye was when he said George Bush didn't care about black people -- when nobody thought, "Oh, well, but he's just a baby". She wrote the slut-shaming Better Than Revenge as an adult. She she assembled a massive gang of models and actresses to help her trash another female pop star over some petty bullshit as an adult, and recently. It wasn't a different person who did those things.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:04 AM on July 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


As far race goes Taylor swift needs to get more intersectional.

The implicit "mean black man harassing me" in swifts reaction is gross.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:08 AM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Taylor Swift had literally no fame before Kanye West interrupted at the Grammys where she was receiving an award

Kanye's interruption happened at the 2009 MTV VMA's, not the Grammys.
posted by The Notorious SRD at 10:12 AM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm not really cool with a dude saying "I made you" to any woman, even a mean girl white feminist as problematic as Taylor swift.

That said Taylor swift needs to cut her mean girl white feminist act out stat.

Not sure what to do about the misogyny but it's there, I just don't think at this point it's the correct focus.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:15 AM on July 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


She she assembled a massive gang of models and actresses to help her trash another female pop star over some petty bullshit as an adult, and recently.

Yeah, this is where my relationship with Swift really went to hell. It was one of the pettiest, meanest things I've seen in celebritydom.
posted by lalex at 10:18 AM on July 22, 2016


I'm not really cool with a dude saying "I made you" to any woman, even a mean girl white feminist as problematic as Taylor swift.

There's also the further complication that this is part of a piece of art, not said in a conversation between them talking as people. What does it mean? How do you interpret that? Is it Kanye speaking or "Kanye" and does that make any difference? Might to some people but not to others.
posted by sallybrown at 10:19 AM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think the type of criticism of young women and their enthusiasms that galls me is the type that assumes those young women don't know anything about their own experience. And yet youth is about having little experience. I can't be the only feminist who found that my perceptions and understanding of various cultural works and interpersonal interactions changed as I got older, had seen more.

As with most things, it seems to come back to respect. I think it's possible to engage young women on the potential problems of their enthusiasms from a place of respect for young women. I just don't see it happen very often.

Honestly, I'm mostly just really fucking disheartened to see, yet again, two alternately oppressed and oppressive groups -- black men, white women -- pitched against each other for the ultimate benefit of a system that screws them both. Good job, everybody. Well done.
posted by schadenfrau at 10:20 AM on July 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


Not to belabor this point, but Better Than Revenge was, I believe, written when she was 17 (it came out when she was 21, I think) and she's apologized for it and also clearly grown in her understanding of feminism since. Dragging it up now is disingenuous.

She's not good in her appreciation of race as the thing with Nicki Minaj made clear, but she's a person who's been in the public eye since she was 16 and we all grow tremendously in that time. I'd hate to have stuff I said or thought at 16 or 19 or even 25 brought up every time I did anything.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:20 AM on July 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


She she assembled a massive gang of models and actresses to help her trash another female pop star over some petty bullshit as an adult, and recently.

Is that about Bad Blood or something else? Who is being trashed, and why?
posted by andoatnp at 10:24 AM on July 22, 2016


Is that about Bad Blood or something else? Who is being trashed, and why?

It is about Bad Blood and about trashing Katy Perry. That's literally the purpose of the song and the video.
posted by lalex at 10:24 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think at this point I've said enough about the misogyny angle, it's obviously there but I feel like after reading what feels like 10 thousand tweets from black feminist activists that talking about misogyny is a distraction from the larger racial issues that in this case are more central to the context as this has played out.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:26 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


What? Stand against racism, regardless of who's doing it. Stand against misogyny, regardless of who's doing it. If the context requires you to do both, do both. But don't ask people to accept misogyny (or racism) because it opposes racism (or misogyny). That makes zero sense.

Wasn't there just a huge thread about not asking POC queers to accept the presence of police at their pride parades?
posted by schadenfrau at 10:30 AM on July 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


Well okay then. I guess what I think is that there is historical precedent for white women weaponizing misogyny against black men via benevolent sexism and based on what's said by swift it's...she's made the misogyny element unhelpful to the frame. So I guess if there's a way to explicitly address the racism in how swift leveraged misogyny, then yeah I'm down with misogyny being more central but right now I don't see that happening? I could be totally wrong here. Please tell if I am.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:43 AM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think it's enough to call out racism when you see it. And say it has no place in feminism. I don't think it's necessary or useful to go the step further and tell people not to talk about sexism. Intersectional feminism means we can talk about both, and call out cases of feminists using racist language or tactics.
posted by lunasol at 10:53 AM on July 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


heeeeeeeeeeelllo i am back.

- from my understanding of The Discourse (tm), the focus at present is on the racism angle, because of fresh 'evidence' hence making it actually newsworthy instead of the long-simmering tensions that's been periodically producing thinkpieces critical of Swift's image. It wasn't like black feminists weren't talking about Kanye - just a few short weeks ago, when the Famous mv dropped and became newsworthy, all sorts of people commented, like Franchesca Ramsey on the Nightly Show. So while the point about misogyny is well noted, it's also already been noted, and this post exists by dropping you in the middle of a long-running conversation with this episode focusing on racism and white feminism. PEOPLE ARE AWARE AND RIGHT NOW IT'S TIME TO TALK ABOUT SWIFT now that there's actual video and not just hearsay and speculation based on the performative aspects of her public persona.

- re: tht whole brouhaha with Calvin Harris - as I understand it, I will report to you The Facts (tm):
-- the song was released, the songwriting credit was under a Nils Sjoberg
-- Swift and Harris were still dating and she dutifully promo'd the song on her social media
-- Apparently a throwaway remark was made in an interview where Harris said he doesn't see if they could publicly work together
-- Around the same time he got into an accident
-- After a couple of weeks of quiet, suddenly they announced they broke up and it initially seemed cordial.
-- Quite suddenly it seemed to the public eye, Hiddleswift (as rehashed above) happened. Due to this feeling of suddenness and the quality of the pap photos etc, and also because of their chemistry at the Met Gala in Feb, plenty of gossip of cheating, physically or emotionally.
-- the cordial breakup quickly turned less cordial as various tabs were pitching various 'he's betrayed!' 'she's betrayed!' angles
-- out of this her camp announced tht the songwriting credit was actually hers, and she wrote it under a pseud.
-- He agreed and said there's no problem about this. He complimented also her lyricist skills. He also said he refused to be thrown under the bus 'like Katy'.

- The Gossip (tm)
-- a mutual arrangement for a pseudonymous credit (with backing vocals still present) was broken, when her camp threw the story out, as an effort to reframe the breakup from 'Taylor was cheating on Calvin' to 'Taylor was hurt that Calvin disrespected her cred'.

I generally stopped paying attention, because it was a regular he said/she said. Then this happened.
posted by cendawanita at 10:55 AM on July 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


Nodding. Then I guess my comment would have been better typed as "I don't feel like I am comfortable enough with all the nuance here to discuss both at the same time". Apologies for getting up in the "royal we".
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:55 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


About long running conversations -- ok, but that's not how the public sphere works? Like it's not everyone's job to do this on a fulltime basis. (And even for those who do this professionally, I don't think it's possible to keep up--it seems more like trying to drink from a fire hydrant, every day.) So people will drop in and not be fully caught up on everything, and yet the facts will remain what they are, whenever you get to them.

I think I'm frustrated that this seems like the perfect confluence of events to have a public discussion about the intersectionality of privilege and oppression in these two groups, and that...doesn't appear to be happening. Instead it's about controlling the discourse, implicitly or explicitly, which is an instinct I understand and often share (I think it's human?), but which seems counterproductive.

I don't know. It just feels like history repeating. Black men and white women, uniquely positioned to be fantastic allies, and yet constantly fucking each other up and making everything harder for all marginalized people in the process.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:06 AM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


You know, I have no dog in any of these fights, but this one baffled me and pissed me off. So - a woman helped her boyfriend write a song and agreed to forgo songwriting credits.

The issue is, as I understand it, she opted of song writing credits/ association with song for her won reasons, which was fine. Calvin Harris the, publicly, says they haven't worked together and likely wouldn't in an interview.; I imagine he thinks that he is honoring her request not to be publicly associated with the song.

After they break up, Calvin Harris is suddenly being accused of withholding credit from Swift and this being the cause of their break up, when all he did was fulfill her request. That is my understanding of what occurred.

Before all this, the narrative was that Calvin and Taylor has a mutual breakup. Only after there were rumbling from some corners that Taylor rebounded a touch too quickly, did this discussion of Calvin Harris doing her wrong come up. Harris took to Twitter, essentially to say, "I just did as she asked, why should I get punished for it?"
posted by CatastropheWaitress at 11:06 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


yeah, but at this point this just looks derailing esp to the people who are deep in the middle of it. of course this is all so tiresome to follow, and honestly your concern isn't that misplaced -- only a few short years ago wth Boyzone (tm) etc the conversation would probably be a lot more gross. But I guess... what I'm saying is... keep up, I guess, speaking as a non-white non-american.
posted by cendawanita at 11:08 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I mean, I do my best. It's literally the least I can do, as a white person. (Actually it probably doesn't even rise to the level of "least I can do", but it's definitely necessary.) at some point, though, you run into the practical impossibility of "keeping up" with all conversations that happen every day while you're trying to support yourself. So, you do the best you can.

But I am stuck on the notion that anyone should be asked to accept one evil because it happens to be opposed to another evil at some point in time. I am stuck on the notion that anyone should be asked to accept a thing that makes them less safe because it happens to humiliate someone who has, at other times, been an agent of oppression.

That's not right. And, putting on my ruthless practicality hat, it also won't work to lessen the sum total of evils in the world. I don't have to be a party to misogyny to call out Taylor Swift's opportunistic racism, so...I won't.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:15 AM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't have to be a party to misogyny to call out Taylor Swift's opportunistic racism, so...I won't.

I think tht's fair. I really really hope I've managed to find links and commentary tht does more work about the second half of your statement than serving the first half. If I don't, then that's on me too.

That she's complicit in this specific act of misogyny is worth noting again also.
posted by cendawanita at 11:18 AM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Thanks for doing the lord's work here cendawanita.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:21 AM on July 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


no worries! it's either this or spending time in my 1MDB post, updating links about how my country's establishment is raiding my country dry.
posted by cendawanita at 11:25 AM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Just to add this to the mix: I think you can read the Taylor line in Famous as a comment on the history of cultural appropriation and the spectre of predatory black male sexuality. Like:

"Why would I still feel a connection to Taylor? Why do I always get paired with her even now? It's almost like people are fantasizing about us a sexual pair: her innocent, me attacking her. But that's always the way, white people fear us then steal our culture and now she's a pop star rapping about sick beats and I'm still the bad guy."

Not that I agree with that assessment of the situation but I think that's part of the justification for that line being more than about payback.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:30 AM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also shout out to all the people I've read in this thread and everywhere else online defending Amber Rose's honor both in the video and in the VERY NEXT LINE in that song. :eyeroll:
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:33 AM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


This isn't my fight, but I'll just mention a couple things that have jumped out at me as someone who has no strong opinion on Swift or Kanye, but has family who adore both.

-as I recall, Taylor Swift started her career as a songwriter and performer when she was 15, which is how old I was when I figured out my lunch period would be twice as long if I never went to history class (if you're wondering how I passed the class, I didn't!). Regardless of her background, she's obviously incredibly hardworking and genuinely talented.

-Speaking of hardworking and genuinely talented, Kanye West! Incredibly talented and hardworking. So is Kim! Business genius.

-People have been talking shit about Swift since she started, which was when she was not yet old enough to vote. It's not like this is the first time cracks are showing in her image. She was a running punchline on The Onion for what felt like years.

-Kanye's lines are gross, and they're art and don't need to be censored, but that doesn't somehow make them less gross.

-People have been hating Kanye forever, and the idea that this is somehow not related to his being black is just absurd. Remember when people were all angry about something to do with him and Beck and how disrespectful he was, or something?

Maybe there's no real side to take here? Everyone involved deserves respect for what they've achieved, and at the same time so much of that is undoubtedly tied up with cynical manipulation of the media, just like it always has been with pop music . I'm not going to be like, oh I'm so above all this, but there's something about all of it that just seems like the way people engage with this is not like how they'd engage in other contexts. I don't know, maybe that's just me.
posted by teponaztli at 11:37 AM on July 22, 2016 [15 favorites]


My favorite member of Taylor's squad is Abigail, the civilian best friend who famously ♫gave everything she had to a boy who changed his mind♫ (lol). Because she doesn't have a real entertainment career of her own, she is perfectly free to be the craziest/best attack dog. She posted a really disturbing "prayer" for North West (which she deleted due to attacks but did not apologize for) about misogyny/"bitch". Then, gloriously, some intrepid searcher found evidence of her using the word "bitch" exactly as Kanye used it.

The ugliest reaction was from Joseph Kahn, director of many Swift videos, who tweeted, "Ain't the first time the Kardashians supported the murder of an innocent blonde woman." First of all-- what an outrageous misrepresentation of Robert Kardashian & Kris Jenner's roles in the murder/trial, not to mention the fact that Kim was literally a child during all of that. Secondly, with the amount of control Taylor has over her squad and creative team, she could clearly have this tweet removed if she wanted. Instead, he's dug in his heels and has continued pushing this narrative. Does she agree with this sentiment? Is that truly how she perceives herself? Disturbing.

Speaking of the death of innocent blonde women, though, let's take a moment to remember the life of Taylor Smith, who was sued into oblivion , and the wonderful woman who took her place.
posted by acidic at 11:49 AM on July 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


Genius has a video history.

My thoughts:
(a) I don't really like any of these people. I'm bored by Kardashians, Kanye shoots his mouth off in dumb ways a lot and I suspect he's got some mental issues (plus I am pretty much the antithesis of the dude, so I don't get him and vice versa), and Taylor is a Mean Girl. I don't like the misogynist stuff Kanye says and I don't like mean girls.

(b) That said, I can't help but enjoy having actual proof of her Mean Girl-ness, even though it's been fairly obvious for years.

(c) I don't care if she's ambitious or always curating her image or whatever, but the girl is publicly feuding with a ton of people and it's getting obnoxious. I'm feeling sorry for her exes. She's Nemesis incarnate when it comes to petty mean revenge. She can't let anything go. Maybe for publicity reasons, I don't know, but it's distasteful. I'm sick of nasty revenge songs.

(d) At this point she can't pull off sweet and innocent and victim and needs to stop. Embrace her Mean Girl and just go with it, because it's the hypocrisy that's annoying people. It's the hypocrisy that brings down everyone famous when you think about it, really. Charlie Sheen really never made anyone think he was a good guy, whereas Tiger Woods portrayed himself as having a boring home life. Look at the reactions to those two--Tiger was betraying his image, Charlie was just living up to it and the only thing surprising was how far he was taking it.

Same kind of thing here. Kanye's been being his usual iffy self for years and to be fair, I don't think he's deceitful because he's not that scheme-y or subtle. He's a blurter. Taylor...well, is a schemer and she's been outed as being a Mean Girl beyond anything she can deny very well.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:58 PM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


There is a shockingly poor level of celevirty gossip in this thread. No one has heard the years long rumors that Taylor and Karlie Kloss are a couple and that's the reason for all the fake relationships? Would it make people feel differently about her surrounding herself with young models if she were gay?

I stand by my earlier statement that she's an awful person. She's not the alpha cool girl from high school, she's a try hard wannabe and she's willing to climb over whoever she has to to be "cool" and feel superior. Fair enough she has tried very hard and done very well for herself but she's still a 30 year old woman with no chill, boundaries or problem vilifying any and all comers including lovers, friends and those weaker than her. She's not going to grow old happily at this rate.

Oh and when Calvin Harris got in that accident there was another woman in the car with him. She was reportedly livid. I have spent a lot of time at the dentist this month, I am up on my celebrity gossip!
posted by fshgrl at 1:18 PM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


There is a shockingly poor level of celevirty gossip in this thread

one interesting thing about Taylor is how much she matches up perfectly with Joan Crawford's gossip battles, a lot of overlap, a lot of the same strategies.
posted by The Whelk at 1:46 PM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


I forgot to mention in my last comment that, as with Kanye West and his being black, it's absurd to think that all the hate Taylor Swift gets is totally unrelated to her being a successful female celebrity. Like, the media and everyone else are all just judging her based on her personality alone, because that's typically how young, successful women get treated. So her success is unearned, her good qualities are skin deep, and so on.

She and I have nothing in common, and we are not going to be friends. Like I said, her image is no doubt groomed constantly and she, herself, is probably guilty of the apparently horrible crime of wanting to be really successful.

I don't know, I'm not trying to say she's not a Mean Girl, because I honestly am not familiar enough with her celebrity. But as I said before, I've got a weird taste in my mouth with all this.
posted by teponaztli at 1:49 PM on July 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


Kanye is hella problematic on a whole host of fronts, Taylor is hella problematic on a whole host of fronts. I fully support people choosing to say "look I can't look past the problematic stuff" and going "Nope these are both horrible people and I'm checking the fuck out".

I also think both of them are undeniably at the tippy top of the game in terms of creating an elaborate 21st century media persona.

I definitely think both of them do a whole lot of really shitty things such as the approximately a zillion times that Taylor has shown up her friends at social events including but not limited to friend's weddings. I think that Kanye definitely plays around with misogyny, I honestly don't know if it's ironic misogyny or he's clueless or both but the effect is still misogyny. I think he also has a genuine desire to be the misunderstood protean genius who is cast as the villain. I think he actually falls down on that role but it definitely seems to be a part of his persona. But then sometimes he just uses his persona to just completely cut through all pretense and say truth to power such as when he slammed Dubya about Katrina.

There are definitely parts of both that I think need to be rectified but I'll be honest I still love reading HP Lovecraft even though he was way way way beyond problematic. On the other hand I totally support people going "nope enough is enough".
posted by vuron at 1:54 PM on July 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


Specifically, the white dudes who own the record label to which both Kanye and Taylor are signed

Bit late to respond to this, but in Taylor Swift's case that would actually be Scott Swift, her father. (Yes, he had/has the money, means and business foresight to structure his daughter's finances strategically - setting up and bankrolling her label was just a small part of it. The Swift family was extremely wealthy before Taylor ever became famous - arguably that partially explains her talent. They had the money to nurture her talent, pay for her music tutoring, arrange a move to Nashville, buy/establish a company and employ Nashville bigwigs, etc.)
posted by aielen at 1:57 PM on July 22, 2016


While she is a talented lyricist, really pretty great, and I've heard she's a great performer she's not a talented musician or singer. And while Kanye is a talented musician but he's a pretty terrible rapper and his lyrics are mostly cliche.

In conclusion: this battle could be so much more epic if it was conducted in better songs. But I do think kanye will have the edge historically as Taylor's songs are throwaway pop and his are less so.
posted by fshgrl at 2:12 PM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


As someone who sat up and took notice of a (different) pop artist specifically because I'd heard she deliberately made her touring band an all-women one, I feel like this is noteworthy. From the second link (on buzzfeed):

For a young woman so mindful about the power of friendship, it feels noteworthy that of the 16 acts that have opened for Swift over the North American leg of her last three tours, none have been women. In this, she’s very much alone: All other major female pop acts — Katy, Gaga, Miley — have at least one female opener. As evidenced by the success of Ed Sheeran, a slot in the Taylor Swift opening lineup has the potential to launch a career. But Swift, who loves to do things like surprise fans with Christmas gifts and give them cash for dinner, seems less interested in actual female collaboration and partnership than the appearance thereof.

I'm sorry if anyone has already commented on this, being such a long thread. Buzzfeed is so annoying but they have gold commentary within their garbage clickbait heap. Thanks for the post! I'll be going through the links in my spare moments as I go through work's drudgery.
posted by one teak forest at 2:16 PM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Fair enough she has tried very hard and done very well for herself but she's still a 30 year old woman with no chill, boundaries or problem vilifying any and all comers including lovers, friends and those weaker than her. She's not going to grow old happily at this rate.

I wouldn't worry about seeing her get old. As was pointed out upthread, a lot of the current narrative about her is probably being set up by promoters who want to get her out of the picture in order to bring in the latest hot young sensation.

And years from now, Kanye will still be saying the same shit about a different woman, and the response will be the same: "Oh, but he's a genius! We talked about misogyny already, can't we change the discussion now? To one where the woman's at fault?"
posted by happyroach at 2:39 PM on July 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


That comment about opening acts is wrong, though. Haim opened for her on her last tour, although maybe not every show, I'm not sure.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 3:11 PM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I actually want Taylor to make the transition to post 30 year old pop star because it really doesn't happen very often and even some artists with undeniable talent (Janet, Mariah Carey, Xtina, etc) all have struggled with being successful on the other side of that apparent age divide.

I have absolutely no doubt that the record industry simply chooses to quit promoting a lot of female artists after they reach a certain age and it's quite likely that Swift will have 1-2 more albums before she is effectively written off by a lot of industry executives in the same way that a lot of female actresses are written off after a certain point (ohh she's over 30 time for mom roles).

It takes a rare talent to be able to succeed in that environment. Yes there are artists that have successfully managed it but the most likely role model for Taylor moving forward is the constant reinvention of Madonna. You might not care for Madonna as an artist but as someone who has consistently been able to surf the zeitgeist of modern pop music she's more or less unrivaled.

Even then there are times when all of the good will that Madonna generated over ages and ages of being extremely pro-LGBT I think managed to support her career when she was getting like zero radio airplay because there was a loyal fanbase among the LGBT community that would continue to support her.

While Taylor has made some pro LGBT statements over the years she's been completely overshadowed by Xtina or Katy Perry or Rihanna in this regard so it's going to be interesting to see if she can cultivate a new audience or if her current audience will continue to support her as she matures into a new artist. I feel like 1989 was the attempt to reinvent herself (Red already had a lot of pop elements) and rebrand herself and it's going to be interesting to see if she can maintain it because electropop is a brutal area to try to stay relevant in.

So I totally want her to succeed at breaking the awful ageism and sexism in pop music but I also understand the frustration where people just look at her and she's basically the embodiment of white privilege (at least female white privilege).
posted by vuron at 3:14 PM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is all very interesting to me, because for me personally it makes me experience a feeling of de-realization.

I mean, how do we know this is all real? We know that the people involved are real, that a phone call did happen (although I'm sure that could be argued by someone else), that lyrics were written, a song released, etc. All of that is tangible fact. But who are the actors in this? Can we really be sure that these people, who are capable of manipulating the media through extensive management techniques, are being their "selves"? The OP even quotes someone saying that Taylor Swift employs a "savvy image maintenance strategy". That just sounds like a more advanced way of saying that Taylor Swift & co. are projecting a front and heavily curating an image of what they want the world to believe they are like. They could just as easily manipulate their image and their front-facing personas into something else if they wanted to.

So who is the real Taylor Swift? How can we be so sure that she really is a feminist, or is a sweetheart, or is actually upset at Kim and Kanye? We know that Taylor Swift is a real human being, but exactly who is she? Because right now we have a lot of conflicting information. Doesn't this all sound like a huge psychological operation to make more money for her brand? How do we know Taylor Swift isn't a CIA psyops project? There are just so many questions that haven't been answered, and will probably never be answered.
posted by gucci mane at 3:15 PM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Even then there are times when all of the good will that Madonna generated over ages and ages of being extremely pro-LGBT I think managed to support her career when she was getting like zero radio airplay because there was a loyal fanbase among the LGBT community that would continue to support her.

Thank you for this, I've never thought of Madonna's trajectory this way before. Perhaps Cher also? (Although she has had massive popular hits later in life, there were gaps in between.)
posted by sallybrown at 3:17 PM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


None of this is real. It's great spin and she DGAF- she will eventually get tired of being beat up on (or doing the beating) and write songs for other manufactured blondnesseses.

As she rides her horse Mango around her 300 acre ranch out in the middle of nowhere, she will laugh softly to herself as the money keeps rolling into her bank accounts. Meanwhile, Kimye will have spent all the money they made on bad investments in alligator infested gated moat community time shares in Jupiter Florida, requiring North to come to TS on bended knee for one of her hit songs to restore the family fortune.

She will gracefully assent, and write some bit of pop fluff for them as she prepares to be the 3rd female president. After Hilary does a bang up job, we elect Ruth Bader Ginsberg's animatronic head (which has been preserved as a oracle for future generations. TS is the next logical choice, being the only private citizen left who can afford to run .
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 3:26 PM on July 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


The problem with hyper-real discourse is its undermining of progressive thought. We cannot challenge misogyny, racism, class, and other injustices when hidden, manipulated information creates false choices that we are nevertheless pressured to commit to. Suddenly wondering if this is all just a show is precisely a sign of how far--dehumanizing--things have gone.
posted by polymodus at 3:28 PM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, Kimye will have spent all the money they made on bad investments in alligator infested gated moat community time shares in Jupiter Florida, requiring North to come to TS on bended knee for one of her hit songs to restore the family fortune.

What on earth? You're aware that Kim comes from a lot of money and has earned a stupid amount herself right? What makes you think she'll end up destitute? Because she doesn't look classy? That woman will not go broke. Never gonna happen

Now kanye might spend all his money on crazy outfits but he's a far, far more in demand behind the scenes person than Taylor. It's far more likely to be her camp coming to him for music. She's relied heavily on well known prouducers for tracks since going pop since her song writing is ok for country but not good enough for pop.
posted by fshgrl at 4:19 PM on July 22, 2016 [5 favorites]



In conclusion: this battle could be so much more epic if it was conducted in better songs.

In-fucking-deed
posted by mannequito at 4:28 PM on July 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


KIM and KANYE are heel personas at least for most white Americans so dropping kayfabe isn't a dangerous for them because to a certain extent their personas are about being hated. ... The dangerous thing for Taylor is that TAYLOR being essentially a face character can't drop kayfabe like a heel character.

I think it's more complicated than that because in a different context, KIM and KANYE are face characters and TAYLOR is a heel. This has been all over my favorite podcasts and I've been fascinated by it as a cultural phenomena and a statement on the fraught/complicated relationships between white women and black men and how those relationships are viewed within white and black communities. Both racism and sexism are at play here, but very few other axes; those involved are similarly famous and wealthy, and everyone involved presents as able bodied and minded, straight, and cis.

The inverted point of view from what you said above speaks to the ways white women have leveraged racism to get ahead, something a lot of us are invested in denying as a means of power even while employing it. A similar dynamic has been playing out between Obama and Clinton, bulwarked by the ambient racism and sexism which targets both of them - the same ambient which is surrounding this kerfuffle. In a lot of ways, the lower stakes of KANYE and KIM versus TAYLOR let us shake out all of the complexities of this intersection of race and gender.

I think this is really the beginning of widespread cultural consciousness of the interplay of two axes of discrimination and how they work against and with each other. It's not intersectionality, but it's intersectionality's cousin and I'm glad to see it playing out in popular culture where everyone involved is insulated by money (because when it plays out on twitter it gets ugly, gross, and people are much more at risk).

She can transcend pop princess status and become a new Queen Bey for instance.

I'm not officially a member of the Beyhive but I have to say there is only one Queen Bey and she slays us all with her glory, insight, and compassion. Taylor could be her own famous creation as she ages, but Beyoncé is unique and irreplaceable.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:39 PM on July 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


...I'm glad to see it playing out in popular culture where everyone involved is insulated by money (because when it plays out on twitter it gets ugly, gross, and people are much more at risk).

I think this is the money quote right here in this whole dang thread. They are proxies for us to work some aggrieved shit out online in a way that doesn't put vulnerable people at risk of attack.
posted by Annika Cicada at 4:45 PM on July 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


Queen Bey is indeed replaceable but when she was fronting Destiny's Child was there ever really an understanding that Beyonce would master pop music and media presentation and then decide to actually strip back all that and get real as hell.

Young Beyonce could've easily been yet another young attractive female pop diva and disappeared from the scene almost as rapidly as she ascended to the top but she didn't she was able to transcend the standard pop star narrative and become a phenomenon that extends past her music and social media presence and actually becomes a cultural phenomenon.

Taylor came from a privileged background (much like Beyonce) and it will be interesting to see how she handles her maturation process. Will she be forever frozen in amber or will she start examining her privilege and transcend her current narrative trajectory?

I think she's extremely intelligent and gifted in many ways so even if she's not always the best singer or song writer she can actually probably find a new an unique way to succeed.
posted by vuron at 4:58 PM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


What makes you think she'll end up destitute? Because she doesn't look classy? That woman will not go broke. Never gonna happen.

FFS- it was a bullshit joke about how ridiculous this whole thing is. I rather like all the players- I think they are silly, and don't really reflect the world as is. And where did I say she doesn't look "classy"? And people who had much more money than her have gone that way. Please see many ,many NFL players. And FWIW, I think she's the smarter of the two- he's a mouth with two feet and no sense. Can't you see him being swayed by some other idiot?
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 5:00 PM on July 22, 2016


Okay you pro-wrestling people, question from a guy who doesn't quite remember the terminology:

What do you call it when someone is supposed to be a face but the crowd doesn't get behind them? Like what happened with Roman Reigns some years back? It's not a heel turn, because the person isn't trying to be a heel. They're trying to be a face, but the crowd considers them a heel nonetheless.
posted by Bugbread at 5:19 PM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I would call that a face not getting over, but there might be a more technical term. I think that's a decent way of describing a couple phases of Taylor's career, including the past year or so.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:26 PM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Now kanye might spend all his money on crazy outfits

He kindamaybe did (on making and promoting outfits he hoped other people would want to wear) didn't he? But as long as he sticks with the Kardashians he'll be fine - they make way more money than him anyway.

(I'm pretty sure that one comment was just a slightly incomprehensible joke.)
posted by atoxyl at 5:44 PM on July 22, 2016


What do you call it when someone is supposed to be a face but the crowd doesn't get behind them? Like what happened with Roman Reigns some years back?

(still 100% happening today, btw)

There isn't really a term for it, because it's never been allowed to fester for so long. Ric Flair had times when he was being cheered despite his heeldom, but back then most of the crowd went along with the booing as a sign of respect. Later, Rocky Maivia got a smaller but similar push to Reigns', and when the crowd turned on him, the WWF just let him go heel.

Then came John Cena and the end of kayfabe. When he started getting booed by the smarks, WWE just refused to acknowledge it for a long time. Eventually, the announcers admitted that he was "divisive."

So maybe it should be called Cena-ing (if you're still selling out arenas and millions of T-shirts) or Reigning (if you're... not).
posted by Etrigan at 6:03 PM on July 22, 2016


FFS- it was a bullshit joke about how ridiculous this whole thing is. I rather like all the players- I think they are silly, and don't really reflect the world as is. And where did I say she doesn't look "classy"? And people who had much more money than her have gone that way. Please see many ,many NFL players. And FWIW, I think she's the smarter of the two- he's a mouth with two feet and no sense. Can't you see him being swayed by some other idiot?

Wow. The reference to NFL players going broke. Asserting that Kanye is dumb. Perhaps you should check in with reality a bit and figure out how and why your worldview got so far off the beam.
posted by rdr at 7:14 PM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


War.
posted by h00py at 8:24 PM on July 22, 2016


I think she's extremely intelligent and gifted in many ways so even if she's not always the best singer or song writer she can actually probably find a new an unique way to succeed.

I think the singer Taylor Swift most resembles is the (former?) K Records recording artist Mirah, at least as I remember her from Cold Cold Water, C'mon Miracle, and Songs from the Black Mountain Music Project: she has a really thin, weak voice that works great for some types of songs ("Tim McGraw" bzw. "Pure") but really just don't for the big pop-style numbers (like "Cold Cold Water" for Mirah; Swift has the advantage of more studio stuff for the albums and lots of backup for the big choruses live).

You might think that this is a totally tangential comment, but why not think with me for a wee spell about a world in which K Records really took off, riding the coattails of unlikely megastar Mirah?
posted by kenko at 8:53 PM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


(It does come through in this performance of "Red" on SNL.)
posted by kenko at 8:54 PM on July 22, 2016


Man, only halfway down the thread after a coworker recommended I give it a read, and it's so weird to see so many MeFites using Swift, West and Kardashian as pegs for narrative that's fundamentally inaccessible — it's like the fundamental attribution error writ large, and from a fair number of folks I expect better from.

There's really no way for the vast majority of us to actually know what happened or how much is authentic or what Taylor Swift's actual intentions and personality is. It's buying into the myth that you know her, and the outcome is the same as the bizarre fantasia you see from some members in AskMe answers, where questions are used as writing prompts for whatever meaning the answerer wants to ascribe to someone else's relationship.

The fake authority with which Swift is declared a "mean girl" or "fascist;" the battered birdie of misogyny and racism readings — it's all disappointing to see people describe it as what is, rather than how it looks to them. Maybe it's just a primed reaction from the links — almost all of which go even further in turning Swift et al. into fictionally coherent narratives — and the fun of seeing secret portents, the pareidolia that makes astrology so compelling.

But it's weird to see people confuse familiarity with insight, and to get drawn into the quasi-academic exegesis of celebrity semantics without acknowledging that basically none of us have any firsthand knowledge of any of this, and that with people whose job it is to manufacture media narratives, trying to discern what's "real" is a mug's game.
posted by klangklangston at 9:07 PM on July 22, 2016 [15 favorites]


There's really no way for the vast majority of us to actually know what happened or how much is authentic or what Taylor Swift's actual intentions and personality is.

That's why so many of us are using the all caps encoding to indicate we're engaging with their public personas, not their private personalities. We will most likely never know any of them personally, but we can analyze and interpret their public behavior as a lens through which to analyze how our culture engages with race and gender, in particular when the two of them are placed at cross purposes.
posted by Deoridhe at 9:48 PM on July 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


klangklangston: "There's really no way for the vast majority of us to actually know what happened or how much is authentic or what Taylor Swift's actual intentions and personality is."

We've reached the point where "ironic racism" is looked down on just like racism is, where "ironic misogyny" is looked down on just like misogyny is. So if Taylor is actually just manipulating things to create a cultivated but inauthentic mask of racism, then...so what? If Kanye is actually just manipulating things to create a cultivated but inauthentic mask of misogyny, then...so what? It still sucks either way, so who cares whether it's meticulously crafted racism/misogyny or from-the-heart racism/misogyny?

Maybe Dave Sim isn't really misogynist, but is just trolling. Maybe Trump isn't really racist, just a performance artist. How does that materially change anything?
posted by Bugbread at 9:57 PM on July 22, 2016 [15 favorites]


Just look at Madonna's career, pop star, feminist, whore, etc.

I don't care about Kim, Kanye or Taylor, but the whole labelling of Madonna as a whore really grinds my gears. I was a fan when she became popular (although I still resent her for destroying Cyndi Lauper) but labelling her a whore is offensive and ugly.

The double standard that exists between men and women is uncalled for. I'd call Mick Jagger a whore as soon as I'd call Madonna a whore. First, who even cares, second, not your business, third, feminism means holding women and men to the same standards. Either Mick Jagger (or any other male celeb who sleeps with multiple women) is also a whore or Madonna isn't. Grrr.
posted by bendy at 12:16 AM on July 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't love the choice of words in calling Madonna a "whore", but she did play with sex-worker imagery in some of her more openly sex-positive media (the "Justify My Love" video, the Sex book, etc). I'm using the phrase sex work here to refer to prostitution, and there were specific references to sex work in both of those media.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:58 AM on July 23, 2016


Taylor Swift's problem here is that she's chosen a public persona that's too far away from her real personality. She presents an image of girly solidarity and the importance of friendship (feminism-lite) when she's not really interested in either. She works just as hard at her image as Kim K does, cares just as much about the money, but she has to pretend she doesn't. It puts her at a disadvantage. I couldn't care less about Kanye compared to the manoeuvring these two women have done.

I loved the piece from The Ringer linked in the FPP analysing the highly-edited video of the Kanye/Swift phone call. It's calculated not just to prove that he did the right thing by giving Swift a heads-up, but also that she cares *deeply* about exposure and page-views. So not only is Kim K smacking her down for deceiving them, she's undermining the foundation of Swift's image of spontaneously following your heart. She timed it for when the press was getting tired of maintaining the facade, and then the breakup with whatsisface just became the cherry on top. It's pretty brutal, but I admire her self-control. If my guy had been used that way and I could prove it, I don't think I could wait until conditions were perfect. Swift had to come up with a whole new schedule for Hiddleston in order to distract from the mess, which I think under normal circumstances she would have tried to keep private for a bit longer. It'll probably work for the Minivan majority, and I figure that's ok because we all get our entertainment in different ways.

Swift's use of feminism as a prop was already pissing me off. I shouldn't have been surprised by her making use of racism here too, but I was. It's the same process - leverage whatever will work in your favour, act wide-eyed and innocent when sprung. I was particularly put off by her backhanded statement about Kim K which implied she was too stupid and cowed to do anything without Kanye's approval, so it's not her fault. As if anyone would believe that about Kim K. If you look at Swift's actions and ignore what she says, her politics really are retrograde.
posted by harriet vane at 5:04 AM on July 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


klangklangston: "There's really no way for the vast majority of us to actually know what happened or how much is authentic or what Taylor Swift's actual intentions and personality is."

I think people understand this more than you give them credit for.

They are myths, they are proxies, they are shibboleths. People don't have to explicitly know that celebrity=myth in order to "do their work" but I believe it helps to find a deeper understanding of you do.

People have a different ways they work out the complicated fault lines in our culture and society and that's okay. Celebrities exist for a reason. They are our masks.
posted by Annika Cicada at 5:21 AM on July 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


My level of expertise about all of these people is this: I don't follow them on Twitter or Instagram or whatever it is they use, but Facebook will occasionally assume I am interested in something one of them has made public via some social media account. That plus whatever my dentist office has in their tabloid section.

All of this knowledge leads me to highly uninformed opinions about all of these people's personas, which leads me to a question and a statement.

Question: is it reasonable to assume that their social media barfing is not actually done by them but instead by Jake and DeeDee who work in the PR departments of their very-soon-to-die record labels? Or are Ms. Swift, Mr. West, Mr. Harris, etc. actually holding phones and tweeting this shit without their handlers?

Important derailing statement: Chrissy Teigen's tweets are hilarious.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:21 AM on July 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I imagine it's like entourage, where a very worked up Ari is maniacally screaming and laughing into a cell phone at Taylor while his gorgeous wife and beautiful twins sadly look on over a cold dinner, but that's just me.
posted by Annika Cicada at 5:26 AM on July 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Re: socmedia usage: it does depend, and subject to confirmation (Adele doesn't post herself); and the imperfect heuristics savvier users have, it's generally assumed that the celebs tweet themselves. Kanye is famously his own, and so is Kim (her brand of reality demands it, it promises drama). But Kim's awareness of her brand is like Taylor (who also makes her own posts), so I imagine it's done with an eye of being on-message at all times. Which is probably one small factor why ppl began to chafe at the level of curation, but that's because like harriet vane says, her image is that of earnestness and authenticity.
posted by cendawanita at 5:57 AM on July 23, 2016


I guess I might as well link Kim's GQ cover article that reignited all of this. (NSFW spreads) It does give you a (highly manicured) glimpse into her schedule. It was already making the rounds independently on the strength of its writing, which was the sort of fizzy, enjoyable, pseudo-deep entertainment writing that, probably because it was not written by a cishet man, didn't preoccupy itself with slaving over her cleavage (eg poor Margot Robbie).
posted by cendawanita at 6:03 AM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


God bless the edit window for dumb mobile users...
posted by cendawanita at 6:05 AM on July 23, 2016


It was already making the rounds independently on the strength of its writing, which was the sort of fizzy, enjoyable, pseudo-deep entertainment writing that, probably because it was not written by a cishet man, didn't preoccupy itself with slaving over her cleavage (eg poor Margot Robbie).

Caity Weaver, the author, is a GREAT and hilarious writer. Keep an eye out for her. She came from Gawker, where she wrote the article about braving the all-you-can-eat mozzarella sticks special at TGI Fridays.
posted by sallybrown at 10:26 AM on July 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


There's really no way for the vast majority of us to actually know what happened or how much is authentic or what Taylor Swift's actual intentions and personality is. It's buying into the myth that you know her, and the outcome is the same as the bizarre fantasia you see from some members in AskMe answers, where questions are used as writing prompts for whatever meaning the answerer wants to ascribe to someone else's relationship.

true, you can never really know a person (how well do you know your boss, your barrister, your co-worker, etc etc)... but you can still make reasonable inferences based on demonstrated behavior, words and actions. Also for those who are familiar with or have worked in the industry - all this stuff about Taylor (her tightly-controlled public image to the point of vindictiveness in some cases, the hypocrisy - saying one thing in public and doing another behind the scenes etc, the control of the media (anyone noticed how certain news articles changed their headlines after certain articles had been published? I think Instagram's lightning quick, Taylor-specific "protection" has been mentioned here)) has been fairly common knowledge for some years now. Many people knew (or were affected/victims) but would never have dared to go on record saying anything about her. (Her legal team is extremely formidable, and the Taylor empire wields tremendous power - not just in its neutered, tame, Taylor-is-your-best-friend-who-does-charity-work public form, but also in a more cutthroat form behind the scenes.)
posted by aielen at 10:39 AM on July 23, 2016


Also, to add - it isn't about poor beautiful helpless Taylor being picked on because she's a woman in a man's industry, either. There are other female celebrities/musicians who do not deal to the extent she does, and who are still successful as women performers/creators/businesswomen in the industry.

The Harris credit attribution issue was spun into a "female taking credit for her work done under a male's name" story - when really it was a case of Swift acting unprofessionally and deceitfully. There are very good female songwriters out there (Ester Dean, Julia Michaels, etc - many more) and they are not denied credits. (Although you could say that songwriting work in itself tends to be divided according to gender, with most topliners being female and most of the production work / "soundbed" creation being done by males (and that was also the division of labor in the case of the Swift-Harris song, actually) - but that's another issue.) (Also, Taylor Swift sits at the top of the hierarchy of female songwriters - if she wants a credit, she gets it.)

The Swift-Harris track was a co-write - meaning both wrote the song and were both credited as writers from the beginning (both under their chosen pseudonyms). Both Swift and Harris were always receiving royalties and financial proceeds from the track, from the beginning. Swift was receiving her share under the pseudonym, which she herself suggested. The pseudonym was her proposal, in order to market the song a specific way. This is not uncommon in the industry - plenty of writers choose to write (and receive royalties) under pseudonyms from time to time. Then after the track was released, Swift's camp went to the media and made it seem as if Harris was "wrongfully" taking credit for her work, when it was Swift's suggestion that she be credited under a pseudonym, and when the track had always been a co-write. This wasn't about money (both parties had always received royalties and their due financial proceeds from the beginning); this was about deliberately creating a false impression to the media to tarnish Harris' professional reputation and boost Swift's narrative of being an underprivileged woman taken advantage of by men, capitalizing on the public's general ignorance of how credits/royalties/etc work.
posted by aielen at 10:40 AM on July 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


She figured out how to really monetize the fame/gossip machine in her favour.

People keep saying this, but isn't it her mom[ager] Kris Jenner who should be getting the credit for the success for all the Kardashian/Jenner children?
posted by Room 641-A at 7:43 AM on July 24, 2016


"We will most likely never know any of them personally, but we can analyze and interpret their public behavior as a lens through which to analyze how our culture engages with race and gender, in particular when the two of them are placed at cross purposes."

Right, but even then, plenty of folks in the thread are attaching narrative reads that pretend this isn't a subjective exercise in itself, and have a kind of weird view of how actual celeb PR and media function. It assumes a weight and meaning that's reflecting an entirely subjective experience of other people's media narratives — it's essentially headcannon fanfic run through a lit theory filter.

"We've reached the point where "ironic racism" is looked down on just like racism is, where "ironic misogyny" is looked down on just like misogyny is. So if Taylor is actually just manipulating things to create a cultivated but inauthentic mask of racism, then...so what? If Kanye is actually just manipulating things to create a cultivated but inauthentic mask of misogyny, then...so what? It still sucks either way, so who cares whether it's meticulously crafted racism/misogyny or from-the-heart racism/misogyny?"

That's still falling into the trap of assuming intentionality that can't be demonstrated.

"I think people understand this more than you give them credit for.

The first line of the comment directly preceding yours: "Taylor Swift's problem here is that she's chosen a public persona that's too far away from her real personality."

If they understand this, they are not demonstrating that.
posted by klangklangston at 2:42 PM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Then after the track was released, Swift's camp went to the media and made it seem as if Harris was "wrongfully" taking credit for her work, when it was Swift's suggestion that she be credited under a pseudonym, and when the track had always been a co-write. This wasn't about money (both parties had always received royalties and their due financial proceeds from the beginning); this was about deliberately creating a false impression to the media to tarnish Harris' professional reputation and boost Swift's narrative of being an underprivileged woman taken advantage of by men, capitalizing on the public's general ignorance of how credits/royalties/etc work.

Or if you're not wedded to the idea that Taylor Swift is secretly an angry, evil monster or if you're not a fan of a typical wounded exboyfriend with a fragile ego who is hurt about getting dumped, here's an alternative theory:

Fans believed that Taylor Swift had written it under a pseudonym already and it kept coming up over and over again. News media--always asking about it. That song was the only one on sale through Swift's website, so people were already suspicious. Someone in the business credited her on Twitter before deleting it. So she finally confirmed it, which helped sales because it has been out forever now. And because his masculinity is so fragile/deejay ego is so fragile, he acted like a huge jerk about it.

Calvin Harris (who admitted to picking his name so people would think he was black) was just being an asshole because Swift broke up with him. His camp finally admitted she wrote the melody too. He's got a fragile ego. And he gets to get away with acting like a huge asshole. To her credit, unlike Harris did to Rita Ora, Swift is not blocking him from performing it.
posted by discopolo at 4:42 PM on July 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Right, but even then, plenty of folks in the thread are attaching narrative reads that pretend this isn't a subjective exercise in itself, and have a kind of weird view of how actual celeb PR and media function. It assumes a weight and meaning that's reflecting an entirely subjective experience of other people's media narratives — it's essentially headcannon fanfic run through a lit theory filter.

I just go with that "what people ascribe to others is a reflection of themselves" kind of thing. There's a real foaming at the mouth hatred of her, and a real need to dehumanize her so the person who has never met her yet needs to believe she's horrible and has an evil, twisted soul can demonstrate something about themselves---whatever it is, I can't figure out.
posted by discopolo at 5:04 PM on July 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Tried to find a useful timeline over tht Calvin Harris business, and I suppose this will serve. Pre-Kim K and clearly shading Harris, but even then the read honestly can go either way. It depends also how much you're a geek abt this bit of songwriting to contextualise the beef also I think.

A lot of the hyperbolic reaction has tipped into and feeds back into the general public contempt people can have about publicly facing women, but let's not also dismiss genuine grievances. If some of tht seems uncomfortable, it reminds me of how the kind of posts I'd see on tumblr tht reminds people tht just because a post 'hates' white people or men, it doesn't mean all and it's an inter-community venting abt a systemic thing. The problem is when it becomes aspects of poc anti-blackness or white feminism, the axes of oppression and privilege are both at play at the same time. And in cases of such minority expression... It reminds me of my own community's wrangling over the issue of the hijab. Whichever side it is, as long as it exists in the view of western supremacy, will somehow feeds back into islamophobia via some dimension or another.
posted by cendawanita at 6:10 PM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Or if you're not wedded to the idea that Taylor Swift is secretly an angry, evil monster or if you're not a fan of a typical wounded exboyfriend with a fragile ego who is hurt about getting dumped, here's an alternative theory

I don't think my comment on royalties/credits that you're referring to posited that Taylor is simply an "angry, evil monster" or that I'm a "fan of a typical wounded exboyfriend with a fragile ego..." etc. I was commenting as someone who has worked in this area, and who also knows others in the industry, etc. I'm not sure who or what your sources/references/background are on this, but that's a pretty implicitly uncharitable reading of what I was trying to explain in my comment.

"His camp finally admitted she wrote the melody too" - I don't think his camp denied this, when he began acknowledging she was Nils Sjoberg (her pseudonym).
Look. I myself said that she wrote the melody as well, in my original comment. (keyword: topliner. Perhaps I should have explained more clearly what a topliner is, though.) If you refer to the ASCAP (representing Harris), BMI (representing Swift), etc contracts, it states very clearly that the song was a co-write. Harris wrote the music, and as mentioned earlier, Taylor was the topliner (lyrics, melody but not music/"soundbed"). Both credited as writers. Harris also produced and arranged the track and is listed as the sole producer but producers are not technically credited as writers (i.e. they don't get songwriting royalties). This is all down on paper, and contractually agreed on, etc. I am hoping that if you were able to comment on what I said, you understand these pretty basic roles and protocol involved in making, crediting and earning $ off a track.

Calvin Harris (who admitted to picking his name so people would think he was black) was just being an asshole because Swift broke up with him.... He's got a fragile ego. And he gets to get away with acting like a huge asshole.

These are, as I understand, all of Harris' tweets on the matter:
"And she sings on a little bit of it too...Amazing lyric writer and she smashed it as usual. I wrote the music, produced the song, arranged it and cut the vocals though. And initially she wanted it kept secret, hence the pseudonym. Hurtful to me at this point that her and her team would go so far out of their way to try and make ME look bad at this stage though. I figure if you’re happy in your new relationship you should focus on that instead of trying to tear your ex bf down for something to do. I know you’re off tour and you need someone new to try and bury like Katy ETC but I’m not that guy, sorry. I won’t allow it. Please focus on the positive aspects of YOUR life because you've earned a great one"

Regardless of how one generally feels about Harris, in this case it seems reasonable that he would attempt to clarify his and her role in the song, after the Swift team went against the original agreement and misrepresented his role/intentions to the media. (i.e. Harris does the radio interview, follows the agreement, says he can't see himself working with Swift etc to stick to the original narrative agreed on by both parties, then the Swift team explicitly states to the media that Swift wrote the track under the pseudonym.) Taylor Swift's lyrical fingerprints can definitely be heard all over the song even without reading the writing credits, but it would be grossly underestimating the power and strategy of PR teams to say that Swift's team was compelled to explicitly confirm her role in the song (and in that particular manner of confirmation) because of fans and the media asking about it. (does anyone definitely know who "You're So Vain" is about, still?)

unlike Harris did to Rita Ora, Swift is not blocking him from performing it.
You can speculate on Swift's (and her team's) motives for this, but I think it's also valuable to consider: The main performer of the track is Rihanna. From a PR perspective (especially with the current murmurs/perception among the public that Swift is a white "feminist" who does not appreciate intersectionality and will not go to bat for black females), it would not look good if Taylor the rich white woman blocked Rihanna the black woman from performing a track.

I think Taylor Swift (and the Swift family, and the Swift empire) is extremely business-savvy and intelligent. She has very good songwriting craft in terms of writing lyrics. (Coming from the Nashville structure, this is not at all surprising.) She's also definitely not the first female musician ever to act unprofessionally or underhandedly. I understand Taylor Swift has built a very strong brand that appeals to many, and that it can be disheartening to hear that perhaps her public-facing brand may not actually reflect on how she acts, and who she may actually be as a person behind the scenes. No one wants to believe their idol isn't what he/she seems, and often the first impulse for a fan is to defend the artist/musician/celebrity in question.

The gist of my personal standpoint, as a female PoC (and just to clarify: I'm not claiming to speak for all female PoCs): I don't appreciate Swift's brand of feminism or the messages mixed into her music. At the same time, I admire her craft in lyric-writing, and acknowledge her tremendous business and PR instincts. There is much to learn from how she and her family have systematically established their business and empire.
posted by aielen at 6:10 PM on July 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


discopolo: "a real need to dehumanize her so the person who has never met her yet needs to believe she's horrible and has an evil, twisted soul can demonstrate something about themselves---whatever it is, I can't figure out."

It really depends where the person commenting is. On some sites "I hate Taylor Swift" means "I hate women" and "I hate Kanye West" means "I hate blacks." On some sites "I hate Taylor Swift" means "I think hip-hop is better than pop" and "I hate Kanye West" means "I think pop is better than hip-hop." On MetaFilter, for the most part, "I hate Taylor Swift" means "I hate racism" and "I hate Kanye West" means "I hate misogyny." "I hate both" generally means either "I have superior aesthetic tastes than people who like popular music," "I hate media manipulators," or "I hate both racism and misogyny."

I'm not sure what "I like them both" means, because it's an opinion which is so rarely expressed. The people who refuse to take a side usually do so by going with "I hate both," not "I like both."
posted by Bugbread at 6:31 PM on July 24, 2016


As someone who can say truthfully that I do like both of them (when they're not hanging their ass out in public as a result of their known flaws - West's sexism/misogyny and Swift's racism), what it means to me is that as far as I can tell, they're both master media manipulators playing some kind of weird nth dimensional chess game with their public personas, and I wouldn't be surprised if Kim's leak was something all three of them were in on. I wish they had picked a less fraught moment in history to touch off this latest episode, because it's causing it to intersect with a lot of real hurt and pain that's bubbling hard at the surface this summer. In a different season, however, I would happily enjoy the show - I love a good court intrigue.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 6:45 PM on July 24, 2016


I'd say I like them both mostly to mean that I like their music, I like hearing what Kanye has to say about race, and I like Taylor's media persona, even if I recognize that it's manufactured.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:48 PM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Taylor Swift given right by Instagram to censor online abuse:
[...] Now it seems Taylor Swift has been handed a secret weapon even other celebrities can only dream about: the power to shape the comments about her on her social media profile.

In an unprecedented move, the photo-sharing site Instagram has quietly handed the American singer a unique “tool” that enables her to remove only negative or abusive comments made in response to images she has posted.

It means that rather than having to individually delete hundreds or thousands of comments, as any other user would have to, Swift — or whoever is controlling her account — is able to remove them en masse almost instantaneously.

Swift, who is the second-most popular celebrity on the photo-sharing site with more than 86 million followers, deployed the new measure last week after being bombarded with hundreds of angry comments over her continuing row with fellow social media star Kim Kardashian.

[...]It is understood the measure, or a variant of it, may eventually be [emphasis mine] introduced for other users with high volumes of comments.


maybe relevant blind gossip item.
posted by cendawanita at 12:06 AM on July 25, 2016




If they understand this, they are not demonstrating that.

I'm well aware that I can't know for certain what happens in the lives of celebrities, because I'm well aware that I can't be certain of the real thoughts and feelings of anyone except myself, and my panopticon device is still on backorder. But I've dealt with this problem my whole life by judging people based on their actions, not their words. This isn't perfectly accurate but has served me reasonably well over the years, and I'm okay with being wrong sometimes.

I'm speculating on the source of Swift's assumed problems, not declaring that I have unique understanding. I compared her Girl Next Door public brand or persona (which isn't under question) to the actions which either took place in public e.g. statements at the Grammys, or were recorded, e.g. her phone call with Kanye, her pseudonymous writing credits with dates and revisions, her business decisions. I formed an opinion and shared it in a conversational way.

If we were discussing the personality and morality of some CEO based on who they've hired and fired, or the content of their products compared to their PR statements, would you be bringing up attribution errors? Or is it just because celebrities are involved?

I don't really get this idea that it's impossible to tell what's really real in the world of entertainment, just because it's based on images and faking things is common practice. There are some facts, if not as many as our curiosity would like. Over time we can build up an opinion on the trustworthiness of individuals by comparing their PR to any undisputed info. And the people involved are human, not some mysterious alien species.

If Person A talks about girl power but only hangs out with models, uses slut-shaming in her written output and never collaborates with women on her real work: I'm going to call her a hypocrite, but would defend her from, say, accusations of plagiarism. If proof I'm wrong shows up for either of those, I'm happy to retract.

I'm sorry I didn't hedge my random guesses with disclaimers, but I didn't expect some kind of Spanish Inquisition I thought it was bloody obvious that I'm not in any way privy to the real solid truth. Perhaps I should have slagged off gossip magazines, just to prove I'm better than the kind of person who believes what they say?
posted by harriet vane at 12:13 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


harriet vane: "I don't really get this idea that it's impossible to tell what's really real in the world of entertainment, just because it's based on images and faking things is common practice."

Your mind will be blown when you find out that Taylor Swift is actually a South Asian man and Kanye West is actually a Hispanic woman. That's how amazing their image management is.
posted by Bugbread at 12:17 AM on July 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


They're all Hatsune Miku all along.
posted by cendawanita at 12:21 AM on July 25, 2016


I'm down the rabbithole of receipts, and apparently back in Oct her team was doing something similar with reblogs celebrating Adele's Hello smashing her Vevo records.
posted by cendawanita at 12:31 AM on July 25, 2016


cendawanita: "Instagram Protects Taylor Swift While Twitter Lets Racist Trolls Attack Leslie Jones (with updated info)"

I don't really get "whiles" like this. "Instagram protects Taylor Swift while it lets racist trolls attack Leslie Jones" says something about how Instagram treats whites and blacks differently. "Instagram protects Taylor Swift while Twitter doesn't" says something about how Instagram and Twitter differ. But "A handles situation B differently than C handles situation D" doesn't really tell me anything.
posted by Bugbread at 12:34 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I did think it was reaching, but now that The Australian piece is reported around, ppl are linking back to posts like that (which I picked because it had tweets noticing the deletions). So it was still reaching, but now (like the Snapchat videos) it's not just speculation on at least Instagram's part.

in any case don't worry. Buzzfeed had a poll commissioned and everything: Despite the internet celebrating #KimExposesTaylorParty, most regular Americans are solidly pro-Taylor. Also: Bad news for Kanye’s presidential campaign.
posted by cendawanita at 12:40 AM on July 25, 2016


"If we were discussing the personality and morality of some CEO based on who they've hired and fired, or the content of their products compared to their PR statements, would you be bringing up attribution errors? Or is it just because celebrities are involved?"

Actually, yeah, attribution errors are important there too. Though it's more likely to be a problem, like I alluded above, in areas of false intimacy like AskMe. Another place that it comes up a lot isn't so much business decisions of CEOs, but discussions of politicians and historical figures. About a week ago, it was Bush II who was prompting it, and Kardashian, Swift and West are as much cultural proxies as Bush II is.

"If Person A talks about girl power but only hangs out with models, uses slut-shaming in her written output and never collaborates with women on her real work: I'm going to call her a hypocrite, but would defend her from, say, accusations of plagiarism. If proof I'm wrong shows up for either of those, I'm happy to retract. "

The thing is, and maybe this is colored by spending a long time dealing with media around celebrities, is that the judgment can only be sustained as a performance itself, not a communication to the parties involved, and it's based on a close read of quasi-public communication aimed at multiple audiences, including people who have first-hand knowledge of the disputes in question, which we don't. There are very few people whose social media communication couldn't be judged hypocritical on close read, and the notion that there's somehow a "real" that's separated from that communication — even as it's mediated by publicity professionals around Swift — and that her deviation from that reality is a problem, means that you're always going to be judging her against your imagined, unachievable ideal for her behavior, and to the extent that the critique is personal, it's about you as a person, not her.

I'm not against criticizing celebrities, or talking about their public narratives and media personas. But what I was reacting against, and what you did, was substitute certainty of judgment for certainty of text.

"I'm sorry I didn't hedge my random guesses with disclaimers, but I didn't expect some kind of Spanish Inquisition I thought it was bloody obvious that I'm not in any way privy to the real solid truth. Perhaps I should have slagged off gossip magazines, just to prove I'm better than the kind of person who believes what they say?"

I don't remember slagging off gossip magazines, nor implying that I'm better than someone that believes what they write, although it looks like you don't think they're reporting any Platonic truths either. Maybe you were responding to someone else, maybe you were trying to respond to what you thought my "real" argument was, I'm not sure. I tend to think the issue is less gossip magazines and more the underacknowledged ambiguity of semi-public, semi-informal writing on social media, and the continued adherence to an incoherent standard of authenticity in evaluating cultural figures. Because of that, the ability to give much meaningful comment on performance like this isn't eliminated but it should be conservative and circumscribed.
posted by klangklangston at 11:06 AM on July 27, 2016


I guess I've never seen you mention it in business or politics breads, so it came across a bit like snobbery over the topic. Not that I've stalked you, so I could easily have missed it.

I'll be straight up: I didn't really understand your paragraph about how judgement can only be sustained as a performance itself. I understand each word individually, but together it sounds like you're maybe referring to some kind of media or communications theory I'm not familiar with. But I do think questions of social media and identity are really interesting, with celebrities at an extreme edge of both. If you have time I'd appreciate it if you could break it down for me.

Because I guess I don't see myself as judging Swift based on an imagined standard but on one she stated herself, in many instances over several years, was her standard. Yes, that's all part of the performance, but we all do that. She's just got a bigger platform. And when I compare to other celebrities they often act in ways which support the standard they've set for themselves. Beyonce came out as a black feminist, and has since then hired more women in on- and off-stage roles in her work, while donating money to Black Lives Matter and Black Girls Code. These don't seem to be hardships for someone with as much money and power as she has, but they're not nothing either. Kim K hasn't made any public statements about feminism, so I'm not judging her for her performance or lack of it in that area. So I don't see this standard as being unachievable: if you're gonna talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk.

I've picked on feminism here just because it's an area where I'm familiar with more than one aspect of it. The Swift/Kardashian stuff centres on honesty, in my reading of it. We'll never know and it could all be a publicity stunt between the three of them. I guess I don't see why people couldn't lie or renege on a publicity stunt, or just perform it badly. Anything humans do is open to interpersonal bullshit and workplace fuckups. Just because there are PR staff, doesn't mean everything will go to plan. And it's when things go wrong that we can get a glimpse into a complex system which hides its complexity (see also: research on brain injuries).
posted by harriet vane at 3:18 AM on July 29, 2016


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