Last year, Spotify ranked me in the top 0.005% of Taylor Swift listeners.I became a true Swiftie with the release of “Lover.” During the height of the pandemic, Swift released her surprise albums, “folklore” and “evermore,” which only solidified my Swiftie status.
Having established my credibility and with the release of her tenth studio album, “Midnights,” — I have a bone to pick with Ms. Swift.
She is a privileged, white, capitalist machine.
But, she has established herself as pro-democrat, pro-feminist and a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community — so it is easy to support her blindly.
For one, she is in the process of recording her stolen albums in order to own her masters utilizing the front of artists’ rights. She has also been successful in a male-dominated industry, particularly significant in her country music days.
Politically, Swift has spoken against the Trump administration. She also vocally supports the Equality Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender. Swift is also a philanthropist, donating largely to public education as well as to organizations that provide support for victims of sexual assault.
For all of these respectable things, Swift has done some not-so-pretty things.
For starters, Swift’s recent music video for lead single “Anti-Hero” sparked fatphobic accusations. In the video, she steps on a scale that reads “FAT.” While I understand that Swift has been open about struggling with disordered eating and its effects, like body dysmorphia, she should have also considered who she is and how it would be received, especially by the plus-size community. The incident serves as a reminder that two things can be true at once.
This year, marketing and analytics agency Yard published a list naming the celebrity world’s top CO2 polluters. Swift claimed the top spot, her jet reportedly having 170 flights in seven months.
Swift’s collaboration with the film adaptation of Delia Owen’s novel, “Where the Crawdads Sing,” has become questionable – it has come to light that Owens is reportedly wanted for questioning in relation to the murder of a Zambian poacher. Owens also has racist allegations about her work as a conservationist in Africa.
In Swift’s music video for her hit “Shake it Off,” her inclusion of Black culture, perhaps intended as a celebratory homage, is lazy at best and racist at worst. Her appropriation sparked a flood of online criticism. Many pointed out that not all white, female dancers are ballerinas, and not all Black dancers exclusively love to twerk.
All these things feed into Swift’s white feminism and overall lack of recognition of her privilege.
In reality, Swift’s politics are superficial and subversive. It is precisely the anti-establishment than is not only permissible but actually encouraged. Being who Swift is, she could never actually challenge authority — the problem is that it appears that she could.
Nothing that Swift could say would sincerely threaten her career. She has become an expert at balancing appealing to liberal sentiments versus actually letting them grow. As consumers, we are falsely lulled into a sense of being progressive. Radicalism is allowed in some areas but not others.
Depending on which image best suits her situation, Swift has established herself as an activist as well as an agreeable popstar. Her platform is massive, and she is aware of it, so she must act accordingly.
Celebrities like Taylor Swift are not exempt from our criticism. In fact, it makes us better fans for calling them out and holding her accountable.
It is a complicated relationship I have as a Taylor Swift fan. I implore you all to take a deep look and question your favorite artists.
While ultimately, Swift’s shortcomings are perhaps not her own entirely but rather indispensable aspects of the industries and systems of the world she exists within, continue to nuance the things you love, work to honestly critique them and understand why you love them.