Why Is Taylor Swift So God-Damn Problematic?

Post Originally Published: October 25th, 2017


No really though? Why?

I Want to like Taylor Swift.

And I used to. Swift made music for girls and women like me: hopeless romantics, idealists who sway back and forth between daydreams and passion. Her songs were the pages of our diaries, the multidimensional layers of our hearts set to melody.

But Taylor Swift is difficult to root for.

Almost on purpose too.

Swift declined to own her feminism until it became convenient for her. Until after she realized that in the big leagues – where not everyone always adores the quirky girl you once were – the world is harsh, judgemental, overcritical, and unforgiving of women with too much confidence.

Taylor, ever the opportunist, only dons feminism as a shield against her detractors – both present and would-be. It’s dishonest and selfish; paradoxical when her songs seemed so devastatingly real and truthful. Still, at the time she was young and ambitious, and her was music so good that it was easy to forgive her reluctance to wear the label.


It was easy to overlook all of Taylor’s missteps and calculation as long as she delivered the romance.

As she matured and mocked herself (Blank Space), defended herself (Shake It Off), came for her “frenemies” (Bad Blood), the Taylor Swift ride continued to thrill. You could hate, but you couldn’t exactly deny her range. Everything she put out was remarkably reflective of her audience. She had us. We related to the passion, the judgments, the betrayal.

Isn’t the core purpose of art to connect, and reflect?

And didn’t Taylor Swift do that consistently for something like a decade?


Women have many sides. We’re living through countless battles and fantasies, all the time.

Whether feminist or romantic, most women just want to be heard through the distortion and production and layered storytelling. Why are our stories so hidden, begging to be deciphered? I don’t know, maybe because society has been putting women in boxes for so long that everyday really is “like a battle.”

Most women I know don’t enjoy being boxed in. Except we sometimes have to build own boxes – our safety zones for retreat when the world is too much. Taylor also made her own box, and like a cat she kept jumping back inside it.

The Victim Narrative

Being a victim is comfortable, sometimes. But it’s also boring, exhausting, and unrealistic and no one can ever not being in the wrong that often. It’s just not possible.

I was with Taylor up until she turned on Kimye. I’m a pop culture junkie. Reading celebrity blogs, articles new and old, devouring the wikipedia pages of famous people and their famous relatives is one of my absolute favorite past times.

I was here for Taylor’s messes – if only peeking through from the sidelines. I never read the full Rolling Stone article, or the Vanity Fair piece, or Vogue, or any other interview she’s given. Taylor’s interviews are boring and watered down versions of her music.

You get the impression that under no circumstances will Taylor Swift ever completely reveal herself.

There’s a certain appeal to that, an allure. It makes you want to know. And perhaps it’s necessary for some stars to maintain the mystery for their brand. With Taylor Swift though it just comes off as highly orchestrated duplicity.

That’s unfortunate. Because it isn’t like we don’t all know Swift is capable of greatness. She’s an undeniable pop powerhouse. If she wants attention (bitches love attention) she can get it in a second. If she wants to disappear she’s equally adept.

The appeal of celebrities like Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, and Madonna is in their perceived invincibility.

They’re beautiful, stunning, gorgeous, talented, successful, and they rebound from their woes with enviable, seemingly superhuman strength. But we’re all human here. Just girls in a world that for the last few centuries has been largely against us, only begrudgingly more accommodating of our versatile essence, and only through defiance and force. Still, every now and again Piers Morgan will attempt to police one of our personal choices.


Taylor Swift’s determination is admirable.

I’m always going to be here for a strong woman who knows what she wants, going after her dream, letting that ambition run her, cashing them checks. Always here for it.

But hard pass on the blame-gaming. Hard pass on the extra pretense.

Yeah, the world is shit on girls and women. Yes, the media dissects celebrities and works hard for their potential downfall – women more than men. But so what? You push through it and you create more and you create better. You keep upping the ante. You don’t revert to the same tired bag of tricks.

Can Taylor Swift create anything representative of personal evolution?

Or is this just who she is now, who she’s always been? Initially, Look What You Made Me Do did nothing for me. I gave it a few views and moved on. The ending was amusing enough, good old theater kid Taylor dressed up as herself poking fun at herself.

But overall the entire thing was too extra. She couldn’t possibly be that angry for getting caught in a lie. She couldn’t really feel that aggressive or dark at being called out for engaging in a game she actually loves. Surely, no one makes Taylor Swift do anything.

So what are we looking at here? What exactly did Kimye and the media make her do? Throw her wealth and winnings in our face? Show us her darker side? Not actually. A) the world already knew Taylor could be shady. B) wearing zombie prosthetics and saying the old Taylor is dead is not dark, girl.

Also, if Taylor really wanted to come for Kimye, really get under their skin, perhaps she could’ve invited Beyonce on the track for a feature/cameo instead of ripping off Queen B’s formation, then sending the video director to deny as much… ijs

Adding to all the ways Look What You Made Do misses its mark, is that after five+ years of not-so coded songs about exes and enemies, the gag is up. The world knows that Taylor wont actually spill any real tea. We don’t even want her tea anymore; we know it’s poisoned.

The pop majority’s rejection of Swift’s innocence has forced her to drop the act.

That’s what we made her do. Reputation looks like a turning point in Swift’s career, but only in its album art. People respond to realness. If Taylor, for one album, got inside of herself and found an honest part of her life experience (that wasn’t about a lover, or a catty feud) to give listeners, and quit reusing the same tropes ad nauseam, maybe her art could elevate.

Switching melodies, but not the lyrical narrative seems like a sure road to stagnation – which if her lyrics are to be believed, Swift is much too clever for. But is she as clever as she thinks? Will Reputation bring us something new, honest, or even meaningful?

Can Taylor Swift pull off a reinvention and revelation akin to Madonna’s Ray of Light, and Beyonce’s Lemonade?

Is she actually made of anything other than entitlement and witty jabs? Or is she just fucking problematic?


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