The recent Super Bowl game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs left a lot of football fans enraged. For one, the loss of the 49ers was devastating to Niners Nation, but what seemed to be even more rousing than the game itself, were the people attending. Two culprits immediately come to mind: Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift. Honestly, I’m not a very big football fan — I come from a country where the right football is “soccer” — but even I was annoyed by the insane screen time Taylor Swift received for attending a game that featured her boyfriend. Kelce’s behaviour on the field aside, a lot of fans found it unacceptable that the hype behind this season’s finale would star a musician, who was in no way the star of this show. Swift’s music aside — because I can assure you that I will be bopping my head to Love Story — she’s quite the shit person (excuse my language). 

Let’s be done with the petty stuff so I can engage with the real issues at hand. I’m still trying to unravel Swift’s blatant disrespect to industry legend Celine Dion, when she didn’t utter as much as a “thank you” while receiving her Grammy award this year. I will fight anyone else who says otherwise. I’ve watched the slow-mo playbacks. Additionally, dragging Lana Del Rey on stage was just a means to assert her supposed dominance over potential threats to her popularity. But, moving on. 

Let’s talk about the most recent Swift news: suing a college student. Taylor Swift’s legal team threatened to sue Jack Sweeney, for his alleged “stalking and harassing behaviour.” Sweeney, who has been tracking Swift’s private jets, has stated that the information he used was all sourced from public databases. Suing a college student is simply unfathomable to me – as a college student myself. But let’s stop focusing on the drama for a second, and look at the content of the issue — namely her excessive contributions to environmental damage. 

Flying from Japan just to attend your boyfriend’s game is neither good for the planet nor is it necessary.  I think we all would have benefited from Swift watching the game from Japan, as it would have cut down on unnecessary footage time and reduced carbon emissions. In 2022, Swift’s private jet alone emitted 1200 times the average US resident’s annual carbon footprint, which, knowing US consumerism, is a feat in itself. Gregory Keoleian, Co-Director of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan estimated that one of Swift’s jets, that she has used to fly 19,400 miles on, could release more than 200,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, which happens to be 14 times the average American household’s annual emissions. And she had a backup plan on standby. Swift’s PR team has justified this through purchasing double the carbon credits required to offset her emissions, but as we all know, the carbon trade system is simply ineffective. Emissions are emissions — no amount of buying or selling changes that. 

This brings me to Taylor Swift’s for-profit advocacy. Swift is regarded to be this extremely woke pop icon, using all the key buzz words: feminism, patriarchy, and intersectionality. But it’s nothing but a facade. Swift’s music, career and tabloid fame were kept alive through her supposedly feminist remarks. However, her hit song Bad Blood is known to be aimed at Katy Perry — which goes against Swift’s “girls support girls” feminism — but again, this is not about her music. 

What I, and many other more experienced and credited feminists, take issue with is how she capitalizes on feminism. While she’s outspoken at all the right conferences and press releases, she has never actually supported feminist institutions such as Planned Parenthood, and feminists such as Rachel Leah condemn Swift’s version of feminism as “self-serving” and “white feminism.” For instance, while she put out tweets condemning the US for turning over Roe v Wade, she never acted on it. Although multiple other celebrities made simple contributions like signing Planned Parenthood petitions, Swift did not extend any simple gestures. For someone who’s so profusely thankful to the fans in Grammy speeches, it doesn’t feel like she really cares about the issues that plague them, and the rest of the globe. And I refuse to believe this is about keeping a neutral PR image or staying civil in the public eye, because Ms. Swift has condemned multiple women, and men on the proverbial stage. 

Additionally, Swift has gotten into multiple controversies for her appropriation and use of Black culture in multiple music videos. In the Blank Space music video, which has been criticised for appropriating Black culture, she saddles up a leopard puffer and lines her face under twerking Black women. And who can forget the Wildest Dreams video, which has weirdly romanticised clips of African landscapes, which was offensive to the colonial history of the country. NPR, amongst other news outlets, put out this statement about the video: ​​”Here are some facts for Swift and her team: Colonialism was neither romantic nor beautiful. It was exploitative and brutal…”

But why is my onslaught focused on Taylor Swift and no other artist? 

This is important because it calls to the age-old question of “Do we separate the art from the artist?” History is rife with problematic artists: Salvador Dali used to assault his wife, Gala, Picasso was known to abuse young women, and most recently, Kanye West has been called out for his anti-semitic behaviour and comments. I take no issue with calling these people out as well. I agree that Kanye West is a horrible person for the things he has said and agree that his statements and behaviours have been unacceptable. Travis Scott is no better, having paid no heed to people dying at his own concert. Nicki Minaj’s public support for known sex offenders is equally horrifying. 

But the point I’m trying to get to is that other celebrities’ actions don’t make Taylor Swift’s any better. We cannot shift the discourse onto a more problematic celebrity every time someone calls out Swift. Accountability must be placed where it’s due. Taylor Swift is in no way, shape, or form a perfect idol, though the idolisation of her has reached a frightening level.  We place so much of our adoration in someone who is completely undeserving of it. With artists such as Kanye West, and Nicki Minaj, we have come to at least acknowledge their deeply (deeply) flawed character – something we struggle to grapple with about Taylor Swift. I acknowledge no artist is perfect, but the Kanye Wests and the Travis Scotts of the world get their (very) fair share of criticism, and fall back . Why should Taylor Swift be any different? While I personally think we should separate the art from the artist (hence the head-bopping to Love Story), I do think we should be accepting of the scrutinisation of Taylor Swift’s actions just as quickly as we would anyone else’s. 


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