The year everyone realized they were wrong about Taylor Swift confronting Kanye West

Kanye Taylor 2017 - Credit: Scott Dudelson/FilmMagic;  Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

Kanye Taylor 2017 – Credit: Scott Dudelson/FilmMagic; Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

what do you Remember the feud between Kanye West and Taylor Swift? Perhaps there’s something about the misogynistic lyrics in West’s 2016 song “Famous,” Swift’s subtle but harsh criticism at that year’s Grammy streak — or, later, Kim Kardashian’s claims that the track had Swift’s pre-approval. The snake emoji sure rings a bell — there it was a lot Snake emoji. If the details were fuzzy, the general lines seemed clear to many observers at the time: Taylor Swift did something bad.

The clash of the two stars was the subject of heated discussion and attracted enthusiastic fans on both sides. But the following year, a conventional wisdom settled into place—a wisdom rooted in public figures that both artists were chosen, either fairly or unfairly. In one corner was West, still widely seen as the righteous crusader who confronted hip-hop’s history of homophobia and boldly declared that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” a decade ago. In the other part was Swift, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed icon at the height of her fame — whose long-term apolitical stance was quickly recast in the crucible of Trump-era politics to fuel baseless conspiracies that she was secretive. Nazi.

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This was the context Swift returned to in the fall of 2017 reputationwhich is a spin-off to its megahit 1989. It has been widely praised for its traditional safty “masterful hooks”, writes Rob Sheffield. Rolling Stone‘, as well as being Swift’s first album to truly speak to his pop contemporaries. For the many online commenters who remembered her feud with Kanye, reputation It rang as an exercise in self-indulgence, stigmatizing the tone for the political crisis it had reached.

What a difference six years would make. Some of it comes down to details: We now know, for example, that the recording that Swift appeared to have signed to the infamous song “Famous” was tampered with. But that doesn’t quite explain why public opinion around Kanye and Taylor has almost completely reversed since then. Swift has revealed herself to be a vocal Democrat about pressing political issues like many of her peers. Meanwhile, the West embarked on a steady descent into MAGA-land, then accelerated into a full-blown rush into far-right hate speech. Now that we know the rapper who made a sex doll out of Swift in the “Famous” video wants to move on to “Death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE,” maybe it’s time to finally give Swift the win.

To understand the heated discussions between Swift and West in 2016 and 2017, it’s worth unpacking the circumstances that led to them. Swift was riding high 1989, the record-breaking album of shimmering vocals and soaring drum loops catapulted her to true stardom. She often posts Instagram pics with her supermodel-heavy celebrity girl squad, whom she honors with a lavish Fourth of July party at her Rhode Island beach mansion every summer. Swift formed a fragile friendship with West and his new wife, apparently eager to bury the hatchet after a 2009 VMA episode in which West interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech to inform the award show’s nine million viewers that Beyoncé had “one of the best videos of ‘all time. ‘” Barack Obama had called West an “ass” for his antics, but Swift didn’t escape the backlash either, which is fueled in part by a growing sense among detractors that she’s leaning too heavily on the damsel-in-distress and energy of #GirlBoss.

Then came “famous”. West’s first single of 2016 Pablo’s life He bluntly suggested that he “and Taylor still have sex” because he “made that bitch famous.” Swift responded when her Album of the Year accepted the Grammys 1989, discussing “people who will try to undermine your success or take credit for your accomplishments”. Kardashian later confronted Swift’s remarks in a June 2016 interview with Instagram GQ, claiming that Swift “totally approved” of the song but nonetheless “absolutely hated my husband for just playing the victim again.” Then, Kardashian released what appeared to be incontrovertible evidence: a recording of the phone call in which Swift showed his approval of the lyric. Swift said she “would very much like to be left out of this novel”, but that the narrative had been worked out. #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty has become the global trending topic on Twitter. “Do you know how many people have to tweet because they hate you for that to happen?” Swift will later reflect in the 2020 documentary Miss Americana.

This is all unfolding against the backdrop of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and burgeoning neo-Nazi delusions of Swift harboring far-right beliefs. The Daily Stormer, a white supremacist blog, claimed without evidence that Swift was an “Aryan goddess” and a “secret Nazi” who was “simply waiting for the time when Donald Trump makes it safe for her.” Mysterious, fascist-friendly meme accounts have posted photos of Swift along with quotes from Adolf Hitler. Far-right agitator Milo Yiannopoulos, who writes in Breitbart, dubiously declared her an “alt-right pop icon”. Meanwhile, Swift has never been more silent: Her recent bruising brush with West appears to have sent her into hiding. “Nobody had seen me physically for a year, and that was what I thought they wanted,” she later said. But rather than self-preservation, people misread Swift’s actions as political indifference — or even a tacit agreement with her conservative fans.

The year 2016 was not particularly over for the West. He claimed he owed $53 million. His New York Fashion Week show for Yeezy, his haute couture line, was declared “boring” and “worse than bad” by critics. Cancel Saint Pablo Early round — but not before he spoke out in support of Trump during a show in November. Yet none of West’s losses or political missteps translated into redeeming Swift in the eyes of her harshest critics. From the moment she wiped her Instagram clean and replaced it with a slick snake video in August 2017, many have had the perception that Swift has gotten completely caught up in petty celebrity fights. “Look What You Made Me Do”, her first single reputation Widely interpreted as a shot in the West, it only reinforced that mood. “I have no idea what Swift’s policies are,” he wrote. EagleIt was Mark Harris at the time,” but I’ve heard enough of her songs over the years for that certainly I know what their policy is: I win, but for the record, I’m a victim of haters and losers. “

In retrospect, such analyzes read like hangovers of Western hostility, ignoring both Swift’s recent actions that year and the broader cultural shifts that are afoot. That summer, Swift won a lawsuit against a Denver DJ who groped her in 2013. A few weeks later, New York times She will publish her explosive exposé of Harvey Weinstein’s assaults on dozens of vulnerable young women. In December of that year, time The magazine was hailing Swift as one of the “silence breakers” at the dawn of #MeToo (an honor that sparked another controversy, as Swift’s political silence was seen as self-imposing). The #MeToo era has reframed conventional wisdom about power dynamics and toxic masculinity. In hindsight, that was it Start Is it fair for West to call up a younger artist and ask her if he can tell the world that she owes him sex for her fame?

What Swift learned from her voluntary denial is that it’s better to say more than less — and she’s taken steps to make sure people don’t misunderstand where she stood politically again. She made her first official political endorsement in 2018, for the Democratic nominee in the US Senate race in Tennessee, and followed up with an endorsement of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign in 2020. She spoke candidly about her regret at not endorsing Hillary Clinton in 2016: “Absolutely,” she said. Rolling Stone. “I regret a lot of things all the time.” She wrote her first political songs publicly—first, the allegorical “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” about the story of her political exodus, and later, one single, “Only the Young,” about the 2018 Parkland school shooting. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade This past June, Swift wasted no time in issuing a statement. “I am absolutely terrified that this is where we are – that after so many decades of people fighting for women’s rights to their bodies, today’s resolution stripped us of that,” she tweeted the day the resolution was passed.

As for the West? His image as a righteous crusader was already showing its age in 2016. In the intervening six years, it has completely crumbled. What began as a rambling onstage endorsement of Trump’s candidacy took a sharp turn toward right-wing hatred and anti-Semitism — a choice that cost him his Twitter account, his agent, and a host of lucrative endorsement deals. His hugely self-destructive role in 2022 reprises Swift’s “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” lines, another one of his reputation’Western-tinged videos, almost as if prescient: “Because you break it, I have to take it away.”

The song “Famous” and the music video depicting Swift and others as sexual wax figures look different, too — like the dark and harmful actions of a deeply troubled artist. Taylor, unfortunately by critics play The victim, in fact I was One. Swift later recounted, “They decided in 2016 that everything about me was wrong.” Rolling Stone, in the cover story where she finally broke her silence on that year’s controversies. “If I did something well, it was for the wrong reasons. If I did something brave, I didn’t do it right. If I defended myself, I’d throw a tantrum. And so I found myself in this echo chamber of endless cynicism.”

reputationMeanwhile, her own reputation has seen well and has been fully recovered. The project cemented her longstanding production partnership with Jack Antonoff and embraced the fresher pop sound that’s now as signature to her aesthetic as her bright red lipstick. Her words reach a new level of uncanny subtlety, laying the foundation for the immersive story folklore And forever and painful introspection midnight. songs reputation, from the fluttery romance of “Delicate” to the indelible hook of “Getaway Car,” ranks among her best. Replete with long snakes running along the stage, the world tour broke records as the highest-grossing North American tour of all time. Today, fandom for Swift has reached an “almost unmanageable size,” she said recently — a level of popularity that broke Ticketmaster during its upcoming sales. eras round and forced Congress to hold antitrust hearings on the ticket giant. in time, reputation Obscured through the lens of a misunderstood controversy that has tarnished just how much the world saw Swift. All these years later, it’s an album whose merits, like hers, speak for themselves.

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