In the not so distant past, Taylor Swift was the media’s darling. There was rarely an article that put her in a bad light. I remember headlines praising her for some new dress she wore to some party. She was always congratulated for her new found love after some man did wrong by her. If other articles didn’t gush about her music, they’d compliment her on how she empowered women. She had a well crafted image of a likeable, pretty, successful woman.
Sometime in 2015, however, her sweet reign turned sour. Perhaps it started with Harry Styles. It then evolved into writers picking at her selective brand of white feminism or her careless interview statements. Then Kanye West dropped his Famous song, and Taylor Swift accepted her Grammy with the infamous speech that ruffled Kanye and Kardashian feathers, and the tide turned. In July of this year, the media seemed to stage an all out coup to overthrow royalty. Taylor Swift was unwittingly giving them fodder—her brief spat with Nikki Minaj over twitter, another one with her now ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris, and her final little quarrel with the Kardashian-Wests, the media was cashing out their trust fund baby. For one so accustomed to using media coverage to her advantage, Taylor Swift seems to have made some irreversible judgement calls. You know the story better than I do—the hashtag #KimExposedTaylorParty says it all.
I’m not particularly a fan of the vapid Taylor Swift (besides occasionally humming along to her unbelievably catchy songs, and I’ll admit I followed her style when she wore 50s inspired clothing). I never particularly liked her, but the sudden torrent of hate seems odd to me. How does an entire sector of society so eager to sing your praises rapidly turn against you almost overnight? It seems so abrupt. I theorise that the general public had finally had its fill of Taylor Swift happy times, the media caught on, and gave the readers what they wanted—a takedown.
I often forget that an entertainment journalist’s job is primarily to get readers to read. Credibility and integrity fall to the wayside. Speculation is encouraged, and labelled as harmless. The fact that I can’t count how many times I’ve clicked a fake JK Rowling writes another Harry Potter book link is embarrassing experiential evidence of this. These writers pattern their headlines, their articles, their entire brand from the wants of their audience. Want drama? Sure, we can do that! New Harry Potter book? We’ll pull up an old interview! Click here even if we’d already released this little piece of information about Fantastic Beasts! We’ll pretend it’s new. (Alright, maybe I’m a little bit sore about all this Harry Potter stuff but hey we have a new book!)
The late Paul Kalanithi wrote in When Breath Becomes Air, “A sigh, and Earth continued to rotate back towards the Sun.” I suppose it’s a great illustration of the truth: Taylor Swift’s reputation will heal, and the West-Kardashians will survive to create more drama. All will settle down and we’ll move on. The media? They’re cashing out. They call the shots. They make the narrative. They win. And perhaps I think that’s not entirely ethical, but that’s just my opinion. Mine is just a shout into the void.