When Celebrities Screw Up // Taylor Swift, teenage girls and the damage we do.
“We shouldn’t be gleeful at Taylor Swift’s downfall, we should be sad. Crestfallen. Taylor Swift fucked it.”
Before I start I feel that I should clarify that this blog won’t be speculating about whether or not Taylor Swift and her legal team have or have not been up to some bizarrely underhand things, nor is it going to be a defence of her actions. This is, after all, not really about her.
I was a long term Taylor Swift fan- like really long term. I’ve liked her music ever since back in the Teardrops On My Guitar phase, which would have made me about 11 years old when I first discovered her. I’ve lived from one end of her demographic to somewhere near the other, and when 1989 came out she was legitimised as a bona fide pop superstar. You could like her openly without it being seen as ‘girly disney rubbish’. Things only got better, with her being a relatable, quirky figure who went out of her way to surprise and send gifts to as many fans as possible. She seemed great, nice- a role model for young women who was unwilling to let the media decide what her image was going to be for her.
Somewhere along the line things took a nasty turn, and now Taylor Swift has had her public image transformed by a series of accusations that she’s been chasing a number of legal battles, most notably a claim that she was not okay with Kanye West’s song ‘Famous’ when there’s video footage that seemingly attests to the contrary (though there is some nuance in the nature of the song that was written and released). Then there is the frankly bizarre relationship she has struck up with Tom Hiddleston, which leaves even those of us who are determined not to comment on her personal life a little baffled.
It feels like her reputation has been destroyed almost overnight and the internet is loving every second of it. It seems pretty difficult to deny at this point that Taylor Swift has been up to something more than a little shady- ‘snaky’ is the word being tossed around. It seems fair that people should be calling her out for behaviour that is straight-up uncool, but should we really be getting so much delight out of it?
Taylor Swift’s demographic is overwhelmingly teenage girls and young women- a group who are repeatedly torn down for the things they enjoy. Taylor Swift had a long uphill battle to be seen as anything more than a catty serial-dater who writes bitter songs about her exes and now it feels like things are back to step one except now she is apparently also a liar and money-hungry too. For the people who weren’t fans in the first place, this is excellent news.
“Ha ha!” they cry. “Look, she was awful all along and I was never fooled! Stupid children!”
This sort of thing is the reason why so many young women will jump to her defence. They have found something that they thought was good and it turns out it’s not all it’s cracked up to be and they want it back, desperately. They aren’t being allowed an opportunity to grieve and are instead being mocked and derided for liking what was really fairly lighthearted pop-country music. They probably know that she did something wrong, but how are you supposed to even comprehend the fact that something that they invested so much time and so many emotions in isn’t actually all that great whilst everyone is laughing at you? It feels like an attack. It is an attack. We shouldn’t be gleeful at Taylor Swift’s downfall, we should be sad. Crestfallen. Young women have lost something that finally could be taken seriously. Taylor Swift fucked it.
Teenage girls don’t deserve this at all. They deserve our understanding, our sympathy, not our derision. Maybe this is the end of her glory days, but we shouldn’t be celebrating.