Taylor Swift came onto the pop country scene with her self-titled album in 2006, fresh-faced and sweet. I remember hearing “Our Song” on the radio on the way to second grade — since that day, Taylor Swift has been inescapable.
Her rise to pop princess was fast and powerful. Album after album, she transfixed America’s kids and teens, getting airtime on every pop and country station there was. Some would argue that she has never truly descended, but to me, Taylor Swift began to come down with 2017’s “reputation.”
As of June 14, Taylor Swift has released two singles from her upcoming album “Lover,” teased to be released August 23. The latest track “You Need to Calm Down” is being promoted and spoken about as an “ally anthem” for pride month. Although, it’s borderline queer-baiting, if anything.
I have nothing truly personal against Taylor Swift and I understand her fans are loud and proud, which doesn’t bother me. However, my observations have cemented Taylor Swift as a fake-woke snake within the scope of my perception. I’m sure she’s not all bad, but “You Need to Calm Down” doesn’t help my thoughts of her.
The music video for the song is rumored to have an all-star cast, including the cast of Queer Eye and RuPaul. Katy Perry, who fell out with Swift a couple years ago, is also allegedly appearing in the video. Fans have been buzzing on Twitter and Tumblr to express their excitement, going as far as to speculate a make-out session between Swift and Perry.
As a white, straight, cis-gendered woman, Swift is attempting to be an ally, but with her audience, a song like this puts too much attention on the star herself in order to be successful on a wide scale. People are assuming she’s gay now, even though the lyrics explicitly address her friends and the people around her.
This queer-baiting is likely unintentional, but the fan buzzing fallout of the track proves more socially relevent than the song itself. There’s nothing wrong with gay representation in the media or straight people making it clear that they support the LGBTQIA+ community.
The issues arise when a star begins to profit off fans’ speculation regarding their sexuality. Fans aren’t exclusively streaming this song to support the alliance, they’re analyzing the song for signals that Swift herself is gay. This comes along with the branding of Swift’s upcoming album “Lover,” which is all rainbow everything.
By creating this type of buzz, Swift is leaching off the LGBTQIA+ community.
I don’t think Swift is being actively malicious, nor do I think “You Need to Calm Down” is an entirely disgraceful song. However, I think Swift’s branding needs some criticism and attention. Since I’m not a Taylor Swift fan, I’ve always been critical of her and her intentions. I’ve always come to the same conclusion: as she began to move away from the country genre, she took it upon herself to do what will get the most attention. In 2017, it was an edgy image. In 2019, it’s all gay everything.
Swift made a shallow attempt at a Pride anthem and for anyone beside her fans, I think she largely failed.