The first song I ever heard by Taylor Swift was “Tim McGraw.” I was 15 and it was on a breakup mix CD my best friend gave me. I thought she’d be a flash in the pan, but I liked the song. Now, 10 years later, T-Swift is a mega mogul and pop icon—and probably one of my least favorite celebrities. So much so that I’ve actually been forced to side with Kimye in this recent dumpster fire of a celebattle.
I should say, right off the bat, that I admire Taylor for her business sense and her ambition. I think that any time a woman can get ahead in this world, she deserves a round of applause. The fact that she runs her own business and controls her image so tightly is legit impressive. My issue is not with her success. My issue is with the methods—specifically her exploitation of the “good girl” image—with which she achieved that success.
As my friends and family can attest to, I’ve always said that I care significantly less about whether a person is “good” or “bad” as long as they’re up-front about whatever and whoever they are as people. Therein lies my problem with T-Swift. She is stunningly calculating in her choices, a regular Machiavelli in high-waisted shorts, yet insistingly paints herself as an innocent girl-next-door, just trying to hang with her #squad and throw cute parties for the 4th of July.
I’m not judging Taylor for being calculating—she’s getting ahead, so it’s working, and one of my all-time favorite books is The Prince. I have another book at my house literally titled People: How to Get Them to Do What You Want Them to Do, complete with a chapter called “Fear and How to Make Other People’s Fears Work For You.” In fact, I want Taylor to stick it to the haters who have always told you your singing voice was bad and who gave you hell for switching from country to pop. #GIRLPOWER. I’m judging her for not owning that part of her personality, for trying to cover it up and disguise it as doe-eyed naivety.
Now, Kim and Kanye. Kimye. I do not enjoy these people. I do not like Kanye’s clothes. His music is OK. I probably have just as many Kanye songs as Taylor Swift saved in my Spotify. I do not watch the Kardashians or particularly care what they do with their lives. (However, like I praised T-Swift for her business success, I do enjoy the fact that one of the most famous families in the world is matriarchal and supportive of interracial relationships and the rights of transgendered people.)
This controversy about Kanye’s “Famous,” or what it has boiled down to now, is a discussion of, essentially, whether Taylor knew he’d call her “bitch” in the song. She says no, Kimye says yes. Kimye has video evidence—not enough to prove that Taylor knew, but just enough to chip away at her perfect facade, and perhaps reveal a bit more of who she is after all.
A friend of mine (an admitted T-Swift fan, much to my chagrin), said she recognized Taylor’s poorly handled and poorly disguised manipulation in this situation after Kimye’s video reveal: “Taylor trying to paint Kanye as a villain because she knows her demographic thinks he is difficult (and he is, certainly) when he did make an effort to reach out is kind of gross. Her assertion she didn’t know he was going to use the word ‘bitch’ is splitting hairs at this point.'”
And there you have it. A Swifty, staring at the giant cardboard cutout of Taylor Swift’s life, watching a Kardashian poke big holes in it.
As Lainey of LaineyGossip put it, “[Kim Kardashian West] just claimed a victory for [Kanye West] against Taylor Swift, a mean girl who has traded on an increasingly thin image of rising above and a message of good character. That’s the problem when you pretend to not be a mean girl and you get caught up in a girl sh-t battle against a girl who celebrates her mean girlness. She will find your holes.”
I’m reminded of the scene in Tina Fey’s cult classic where Janis and Damien find out Cady didn’t invite them to her party. She makes my point exactly.
Janis: “At least me and Regina George know we’re mean. You try to act like you’re so innocent, like, ‘Oh I used to live in Africa with all the little birdies and the little monkeys.'”
You’ve got to give Kimye this: They have never made themselves out to be anything more or less than they are. Kim has built a gajillion-dollar corporation on the back of a sex tape. Kanye consistently gives weird interviews where he says some truly insane/arrogant stuff. Neither of them has lied to you about who they are. You may not like any of it (same), but at least they are honest about it. They own the way they’ve manipulated the media, and continue to.
As Lainey said elsewhere in that article, “It’s not like you can call [Kim] out on fame hypocrisy. She plays the game. She loves the game. Mostly though, Mrs. West has never claimed to be above it. She has always quite happily shown that she is IN it. That she’s living in the dirt, living in the smut. Which is why, when she’s serving up the smut, she’s actually bulletproof. What are you actually going to say to her?”
Lainey is so right. You legit cannot chastise Kim for releasing those videos. Of course she got the whole thing on Snapchat! Her entire existence revolves around filming literally everything she does. Did we expect better from her? No. And she knows that.
And no, I don’t see Taylor’s choice to portray herself as “above the fray” and so disapproving of mean-girl tactics or the celebrity battlefield as an example of the same calculated PR tactics she’s used to become a mogul. I think that maybe it started that way, back in the early days, when it was just her and some teardrops and weird glasses in a music video about short skirts, when she was a relatively new name. Now it just looks like a bad makeup job to cover a giant zit or the person wearing a shirt buttoned all the way up to hide their chest piece. Like, we all know it’s there. We feel you. Zits suck and your tattoos are cool! So just own it and go on. IMHO, she’d better serve her image now to ditch the good-girl attitude and go for more of a “bad bitch” vibe. Think Beyoncé. She still slays at feminism and being a role model, but she owns her badness.
I’m not defending Kanye’s choice to call T-Swift a derogatory term. I’m not saying he did or did not call her and ask for her permission, or that she did or did not give him the OK or tell him to stick it. The “Famous” battle royale has just made me realize that, as much as I regret saying it, I may actually respect Kimye more than Taylor, at least in this instance.
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