Pop star Taylor Swift released her most recent album, “Reputation,” on Nov. 10, and as usual, it received various accolades and climbed to number one album within a week.
However, it did not meet the expectations that Swift’s previous records have set. Her last album, “1989,” which she released in 2014, sold 1.3 million copies within its first week, whereas “Reputation” sold 1.2 million. Likewise, in week two, “Reputation” sold 232,000 copies of the full album compared to the 402,000 copies that “1989” sold.
As a former avid Swift fan, I did not even take the time to listen to this album as I did for previous albums. Her girl-next-door persona and gentle musical tones have completely disappeared, replaced by harsh lyrics and a reputation for being politically insensitive and a white feminist. Her history of public feuds does not help either.
In my opinion, her current reputation began with the feud with Kanye West. In Sept. 2009 at the Video Music Awards, when Swift won Best Female Video for her song, “You Belong With Me.” West interrupted Swift on stage to say, “Beyonce had one of the best music videos of all time.” At the time, Swift seemed like a victim. Later on, Swift and West publicly acknowledged one another at various awards shows, dismissing any propositions that there was lingering animosity between the two entertainment industry leaders.
Yet animosity reappeared when West released the song “Famous,” in which he claims that he is responsible for the fame of other celebrities, including Swift. Kim Kardashian, West’s wife, then posted a Snapchat video series depicting a phone call between West and Swift in which Swift appeared to approve of the lyrics in the call, despite having publicly decried them.
At that point, Swift was consistently depicted on social media as a snake, often symbolized with a snake emoji. She is often seen as someone who victimizes herself in the entertainment industry to capitalize on her fans. Her reputation was ruined, and to make matters worse, Swift has never publicly acknowledged the racial implications of the situation.
Especially in light of the recent political climate where white supremacy is running rampant throughout the United States, it is of the utmost importance that white allies speak out about their beliefs, especially allies who have large platforms like Swift. Instead, she plays the role of an unjustifiably victimized white woman, crying out for help against the alleged actions of an innocent Black man. She takes advantage of white feminism and ignored the racial implications behind the all-too-familiar dynamics that play out.
As a white woman with a large platform, Swift should take action. However, it is not surprising that Swift did not recognize this publicly or in the lyrics of her usually carefully-crafted, poetic songs because she rarely speaks about politics. She has yet to denounce the white supremacists and neo-Nazis that support her as a political figure. In a political climate where so many people value political action, this has most likely contributed to her success. For instance, she is praised in the white supremacist blog “The Daily Stormer.”
“Taylor Swift is a pure Aryan goddess, like something out of classical Greek poetry,” wrote Andre Anglin, one of the blog’s writers.
Swift does not denounce any of these publications–nor does she speak out about politics at all.
In “Reputation,” Swift attempted to address the complicated facets of her reputation that have built up over the years through various feuds and a lack of political participation. However, she does it in a way that seems to blame others for the consequences of her actions, and she comes across as completely bitter and unapologetic.
In her single “Look What You Made Me Do,” she sings “I don’t like your little games…The role you made me play/Of the fool, no, I don’t like you.”
Swift insinuates that others pushed her to take the actions that tarnished her reputation. She refuses to take responsibility herself, and she comes across as emotionally immature.
Her previous girl-next-door reputation has completely disintegrated. Her political apathy and social demeanor and shift in musical tone have not yet led to a major decline in her popularity, but it seems more and more likely that such a day may soon be coming.