I don’t like Taylor Swift.
I think her songs are mostly overrated, I think she’s not particularly musically talented and I definitely think she’s benefited a lot from white female fragility in the pop culture scene. I think she’s problematic in a very typical-white-female-pop-star kind of way where accusations of cultural appropriation and racism glide off her back because her public relations game is on point — she’s either America’s darling or a “bad bitch” who’s embraced the snake emoji a little too much on any given day.
So the straits must be dire when I, of all people, think that Taylor Swift is doing good things.
Taylor Swift opened the 2018 American Music Awards with a grand performance of “I Did Something Bad” from her latest album Reputation, complete with fire blasts and her giant stage snake (it makes sense in context), to cheers and applause. Over the course of the evening, she won four awards: Best Tour, Best Pop/Rock Album, Best Pop/Rock Female Artist and Artist of the Year. In addition to the accolades, Swift broke the record for the AMA’s most awarded female artist with a total of 22 trophies.
While I’m not pleased that she defeated Whitney Houston’s record, I have to admit — Taylor Swift is popular. She has 112 million followers on Instagram. She has the privilege of an extremely wide-reaching platform with the ability to sway thoughts and opinions one way or the other. Taylor has been pretty on and off about using this ability, however. In 2017, she was named among the “Silence Breakers” in Time's Person of the Year article for speaking out about her sexual assault. Earlier that year, however, Taylor Swift had come under fire for her Women’s March tweet where she supported the march but did not participate in it. She was a feminist when it benefited her, but not when it could lose her fans.
And how things have changed. Taylor Swift was rather infamously silent during the 2016 election cycle and now here she is, stealing the hearts of liberals everywhere with her endorsement of Democratic candidates in Tennessee in what is shaping up to be a rather critical election.
Maybe I’m being picky when I say that it might have been more helpful to post this on Instagram a bit earlier so her fans had more time to register. I also wouldn’t credit her with the last minute increase in voter registration when so many volunteers spent hours of work doing the same thing. But at this point, I don’t even care. Taylor Swift did something good.
The fact that carefully nonpartisan Taylor Swift is getting “political” is a testament to these turbulent times. People must participate in our democracy as much as they conceivably can. I believe it is especially important for celebrities — who aren’t obligated to use their platforms for these issues — to be political even at the expense of losing album sales.
For once, Taylor Swift and I are in agreement. I’m not about to start jamming out to her tunes, but on Nov. 6, I hope to see everyone at the polls. It’s what Taylor Swift would want you to do.