April 2016: International superstar Taylor Swift gives Vogue a tour of her Los Angeles mansion. “What do you think is the most important life lesson for someone to learn?” inquires the reporter. Swift replies sagely that “karma is real.” Three months later, as a decade’s worth of backlash catches up to her, it would appear that Swift spoke truth. Karma is real, indeed.
In the past 36 hours, the internet has been inundated with reports of Taylor Swift’s demise. Keyboards crumble under the strength of a thousand frantic fingers as commoners and celebrities alike strive to share their obituaries of the ego that once dwarfed a nation. Since the release of 1989, Swift has dominated media with a calculated image rebranding, altering her reputation from that of a boy-crazy harpy to that of a charitable mogul and feminist. She has surrounded herself with powerful female friends, dated handsome British men, and strutted as though she holds the world on a string. However, in the midst of her self-satisfaction, Swift forgot the cardinal rule of fame: never go up against a Kardashian when publicity is on the line.
After breaking the internet in 2014 with an extremely saucy photo, Kim Kardashian West revived her powers of media magnetism with a series of Snapchat videos that revealed an unflattering portrait of Swift. Kanye West is seen reciting a controversial line from his song Famous: “For all my Southside n*ggas that know me best, I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex.” The line is met with approval from Swift, who describes it as very “tongue in cheek” and assures him that she is on board. Swift apparently goes on to tacitly approve the ensuing line, “I made that b*tch famous,” a reference to the 2009 VMA incident. West himself does not recite the line in the video, a technicality that Swift has desperately clung to as she attempts to defend herself.
Spectators have rejoiced at Swift’s downfall. The hashtag #kimexposedtaylorparty erupted across social media as millions praised Kim Kardashian’s PR prowess – first by teasing the public with the idea of this elusive video, then by dropping it on Snapchat. The world has been led to the Kardashian-Wests’ corner, abandoning the once-glamorous retinue of Taylor Swift, America’s sweetheart and perpetual victim.
This final moniker has proven to be Swift’s hamartia. After ten years, we are tired of the tale of a downtrodden outcast struggling to make her way in the world. In response to the scandal, Swift bemoaned her current predicament, stating that she “would very much like to be excluded from this narrative” of Kimye versus the world. It is a hollow defence when Swift’s own hypocritical cruelty is considered. She has built an empire on writing about the personal lives of her ex-boyfriends, taking obvious pleasure in calling them out by name in her songs and interviews – likely without the courtesy of a phone call first.
Men are not the only ones who find themselves victimised by Swift’s passive-aggressive oversharing tactics. Actress Camilla Belle once fell into Swift’s crosshairs when she committed the crime of dating Swift’s ex-boyfriend Joe Jonas. For her sins, she was targeted in the 2010 song Better Than Revenge, in which Swift mocks her for “stealing other peoples’ toys on the playground” and snidely remarks that she is well-known for “the things that she does on the mattress.” More recently, Bad Blood chronicles Swift’s feud with singer Katy Perry, who did nothing but offer her own dancers a spot on her tour; the dancers then left Swift’s tour of their own volition, much to Swift’s evident fury.
Swift hides within the guise of feminism to escape criticism, a tactic utilised when she attacked Nicki Minaj for commenting on racism in the music industry. Additionally, having written a song that describes a music critic as “a liar, and pathetic, and alone in life,” Swift is the posterchild for an immature egomaniac, her personality twisted by an arrogance oft found in the spoiled and the young.
Her personal failings aside, Swift undeniably possesses a talent for curating her own living, breathing brand. Even as countless media outlets eagerly record her humiliation, she is certainly plotting her return to our good graces, unfettered by the maledictions slung her way. We may soon discover that this entire narrative has been a social experiment, a ruse that would make Joaquin Phoenix weep tears of pride.
So together, we may await the next episode of Kimye versus Taylor. Featuring character development, plot twists, a new villain and a killer soundtrack, it will not be one to miss.