Look What She Made Me Do // Taylor Swift and Marketplace Feminism
Yes, yes, I know - floods, Nazis, everything is terrible right now. But you’d be forgiven for not being entirely in the loop; as I’m sure you all know, there’s been a recent major international event that’s been permeating our consciousness. Taylor Swift has released a new song!
(Wait guys, there’s more)
Ring the alarms, the world’s gone crazy.
After the relative failures of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga’s latest releases, Taylor Swift is probably the last female popstar standing; by popstar I mean a big name who can basically guarantee a hit, and constantly has trash talking vultures like myself invested in their love lives, feuds and fashions. After a brief dabble in “country,” Swift steered hard into the pop girl persona, ditching her country guitar for pop hooks, not so slyly leaving ~subtle references to famous gentlemen callers in her lyrics, and rebranding feminism with a primarily white girl squad.
We all fell for it. Hook, line and sinker.
Also, at some point she met Kanye West, and somehow both of their lives were irrevocably changed, and they both became emotionally crippled all in the space of about forty seconds.
As her popularity rose, some did her oeuvre, so when she fell from grave, we were living. For like a fortnight. Then did anyone really care? By this point, the US and the UK had both started to go insane - how much time could we really waste on weird, and endless, Taylor Swift feuds. Her songs still got played on the radio; white girls everywhere still squealed in joy every time Shake It Off played in clubs; Katy Perry’s diss track was met with ambivalence rather than demonic glee. Other than the occasional lasting snake emoji, there wasn’t really much lasting impact. As far as “breakdowns” go, this was hardly Bald-Britney bearing an umbrella.
When rumours of her new song started to buzz, we wondered what it could possibly be. The happy days of Shaking It Off are over. RIP 2014, we’re in 2017 now where everything is political and everything is terrible. It is stark, depressing and divided; surely the world's biggest popstar’s first release (especially one whose branding is so #feminist) would be a song to reflect the times. It was, but not in the way we asked for.
Look What You Made Me Do is not an aesthetically pleasing song, and I’m legitimately depressed about how many times I had to listen to it for the goddamn website, so here we fucking go.
In LWYMMD, the all American, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Taylor Swift created a rallying cry against the haters and losers who’ve foiled her, or doubted her, or sent mean tweets to her. She claims not to be able to trust anyone. we can only assume this includes the media filled with “fake news.” Swift spends four minutes blaming “you” for anything that caused her minor fall from grace in the first place and absolving herself of any responsibility. Sure, she may have fucked up, but she’s certainly not going to acknowledge it, or call it by its name. There have been horrible acts on both sides. She “rose up from the dead!” Truly, a shocking victory to everyone (apart from the people who were paying attention.) She’s “harder and stronger” now; she’s not actually showing us how, she’s just telling. Who needs proof right? Her word is gospel There’s a smug, white sense of self-absorption that feels all too familiar.
In the, admittedly brilliant, video, Taylor Swift bathes in diamonds. Is this a post ironic critique - or “clapback,” - of people who criticise her various involvement in litigations and money making schemes? Can it really be an ironic stance if nobody can tell if you’re being ironic, post ironic, or making a point of it? Either way, Taylor Swift is literally bathing in excess, and she wants you to know it - ironically or not.
In the video, Taylor Swift created subtle and not so subtle references to her scandals. From the Kanye feud to the squad criticising, she seems to have a reference to practically every news story that’s invaded her career. Apart from one; other than touting feminism as a branding opportunity, Taylor Swift has been suspiciously quiet about her politics. Admittedly it’s every person's right to stay quiet about who they support, but her latest branding was all about female empowerment and girl squads; feminism is an inherently political stance. You can’t stay out of politics yet use feminism as a marketing tool. The video makes no references to the current political state or to feminism. Meanwhile, Breitbart have been tweeting lyrics to LWYMMD, and rumour has it that neo-nazis positively love this song.
I mean, yeah, admittedly the media has completely fallen for the Swiftian image. We held on to every boyfriend, every boyfriend reference, every squad meet up, every public feud, every instance of victimisation. With glee, we watched the concerts, the music videos, the rallies, the press conferences, the debates - oh wait.
“Look what you made me do,” thinks Donald Trump, as he looks back to the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, cringing at his very public roasting courtesy of Seth Myers and President Obama. Sorry, Seth, he wasn’t running as a joke, he was running as revenge.
LWYMMD is loud, repetitive, derivative (of Britney, Peaches and even Right Said Fred), grating and victimizing. It’s somehow self-aware whilst lacking any introspection. It’s self-absorbed and narcissistic. It’s the perfect anthem for Trump’s America.
We deserve this. We deserve annoying, privileged, white people who are on top of the world, yelling at us that we’ve done them wrong.
Look what we made them do.
(Help us, Carly Rae Jepsen, you’re our only hope)
PS: Taylor released a new song fucking yesterday literally as I finished typing this up. It's hard not to take this as a personal attack. General review; it's hard to take her new "badass" image when her songs literally sound like adverts for Disney / ABC sitcoms.