For someone so divisive, Taylor’s list of sins is pretty short.
This week Taylor Swift was crowned the AMAs Artist Of The Decade. There’s no doubt Taylor’s one of the most successful musicians in the world — her credentials say it all — but the award also feels fitting for another reason. For 10 years she’s been one of the most talked about public figures, her every move — from feuds to dates — sparking headlines and heated debate.
The crazy amount of hate Taylor Swift gets has always been a head-scratcher for me. Some criticisms feel valid, but a lot of it — her ‘man-eating’ ways, say — reeks of sexism.
Cancel culture is well and truly in full swing. We do our bit to hold people to account for their bad behaviour — or, we try to — and we’re starting to pull people up on their lack of activism, too. Taylor’s perceived sins mostly fall into the second camp: she’s not socially active enough and even when she is, it’s not genuine.
This is a common critique of Taylor, and it’s not unfounded. She took years to make her stance on Trump, feminism and LGBTQ+ rights clear, and as a result became a poster girl for alt-right white America, something she’s said she regrets. In recent years she’s made efforts to speak out against these groups and what they stand for.
Let’s look at her track record: she’s an LGBTQ+ rights supporter (flawed attempts or otherwise, she’s trying); she’s stuck her professional neck out for artists’ rights, and she’s donated to many charities in her time, including the Tennessee Equality Project, which is battling a “slate of hate” state bills.
Is it in Tay’s best interest to distance herself from extremism? For sure, but considering the crazy public scrutiny that comes with a female stardom like hers, it’s also risky to lend her voice to anything.
Here’s Taylor’s take as per Rolling Stone: “And then they decided in 2016 that absolutely everything about me was wrong,” she said. “If I did something good, it was for the wrong reasons. If I did something brave, I didn’t do it correctly. If I stood up for myself, I was throwing a tantrum. And so I found myself in this endless mockery echo chamber.”
I don’t really know what we all expect from Taylor Swift. Should she never speak out about things that she’s passionate about just because she kept quiet when she was younger? Are artist’s opinions not allowed to grow and mature like the rest of ours as we work our way through this woke new world?
Ideally artists would lend their clout to causes, and while some do, many don’t — activism isn’t actually part of the job description. So why is Taylor Swift singled out? Is she perfect? Far from it. But she cops a lot more shit than many other celebs who’ve contributed far less to social causes.
Gone are the days when celebrities were just entertainers. Rightly or wrongly, they’re political figures; social activists; they’re held accountable. Some, like Taylor, more than others.
Stream Taylor Swift's latest album, folklore, here:
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