Taylor Swift’s Stale and Unsweetened Lemonade

MTV screenshot
MTV screenshot

From Kellyanne Conway and Tomi Lahren to the whole “53 percent of y’all voted for Darth Cheeto” thing, this has not been a particularly good year for white women. Collectively, they’ve undergone a bit of a cultural reckoning, as there has never been a hotter spotlight on their role in propagating, nurturing and fighting to maintain white supremacy. Even those who claim to be allies are becoming progressively less immune to criticism for their tone-deafness and their tendency to center themselves and their feelings over everything.


Perhaps most emblematic of this particular type of conspicuous whiteness is Taylor Swift, who last year revealed herself to be 1) a fraud and 2) a fraud eager to take advantage of the interminable benefit of the doubt her white-womanness and celebrity provide to throw a black person (Kanye West) under the bus. I talked about this last year:

No one is better at this type of specifically White female performative faux melodrama—where status is cultivated and maintained through a state of perpetual exaggerated victimhood (which everyone laps up because “sad White woman” = “Let’s find our fucking capes and save her!”)—than she is.

You know that co-worker (let’s call her “Susan”) who somehow managed to use her offense at a minor breach in email etiquette (someone forgot to put an exclamation point on a sentence, which made Susan “interpret” it as a “threat”) as fuel for a raise and a promotion?

Taylor Swift is Darth Susan.

“Look What You Made Me Do,” the first single off of her upcoming Reputation, reiterates this theme, referring to a totally not-mysterious-at-all “you” while ensconcing itself in victimhood like a top sheet smothered by appropriated throw pillows. It’s as if her grade of uncut whiteness is so bright that it’s blinding her gaslighting ass to the fact that we have receipts. We know who you are, Taylor. We don’t believe you anymore. You need more people.

Adding insult to Beckery is the preview for the yet-to-be-released video accompanying the single. Which, when considering the subject matter, would seem to be a clear allusion to Beyoncé’s Lemonade. In a vacuum, this wouldn’t be an issue. Artists borrow from and exist as muses for one another all the time. Shit, just yesterday I borrowed a plate of cheese from Samantha Irby. (I didn’t, actually. But I’m sure Samantha has awesome cheeses.)

But when your single is a reference to that time you lied on that black guy to elicit sympathy and then got mad and sad that everyone saw through to your Regina George core, borrowing your visuals from a personal paean to black women ain’t the best look. But I guess Kanye made her do that, too.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)


KC Complains A Lot

I just wonder what she thought was gonna happen when she released this still.

Did she think no one would see the clear allusion to Beyonce? Did she think having black AND white people would make it less obvious?

Moreover, can Taylor Swift right a song in which she is not the perpetual victim being prosecuted by someone who has wronged her? Her image is one of strength, but her tone in always one of “I got screwed and this is my whiny revenge”.

Her only message is “fuck my haters”, which keeps her in a state of never sounding like a grown up, even when her tone “matures”. Katy Perry is fucking awful, but at least she has the occasional inspirational song that’s insipid and stupid but you catch yourself singing in the car because damn it, I DO FEEL LIKE A PLASTIC BAG SOMETIMES!

Taylor exists in a world of negativity, a world where constant “clapbacks” on “people who have wronged her” isn’t called out for being as empty, soulless and brain dead as it is, because we live in a world where being a rich, millionaire white lady is hard, but going from nothing in Chicago to being one of the most influential artists of all time is nothing, all because he got a little drunk and told the truth about how Taylor’s song sucked and “Single Ladies” is fucking iconic.

The TL;DR is Taylor Swift makes me side with Kanye West and that makes her trash.