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Pop Culture Analysis: Taylor Swift

Lynnea Zhang, '19, Editor

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The world today is divided. Not in the context of foreign policy, or what the next new internet sensation will be, or even whatever on earth is happening with political factions in America, but about Pennsylvania native Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift has undoubtedly caused the end of summer social phenomenon, and has also created a rather large social divide on an issue most likely will not have a momentous effect on the future, but still continues to be extremely entertaining to watch. That’s mainly because people have very, very strong opinions on Taylor Swift and her new song slash album. This isn’t an article to tell you whether or not ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ is fantastic or a dumpster fire, this isn’t even an article to tell you whether or not Taylor Swift is a good person. This is a pop culture analysis: a breakdown of current events regarding Swift, and an analysis of her controversies.

The music video for ‘LWYMMD’ is jammed pack full of easter eggs with a little dash of satire. That in itself is an amusing ride to see, from the Nils Sjoberg tomb that Taylor used as a pseudonym to write a song for her then-boyfriend Calvin Harris, the large number of snakes in reference to Kim Kardashian’s shade thrown to Swift with her ‘National Snake Day’ tweet that prompted thousands of users to spam Swift’s instagram account with snake emojis, the fact that Swift robs a company called “Stream & Co” in the video, which is in reference to her speaking out against music streaming services, to her army of dolls and Squad U that satirize the criticisms towards her group of friends consisting of model-perfect best friends, the “I heart TS” shirts, the mountain of former Taylor Swifts, the ‘old taylor is dead line’, and on and on. There isn’t quite an end to the amount of bitterness that is packed into the video, but what makes it funny is Swift’s ability to satirize herself in the process. She mocks herself the same way that the internet had once mocked her, and that breaks down the perfect life and PR empire that she had crafted for herself. And that’s exactly what ‘Reputation’ is supposed to do.

Recall to nearly a year ago, Taylor Swift hit an all time low point of social criticism when Kim Kardashian West emerged with receipts of Swift’s approval her husband’s controversial lyrics in the song ‘Famous’. She had spoken against the use of the lyrics in the name of fighting against misogyny and objectification, but that facade seemingly crumbled down rather quickly. And while Swift might have been justified about other parts of the lyrics, social media was not happy with her.

That brings me to one vital easter egg from her new music video, the single dollar bill wading in a bathtub full of jewels. Right before her announcement of her new album, Swift decided to counter sue a former-DJ who lost his job once Taylor had brought a claim of sexual harassment against him. And while another one of the biggest criticisms of Swift being that she only cares about money – her battles against streaming companies, concert ticket fiascos, etc. – she sued the man for a single dollar, stating that the dollar was immeasurable and symbolic to all women who have experienced similar situations. Swift dropped jaws with testimonies consisting of “I am not going to allow your client to make me feel like it is any way my fault, because it isn’t…Here we are years later, and I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are the product of his decisions — not mine” and yes, despite Swift’s morally questionable actions, despite her long chain of boyfriends (which really shouldn’t be an issue, to be honest), she is taking a large step with a high profile case of what is everyday, gratuitous sexual violence against women. Having had her belief in women’s rights questioned over the past year, Swift’s takedown of victim-blaming, attempts to guilt-trip her, and the ever so symbolic dollar bill matter, and it is a movement that feminism needs. For Swift, the feeling of sexism is something that hse undeniably also feels. She’s held to double standards, her protests against Kanye West’s song never really seemed to resonate with the public. In the end, it is not money that will begin to heal the wounds that women experience from harassment, but it is the victory, and it is the reassurance that they are not alone, and someone who commands 103 million followers on social media is standing there with them. After cases like Kesha’s litigation of Dr. Luke, having someone who is undoubtedly a social phenomenon be there to genuinely support feminism and support justice being brought to to perpetrators make you kind of rethink, and imagine a world where people convicted of sexual violence get more than two months in jail, where and victims are not blamed for pain someone else inflicted on them. Taylor Swift ends her music video with the quote “I’d very much like to be excluded from this narrative”, and maybe she isn’t talking about the narrative of sexual assault, victim-blaming, and the rise of homophobia and sexism in political factions today, but I agree, I’d very much like to be excluded from that narrative.

The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.
Pop Culture Analysis: Taylor Swift