On this week’s episode of our Show Your Work podcast, Duana and I spent some time talking about Taylor Swift and the criticism she received after the Women’s March, specifically whether or not Taylor Swift can continue to be apolitical in these times, especially when her brand since 1989 has been about female empowerment. Taylor Swift has been relatively quiet the last few weeks, even months you could say. But that’s coming to an end. The video for I Don’t Want To Live Forever was released a few days ago, ahead of Super Bowl weekend. You’ll recall, back in October, it was announced that Taylor had signed a multi-year multi-platform deal with AT&T and part of the agreement involved performing at the AT&T DirecTV pre-Super Bowl party in Houston this Saturday February 4th. It’s now been over 2 years since her last album, 1989, undeniably a major blockbuster. Will the appearance be a one-off or will it be the kickstart to the next phase of Taylor Swift’s career? Who will Taylor Swift be in the next phase of her career?
This morning Buzzfeed posted a great piece written by Ellie Woodward about who Taylor Swift has been up to this point in her career: a victim, always a victim. In the article, Ellie Woodward argues that Taylor built her brand by casting herself as the constant target of heartless men, Kanye West, the media, and Katy Perry, using race and class to her advantage to manipulate the industry and the public. And it worked for years…until Kim Kardashian called her out last summer. In the aftermath of the receipts, I noted that Taylor’s increasingly cloying innocence was untenable anyway and that she was fully capable of using the situation as a pivot, an opportunity to reinvent. As I wrote at the time the first step would be to pull back, to not be so accessible, and then to use that absence to put some space between the “old” Taylor and free herself to be the “new” one…whoever that might be.
As Ellie Woodward concludes, over the last couple of months, Taylor seems to be “clearly rejecting the traditional femininity and victimised posture she’s occupied for so long”. Does she replace that mask with another one, though, or will we actually get to see what’s underneath?
Yours in gossip,