Last month, I walked to the bus stop listening to Taylor Swift telling me to shake it off. And, mildly surprised, I found myself feeling guilty about it.
Recently, the name Taylor Swift has brought to mind much more than boyfriends and teardrops on guitars. If you’re not up-to-date on the ongoing drama between her and Kanye West, just a quick Google search will put enough articles at your disposal, articles looking at different points of view, evaluating issues from race supremacy to the exact number of fallings out Swift has experienced (and the outfits she was wearing when she did). Some writers seem to have taken a relish in providing a timeline of events for the Swift-West feud, whilst others gleefully demand whose side you’re on.
Taylor or Kanye, right or… not right, people certainly have divided over this. Sometimes it’s over the core problem (e.g. Taylor Swift allegedly lying, or Kanye West recording their phone call). Other times, people derive further issues (e.g. both Swift’s and West’s personas, or whether Swift is easily forgiven because of her skin colour). It’s not exactly surprising that details of their affairs would reach the general public and be discussed in detail. Even less surprising is that people would be quick to proclaim their own opinions on the matter. Even in my mostly indifferent state, I have an opinion.
Everyone on the internet after a celebrity messes up (© Disney | via Giphy)
But what some people seem to forget is that their debates concern actual people, not just famous names. Imagine meeting someone in the workplace that you don’t quite get along with. You rarely interact with them, but keep up with their progress at work. At their first mistake, would you jump up and shoot them down with a barrage of insults? That seems to be – more or less – the norm these days.
Out of idle curiosity, I scrolled through a few articles about the growing Swift-West feud. The end of the articles inevitably led to the start of the comment sections, and some of the comments I saw were horrifying. On one hand, people criticising Kanye West and his songwriting. On the other, calling Taylor Swift a snake and insulting everything from her voice to her dancing. On both sides, spewing insults and judgements like they weren’t dealing with real people with real feelings.
They have feelings… and so do snakes! (© Disney | via Giphy)
Sure, Taylor Swift and Kanye West are probably not scrolling through these comments with tears in their eyes. But just because they might never see the hate doesn’t make it okay. Since when did people’s fame give others an excuse to follow, judge and pry into their every move?
This post isn’t meant to be defending any particular side. This is just something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and thought I’d put down on paper (or screen) to get it off my mind. I’m aware that Taylor Swift and Kanye West both have different reputations, based on a number of factors. I also realise that both have made mistakes. I’m not very familiar with Kanye West to begin with, but this whole issue has put some of Swift’s actions in a different light. I was listening to her song Innocent a while ago, and a condescension and pity I hadn’t noticed before hit me hard.
“It’s okay, life is a tough crowd,” Swift sings in the song written about none other than Kanye West. “Who you are is not what you’ve been.”
And yet, after similarly writing songs about people in her life, Swift herself asks to be excluded from a narrative she never wanted to be a part of. So apparently, she’s a hypocrite, a liar, a scammer, a fake.
Or maybe she’s a human who’s made some mistakes. Just like Kanye West.
Yesterday morning, Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off came on again. And this time, I sung along.