I’ve been thinking about the Taylor Swift vs. Kanye West thing. Well actually, I’ve been replaying the Mass Effect trilogy on my Xbox, and I had to do something while sitting through all those long-ass load times. Anyway, after much thought on the subject, I have come to the following conclusion: I am confused.
Not about the details; I’ve got all those. I mean, I know what’s happening.
What confuses me is the reaction the internet seems to be having to the controversy. It seems rather celebratory, and I’m not sure why. Taylor Swift got caught in a lie, which sent certain corners of the web into paroxysms of joy.
“WE DID IT! AFTER ALL THIS TIME, WE FINALLY GOT HER!”
Which is great! Um, great?
Look, a lot of people despise Taylor Swift, and they’ve done so waaaay before any of this shit happened, for all sorts of reasons. In fact, if I had to guess, I’d bet that a lot of the most vocal Tay-haters developed that hate the very first time they saw her face, years and years ago. Further, I suspect that, when they first got a look at her, they frowned deeply and said to themselves, “Ugh, I hate that b****.” I’d guess they make up no small portion of the folks currently doing victory laps around social media, like they killed Moby Dick. At last, Swift’s reign of terror is over!
There are also a lot of people who like Taylor Swift (for some reason). As with many fans of things, their love is unshakable, able to withstand almost any dirty secret that might come to light about their idol. If it were revealed that Swift had, oh I don’t know, let’s say slit more throats than Sweeney Todd and and knows what her own ass tastes like, her hardcore fans would probably just roll with it. They don’t seem to be upset that she lied — they seem more upset that people are being “mean” about her.
My point is, when it’s all said and done, has anything changed? The people that hate her will continue to hate her. The people who love her will continue to love her. The people who don’t care will continue to not care. We’re back where we started. There’s a lot of talk about her “facade of innocence” and concern about whether her image is “tarnished,” but the only people who seem to care are people with think-pieces to sell.Surely everyone else in the world is well aware of the fact that there’s really no such thing as an innocent adult.
I suppose anyone who is a fan of both West and Swift will have to choose because, wait a minute of course they don’t, that’s not how life works. I mean yeah, W+S’s friends will have to choose sides, but their fans sure as hell don’t — unless they like getting into flame wars with strangers.
Oh. Oh, that’s too bad.
Maybe the whole point of this is to have something to fight about. Something that can never be resolved, but just repeats itself over and over again. Move after move after move, and but the board always ends up back in the same position. But what a marvelous distraction, eh?
I think I’ll stick with video games.
UPDATE: Some further thoughts.
Or rather, a restatement, since I was (as usual) quite sloppy in the previous portion of this post.
I think the Tay-haters believe that Swift’s fans are idiots living in a fool’s paradise that’s built around Swift’s supposed innocence. They believe that paradise has now been demolished by the evidence that Swift is a liar. But that’s not how fandom works. Fans are generally all-in, fully invested people, and they are capable of incredible feats of mental gymnastics and self-serving doublethink. And the haters know this because, of course, they are fans of things themselves, and of course they know that for all their assertions that Swift has been “destroyed” the fact is that nothing much has changed. That’s what I found confusing.
But I’ve since thought of a couple of explanations that might fit. Dedicated hate is very similar to the love felt by fandom, in that the emotion is more intense than it seemingly should be. When your hero sneezes, it’s an act of brilliance. When your hate-object blinks, it’s an outrageous act of deepest malice. And when your hate-object gets caught doing something that’s actually bad (like, I don’t know, LYING) it must feel incredibly validating (like getting “hella” added to the dictionary).
The other explanation has to do with in/out group thinking, and the general tendency human beings have to see out-group members as interchangeable, which tends to lead people to feel that punishing one member is just as good as punishing any other. But… that’s a fraught line of inquiry that I don’t feel capable of addressing in a nuanced way at the moment, so I’ll leave it at that.
In the end though, I do wish this whole thing involved three less irritating celebs, as I feel I would enjoy the show more, but whatever.