Article by Rowan Schaffert and Delaney Fitzgibbon
We love her. We hate her. We are a society divided over a woman and her success. It makes you wonder if the roles were reversed, a man in her place, what would the world say then? If Taylor Swift were a man, then she would be the man.
In case you missed the rise of the most well-known artist of this generation, let us fill you in. Back in 2006, Taylor Swift released her debut album. Since then, Swift has released 10 original studio albums, not including her 4 re-recorded albums. With her popular songs on the rise, an idea for the next tour was needed. But as COVID hit and the world was put on pause, the idea of going back on tour came to a standstill. This standstill, however, led to one of the greatest tour ideas ever known—combining each of the albums into eras that would then be performed. We know this as The Eras Tour. Even with The Eras Tour landing #1 both worldwide and in North America, Swift’s fame continues to be questioned and attacked.
Let’s go back to the part where Kanye made Swift famous. The irony is, that his interruption during the 2009 VMAs did not make her famous. She was already up on the stage receiving an award for the Best Video by a Female Artist for her hit "You Belong with Me." Kanye rudely interrupted her victory speech by claiming Beyonce deserved the award instead; however, despite this offensive act, Swift responded generously by releasing the song “Innocent,” which includes the lyrics, “Your string of lights is still bright to me. Oh, who you are is not where you've been. You're still an innocent,” describing Kanye. He did not give her the same grace in his song “Famous,” where he says, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that b*tch famous.” But as a society, of course, we make sure to give a man credit for her fame and fortune. We must dismiss her hard work and creative lyrics. We must downplay her success and question if she really deserves it at all. Years later, people still claim that the only reason for Swift’s fame is Kanye, despite her undeniable success.
Another roadblock in Swift’s path is the task of rerecording her early music. Many have seen the iconic (Taylor’s Version) behind some of her song titles. Maybe you have watched her rerecordings top the charts after each album’s release; however, not everyone knows the reasoning behind these recordings. Back in 2005, when Swift was only 15 years old, she signed a record deal with Big Machine Records. The terms of this contract unfortunately meant that Big Machine Records owned the original recording of each of her songs. Swift’s first six albums were recorded with Big Machine Records, with each song on the album not belonging to her.
In 2019, Scooter Braun purchased Big Machine Records, and along with it, Swift’s albums. She repeatedly asked to buy the rights to her songs from him, but he refused. Swift was not only upset about the loss of her music, but also the way Braun had treated her previously. Kanye was his client, meaning that he had endorsed all the things Kanye has said and lyrics sung regarding Swift. She expressed her concern saying,
“Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy. Essentially, my musical legacy is about to lie in the hands of someone who tried to dismantle it.”
Swift decided this couldn’t stop her; she would re-record all of her albums belonging to Braun to ultimately own her work. Though all she was trying to do was rightfully own the music she made, people were quick to accuse her of re-recording her albums only for profit.
Now, her role is under scrutiny once again as Swift and Travis Kelce’s relationship becomes public. Many are upset by her appearances during the football games, where Swift is being
called a "distraction." On the other hand, when Travis Kelce attends her concerts, he is praised for being a "supportive boyfriend." While many little girls are simply excited to see their favorite singer while watching football with their Dad, it has surprisingly left many upset and even enraged. Why do you think it is that people are so upset by the sight of Swift, while the appearance of Kelce is so supported?
And I get it, why does this mean anything to me? You see, if one woman in the music industry can be repeatedly treated this way after speaking up with no action taken, what makes you think that it won’t keep happening? You are growing up in a world where saying and doing awful things to someone is easily ignored or brushed aside. But one day, your kids will grow up in this same world, where not even a successful female artist can live without every step being critiqued, mocked, and hated. We have been warned time and time again to treat people with kindness and love because we have no idea what they are going through. Yet, when people are famous, these standards seem to disappear.
We love her. We hate her. We debate over her success stories and her mistakes. But let me remind you, she is human too. With Swift on a societal pedestal, it has become oh-so-easy to say things that should never be said to another person. Her success will speak for itself, and maybe we should each speak a little less.