2015 has been quite the year for Taylor Alison Swift.
After the success of her multi-platinum, record-breaking, hugely successful album 1989, Swift embarked on a year-long world tour which spanned multiple continents, selling out dozens of shows and grossing almost 200 million dollars.
So, maybe claiming that she had “quite the year” is a bit of an understatement.
But nonetheless, the general public has this lovely tendency which consists of tearing down independent, successful women, particularly women they were incredibly fond of not too long ago, and as anyone who has a Twitter account knows, Taylor has been shown no mercy.
Why, you might ask? What would anyone have against Taylor Swift? Her songs are fun and relatable, she has a nice enough voice, she’s an excellent songwriter, what’s not to like? And if I’m not exactly a fan, can’t I just accept that other people have differing opinions and move on with my life?
As easy as that sounds, some people find it incredibly difficult to make that scenario a reality.
Modern social media has trained us to become increasingly considered about image. Image has always been everything, but in 2015, there’s a disturbingly artificial undertone applied to the way someone or something is presented to us. Nothing is quite what it seems, and as the popular Marina and the Diamonds track “Sex Yeah!” instructs: “question what the TV tells you, question what a pop star sells you.” So naturally, there’s nothing wrong about being a little cautious or assuming that someone has negative or shady intentions.
But when someone contributes so openly and publicly to society as Swift does, with hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to charity each year and several humanitarian efforts, how could one assume that these contributions are misguided?
Let’s take a look specifically at some of these “grievances”.
“See you in court.”
This now viral phrase has seen mass coverage on social media in light of recent allegations made concerning Taylor. Earlier this year, BuzzFeed reported that Swift was “cracking down on fans who are using the craft website Etsy to sell products with Swift’s trademarks.” A Business Insider article noted that “The online marketplace allows users to sell their handcrafted goods — a kind of boutique eBay. It is popular with fan communities like Swift’s, and numerous T-shirts, pictures, candles and other items on the site are emblazoned with the singer’s image and lyrics. But Swift has had enough, and she is issuing cease-and-desist letters to many sellers on the site.”
Although it has been confirmed that Swift’s team did in fact threaten legal action against sellers illegally using trademarked TS content for their own profit, it should also be noted that no actual legal action was pursued, and as Business Insider also noted, celebrities “can take legal action if a product is marketed in a way that suggests they have endorsed it. Rihanna, using this argument, won a long-running dispute with the retailer Topshop over a T-shirt with a photo of her on it. Beyoncé had her own showdown with Etsy in January. The singer reportedly threatened to sue Etsy over mugs sold on the site with the word “Feyoncé” on them — a play on the words “Beyoncé” and “fiancé.”
The Etsy sellers removed their stolen content and Swift’s team backed off. The situation should’ve been settled.
It’s not that simple, apparently. Days later, Billboard, Refinery29 and dozens of other media outlets misprinted misinformation, alleging that Taylor’s team had actually taken legitimate legal action against these sellers in the form of lawsuits. Nice try, Billboard. If you’re gonna steal a Buzzfeed article, learn how to read before you attempt to manipulate an article for a few more consumer clicks. And of course, most Twitter users read incredibly selectively, so that part of the story just went right over their heads. Thus, the incredibly obnoxious “see you in court” and seemingly endless charade of Taylor suing jokes was born.
In August 2014, with the release of her hit single and its’ accompanying music video “Shake It Off”, Swift garnered negative criticism for so-called “cultural appropriation” and even claims of racism (!) for the use of African-American men and women and their culture in her work. Hunger Games star Amandla Stenberg uploaded a then viral commentary in which she shaded Swift for appropriating her “culture”. As an African-American male, I find it extremely amusing and ironic that Stenberg has an issue with dancing black people in a Taylor Swift video, seeing as she played the part of a helpless black child from an underprivileged district who was chosen to fight against white forces clearly more powerful than her in an arena financed by a tyrannical and oppressive white system. Stenberg’s character in the Hunger Games, “Rue” was killed by a white male, by the way. She befriended Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence, a white female, before her death. I guess cultural appropriation only matters to her when she’s not being payed for a role. Although limiting artistic expression by skin tone is a pretty boring concept to me, I can agree that cultural appropriation is a legitimate issue and has been for centuries. However, it is completely unfounded and inappropriate to accuse Swift of doing this, especially when more damaging and important situations are evident. At least you tried, Amanda.
“the Spotify controversy”
In 2014, Taylor Swift removed her music from Spotify amid harsh criticism. Many claimed that she was money-hungry and greedy (but nonetheless, had nothing to say when Adele did the same exact thing only weeks ago). I could write long essays about the specifics but what it boils down to is this: Swift believes that music has value, Spotify pays their artists an incredibly small amount of money in royalties per track, and Swift rejected this. And rightfully so. Do you walk into your full time job or profession and expect to be paid 1/100 of what you should be earning? If you do, you’re a saint. If you don’t, you’re what I’d call a “normal, average person”. Swift and Spotify broke ties. After a heated debate with Apple Music, a letter to Apple executives by Taylor herself, and Apple’s indication that it would indeed pay its’ artists the money they so rightfully deserve, Taylor allowed her music to be featured in the Apple Music program. As simple as that sounds, it’s apparently extremely difficult for some attention seeking teenage and young adult Twitter users to comprehend. How unfortunate.
Now, with a year full of hatred, ridiculous allegations and potentially-career ruining slander, you’d think Swift was devastated by all the negative press.
Newsflash! She’s not. She doesn’t care. She’s had an incredibly successful world tour, 1989 is hovering around 9 million copies sold worldwide, she’s in a lovely relationship with music producer Calvin Harris, has dozens of incredible celebrity friends and millions of adoring fans whom are ready to support her at any cost. For Taylor Swift, life is good. Life is great. So for all the doubters out there, you can keep your fake outrage. To all the nonbelievers, you can keep your unfounded claims. And lastly, to the haters, you can keep on hate-hate-hating. Taylor remains unbothered. She’s just gonna shake it off. And any self-respecting and intelligent member of society should as well.
What’s your favorite song off 1989? Tweet us at CelebMix and let us know!