Two nights ago, I was in bed at 11:25pm when Jonathan Cheban’s Instagram so generously encouraged me to watch Kim Kardashian’s Snapstory – a habit I, coincidentally, had recently dropped. You know when you’re watching a video of something terrible, and it takes you a solid four seconds to realize what you’re watching, and then you freak out? Well, that was me in my un-air conditioned apartment, sweating for reasons more than one.
As “jack,” someone with a cool Tumblr, has put it, this is “the wildest pop culture beef this decade… (and it all happened in the space of a few hours !).” Kim released the videos; Taylor made an Instagram statement; Selena tried to get involved, and epically failed; Katy Perry giggled from the sidelines; Chloe Grace Moretz, in an awfully public attempt to earn her spot in the #squad, takes Taylor’s side; and Justin Bieber, who is really fucking stoned I think, tries to put peace back into the world.
There are certain “facts” that draw us to justifiable conclusions like “let’s all hate Taylor Swift”: In Taylor’s Instagram statement this morning, she claimed her issue was that Kanye never made it clear she would be referred to as a “bitch; yet in her Grammy speech, she explicitly stated she was upset by the fact that someone else took responsibility for her fame. Further: Taylor called this “character assassination,” which raises questions of whether we have, or curate, characters for that we must maintain. And what about the fact that Taylor has racked up an extra few million for all the times we listened to “Dear John” on repeat, ceaselessly hoping to discover new evidence that the song was, in fact, about John Mayer? She assassinated many characters. You might know some of them. Harry Styles, Jake Gyllenhaal, Taylor Lautner (#tbt).
Emily Nussbaum said it brilliantly on Twitter: “She didn’t explain what actually happened & her speech feels very different now.”
The closest thing we’ve ever seen to this is the last third of Mean Girls, where Cady Heron tells Janice Ian for the millionth time that Regina George, sans hair, would look like a British man. Then, lover boy Aaron Samuels turns on her and she’s basically uninvited to the spring fling. For some reason, I am consistently and oddly satisfied with the new tornado that becomes Cady’s life, over and over again.
Taylor Swift is Cady Heron, and Kanye West is Regina George in a back brace.
I have never met Taylor Swift, and I have no reason to feel threatened by her. I think it’s safe to say we will never date. Furthermore, though I am neither tall, beautiful, nor famous enough to be in her #squad, I am potentially white and average enough to have been the “red-headed Abigail” she croons about in “Fifteen.” If anything, young white women like me are the closest thing Taylor might ever have to an ally.
But I hate her. And maybe I hate her because she is wrong, and maybe that is enough. The thing, though, is that because of social media, we will never know if she isactually wrong. At this point, there are probably more conspiracy theories involving Taylor Swift than there are regarding JFK or, like, the Illuminati. We will never know what real conversations Taylor and Kim and Kanye are having – unless Kim Snapstories them, of course. We will never know what bombs are carefully planned and scheduled to drop and which ones arrive in Taylor Swift’s inbox just as shockingly as they do in ours.
It scares me that we don’t know the motive or the end goal; that we don’t really know or understand what Taylor wants from us. We’re all dying to uncover the truths of Taylor Swift more than we are the truths of the military coup in Turkey, and isn’t that kind of crazy?
The ripple effects of this event are multifold; it is the beginning of the end of Taylor Swift. Maybe it isn’t quite Taylor’s Sinéad O’Conor pope-ripping moment, but it’s the closest she’s come. It’s sensory overload. It’s Kim Kardashian, who is famous for being a person, affecting the way I view her often-misogynistic musical genius of a husband in a relatively good way. It’s holding all celebrities more accountable for speaking out – Selena Gomez, over Twitter, encouraged the media to focus on more important things, when neither she nor Swift are yet to comment about the horrific murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
So, as a feminist, as a die-hard Kanye fan, as someone who knows how to play a handful of Taylor Swift songs on acoustic guitar, and as someone very much glued to the holy trinity of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, what am I supposed to think? I think I hate hating Taylor Swift, because I wish I didn’t care at all.