Taylor Swift released the “You Need to Calm Down” video yesterday revealing what she and Katy Perry have been building towards for a while now: they’ve made up, the feud is officially officially over. Katy even tweeted about it and Taylor replied that it’s a “happy meal”.
So how did this come together? Well since she’s back to telling us everything, Taylor explained to BBC Radio via Buzzfeed:
"We have been on really good terms for a while. But the first time we saw each other was at this party, and it was just very clear to both of us that everything was different. That we had grown up. That we had grown past allowing ourselves to be pitted against each other. It just was really, really clear that we remembered how much we had in common. Both of us have been in a really good place for a while, but I don't know if either of us knew if we were gonna talk about it publicly."
Yesterday at The Atlantic, Spencer Kornhaber wrote about the “queasy double message” behind “You Need to Calm Down”. It’s the way Taylor seems to be equating homophobia, which presents a real threat to people’s lives, with celebrity criticism, “that famous people are persecuted in a way meaningfully comparable to queer people”. With that in mind, when she’s characterising her years-long feud with Katy as “allowing ourselves to be pitted against each other”, that’s a blame-shift, a convenient overlook of why they stopped being friends in the first place, making it sound like it was the media and sexism that pulled them apart. That society is always trying to turn women into adversaries.
But Taylor was the one who wrote “Bad Blood” and then told Rolling Stone that the song was about another pop star who was constantly trying to undermine her. And Katy was the one who tweeted …
Didn’t they pit themselves against each other? Nobody else started this fire. That said, of course, it’s true that there is a certain conditioning, that women are socially conditioned to see each other as adversaries – is that the point she’s trying to make? If it is, I don’t think it’s landing, and I don’t think it’s landing because Taylor’s narrative has always been “people talk sh-t about me, the media talks sh-t about me, they gave me a reputation, I’ve always been the nice one”. It’d be great if there was a more nuanced conversation about the habits we’re all trying to unlearn, taking ownership of the part we all play in either enabling the systems that work against us or actively being aware of them so that we can challenge them. At some point, we’re probably all the “you” in “You Need to Calm Down”. Was she ever the “you”?