Taylor Swift’s “rivalries” in her Reputation album and her support of the LGBTQ+ community might be part of the same career strategy
Only now that Pride is mainstream, Taylor Swift seems to have jumped on the bandwagon of vehement outrage at social injustices. This falls in line with her attempts to paint herself as an “underdog” in her Reputation album, fighting against a “system” now that it is popular to do so.
While a song in fervent support of the LGBTQ+ community that is also designed to encourage political action is bound to create positive change, especially when presented on a platform like Taylor Swift’s, this kind of resounding back-turning to “the system” seems to be part of Swift’s publicity tactics. With the release of her album Reputation in 2017, Swift drops a myriad of songs that promote a new image of a scorned, vengeful, and powerful woman, and also seem to call up old drama. According to Insider, Swift conjured up a sort of team of enemies and pitted them against her, even if said feuds are years old and perhaps already settled. According to a biting review from Daily Beast, Taylor Swift has attempted to transform her image multiple times but seems to still be singing about the heartbreaks she wrote of when she was a teen. According to reporter Amy Zimmerman, there is nothing too new in terms of content, but she does claim that Swift makes an impressive turn in image, intentionally growing up at the same pace as her fans. While she used to be the awkward teen with no friends, now she calls upon the “Tumbler” aesthetic, writing moody, quirky, and ruthless messages into her songs that are pointedly against those who believe they are in power; she sings for the underdogs. According to Vox, Swift is doing the same sort of shapeshifting with “You Need to Calm Down.” Now that Pride month is relevant to her fans, it seems she has finally taken a stand against “the system.”
While it may seem that Taylor Swift exposes a multitude of her enemies on her album “Reputation,” it seems she is drawing upon the notion of the “underdog” to remain relevant: Her actual strategy. Leah Donnella at NPR writes of the difficulty in relating to some of Taylor Swift’s songs because they are all about her in a very lyrically specific way. This points to the idea that Swift might actually see herself as the underdog now, because she is misreading what the fans are saying. Donnella also writes of what makes Taylor Swift so sustainable; she makes people believe that what they are feeling, no matter how slight, can be equivalent to the worst turn of events. She validates feelings and people love her for it. So while the public largely finds her feuds irrelevant, she seems to be trying to highlight the ferocity of inner emotion. Guardian notices in an interview with Swift, that her career seems to be a journey of trying to figure out what people want from her. According to Snapes, Swift recognizes that her “white privilege” has allowed her the ability to be so complacent while injustices swirl around her. She also notes that women do receive an onslaught of backlash in the music industry; she feels as though she is denied the space to learn, to express herself, and to grow more so than a man would be because of the inherently sexist nature of the industry.
Rejecting the premises