Why we can all stop hating Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift has a bad reputation. Critics say she’s manipulative, cut-throat, vengeful, even racist, but is she really any of those things?
There are a lot of sides to this superstar, and even though it may feel trendy to hate her, the negativity directed at Swift may be going over the top. Here are just a few reasons why we can all ease up on the Swift shade. (Seriously, it’s getting pretty boring by now.)
She's exceedingly generous
For years, Swift has made efforts to give back in ways big and small. In September 2017, E! News reported that Swift made “a very sizable donation” to a Houston, Texas food bank after the region was devastated by Hurricane Harvey. The Huffington Post reported that after her sexual assault trial, she made a “generous donation” to fellow survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence through pal Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation.
Fuse reported in 2016 that Swift donated $100,000 to Dolly Parton’s telethon to benefit Tennessee wildfire victims; $5,000 to a fan who lost her sister in a car accident; $1 million to Louisiana flood victims; $50,000 to the Baton Rouge Food Bank; a donation to African Parks; and a large tribute gift to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in honor of her godson, actress Jaime King’s son, Leo.
In 2015, Swift donated so much to so many causes that she prompted GoFundMe to increase donation limits on the service.
In 2014, she began a grassroots campaign she referred to as “Swiftmas,” which involved her monitoring her own fans’ social media pages and surprising them with gifts. She even visited one fan at her home and brought gifts for her toddler son.
In 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama honored Swift with the Nickelodeon Big Help Award to recognize her charitable work, reported CMT.
Keep in mind, these are only a few of the good deeds that we know about. There are probably many more that haven’t been publicized.
She uses her music for good
In 2012, Swift released “Ronan,” an iTunes-only single inspired by the Rockstar Ronan blog–a site led by Maya Thompson, whose son passed away from cancer just shy of his fourth birthday. Using lines from Thompson’s blog, Swift composed the incredibly heartbreaking track and donated all the proceeds from the song to Stand Up 2 Cancer.
At the time of this writing, Swift has only performed the song twice–at a 2012 Stand Up 2 Cancer telethon and once during her 1989 tour when Thompson was in the audience. Swift cried both times, and you will too if you tune into this video.
She made a strong statement against sexual assault
When Swift accused Denver DJ David Mueller of groping her after a 2013 meet and greet, he accused her of getting him fired from his job and sued her for $3 million. Swift countersued him for exactly $1 for sexual assault and battery—and won.
Her testimony on the stand was sassy and powerful. When asked “how long” Mueller allegedly grabbed her, she snapped (via E! News): “I don’t think it would be wise to estimate time in court, but I know it was long enough for me to be completely sure that it was intentional… The first couple of milliseconds I thought it must be a mistake, so I moved to the side very quickly so that his side would be removed from my a** cheek, but it didn’t let go.”
Mueller’s lawyer also asked Swift if she thought her security guard, Greg Dent, should have done more in the moment. “What Mr. Mueller did was, like I said, very intentional and the location was very intentional and it happened very quickly and I wasn’t going to blame Greg Dent for something Mr. Mueller did,” Swift replied.
When Mueller’s attorney asked Swift if she was “critical of Dent” for not stopping the alleged groping, she replied, “No, I am critical of your client sticking his hand under my skirt and grabbing my a**.”
She's been lying low
Swift flew under the radar for much of 2016 and 2017, in part because she was self-aware enough to know she was at risk of being overexposed.
“I think I should take some time off,” she told NME in October 2015. “I think people might need a break from me.”
In May 2017, a source told People that Swift was listening to her gut. “Taylor made the conscious choice to disappear,” the insider said. “…She’s being low-key and secretive [right now] because it makes her happy.”
An insider told The Sun in November 2017 that radio silence may be Swift’s M.O. permanently, even if it goes against the wishes of her management team. “Taylor has become overbearingly protective of her image,” the source said. “She doesn’t feel like she needs to do interviews to sell albums anymore. She doesn’t want to have to address issues like her feuds with Katy Perry and Kanye West, so only doing interviews where she has complete control stops that from happening.” The source added, “Her team [isn’t] sure it’s the wisest choice. She just wants the music to do the talking and hopes that will be enough.”
She's assuming some responsibility for her drama
In a few songs on her Reputation album, Swift actually takes responsibility for her role in her life’s various dramas.
In “Call It What You Want,” Swift sings, “And I know I make the same mistakes every time / Bridges burn, I never learn.” She also notes that she “brought a knife to a gunfight,” seemingly indicating that while her various feuds and petty dramatics may have hurt her, she wasn’t prepared for how badly she’d be damaged by the situations she instigated with others. It may be one of the first times since “Back to December” that Swift admits to making any mistakes at all through her music.
In Reputation tracks “I Did Something Bad” and “Getaway Car,” Swift flat-out admits to wrongdoing in relationships. What’s more, in the album liner notes, she–maybe for the first time ever–admits she isn’t perfect.
“We are never just good or just bad,” she writes (via Genius). “We are all a mixture of our selfishness and generosity, loyalty and self-preservation, pragmatism and impulsiveness. I’ve been in the public eye since I was 15 years old. On the beautiful, lovely side of that, I’ve been so lucky to make music for living and look out into crowds of loving, vibrant people. On the other side of the coin, my mistakes have been used against me, my heartbreaks have been used as entertainment, and my songwriting has been trivialized as ‘oversharing.'”
She's an incredible friend
By now, we all know that Swift can hold a grudge. However, if you’re on her good side, well, get ready to get spoiled because she seems like an amazing friend.
Swift served as maid of honor in BFF Abigail Anderson’s wedding, where she gave a speech that seemed to be not only touching, but also funny and maybe even a little cheeky, per Hollywood Life.
She has reportedly looked out for bestie Selena Gomez, too, especially in terms of her relationship with Justin Bieber. Us Weekly reported that Swift isn’t the biggest fan of the Biebs.
Swift showed incredible kindness to Kesha during her legal battle with producer Dr. Luke, donating $250,000 to the “Praying” singer’s legal bills. Kesha called Swift a “f**king sweetheart, telling Rolling Stone, “[She is] very, very sweet, very, very genuine, extremely generous, picks up the phone every time I call her. My mom doesn’t even always pick up the phone!”
Tay Tay is even nice to her rivals: People reported that she sent Cardi B flowers when the rapper beat Swift on the charts, nabbed the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
She's quiet about politics for a reason
Swift enraged many when she didn’t speak out about the 2016 election (though she did vote and tweet about the Women’s March.) She also took heat for not outright denouncing white supremacist groups who idolize her. There may be an explanation for all of this, courtesy of Swift’s pal, the politically active and very vocal Lena Dunham.
“When I was lesser known, I was like, ‘Who could not share their opinion?’ Then I found out that when you talk about politics, people straight up tweet you the floor plan of your house and say they’re coming to your house,” Dunham explained to Rolling Stone. “You have to f**king watch it because people are nuts.” She added, “[Swift has] been in the public eye since she was 15. I felt young when my career started and I was 23, 24. When I met her, she was newly 22, and she was a f**king seasoned pro at this stuff.”
Another Swift friend, Todrick Hall, explained to Yahoo, “Maybe one day, Taylor will start being super-political and using her voice to do the things that people think that she should be doing, but even then, she will probably be ridiculed for not being vocal enough, or not being on the right side.”
She's insecure, like the rest of us
Swift and her team are hyper-controlling of her image, but there’s a reason for that, beyond simple narcissism and obvious commercial interests. People who are that obsessed with how they’re perceived by others may be incredibly insecure, something Swift admits in her Reputation liner notes.
“Ultimately, we post photos online to curate what strangers think of us. But then we wake up, look in the mirror at our faces and see the cracks and scars and blemishes, and cringe,” she wrote (via Genius). “We hope someday we’ll meet someone who will see that same morning face and instead see their future, their partner, their forever. Someone who will still choose us even when they see all of the sides of the story, all the angles of the kaleidoscope that is you.”
In a separate poem in her liner notes, Swift writes, “If you’re anything like me / You bite your nails… / You promise people the world, because that’s what they want from you. You like giving them what they want… You’ve grown to hate your pride / To love your thighs / And no amount of friends at 25 / will fill the empty seats / At the lunch tables of your past / The teams that picked you last.”
She has a sense of humor about herself
Swift is at least somewhat in on the joke about her, well, reputation. She’s been shilling snake merchandise, rocked a snake microphone during her November 2017 Saturday Night Live performance, and even pokes fun at her own “cat lady” reputation in “Gorgeous.” In her music video for “Look What You Made Me Do,” Swift makes fun of her “old Taylors” for the same thing everyone else made fun of them for: her surprised winning face; her sensitive, blubbering nice-girl image; her perpetual victimhood, and her infamous “I’d very much like to be excluded from this narrative” statement.
It's not hurting her sales
Listen, no matter how much hate Swift receives, it’s not going to dent her musical success or bank account. Billboard reported that Swift sold 700,000 copies of Reputation on the first day of its November 2017 release. If Swift sells 1 million copies in her first week, it will be her fourth album to do so.
Billboard reported that she’s currently the only artist to have three separate albums sell 1 million copies in their first week since Nielsen Music began tracking sales data in 1991. If Reputation does move 1 million copies, it will become the year’s best-selling album after just one week on shelves, besting her friend Ed Sheeran, whose ÷ has, at the time of this writing, sold 909,000 copies since its release in March 2017.
Her handlers may be the bigger problem
A source told Page Six that Swift is sweet as pie, but her parents, Scott and Andrea, sometimes cast a shadow over their daughter’s professional life.
“Taylor’s parents are incredibly difficult to deal with. Their expectations are enormous, and they are very hard to please. They want to pay as little as possible and treat people like s**t, because they think those people are lucky to have the chance to work with a superstar like Taylor,” a source said. “Taylor’s parents think they can do things better, and what makes things complicated is that they no longer live together. They are not on the same page and don’t even like to be in the same room. Andrea requests that her husband not be present at meetings. Taylor is incredibly smart and professional, but at some point she’s going to need her parents to stop, before it turns into a total Katherine Heigl ‘momager’ situation.”
It's exactly the narrative that she wants
Despite Swift’s outward insistence that she just wants to live her life and be left alone by the media, “Look What You Made Me Do” producer Jack Antonoff said the entire point of the track was to get people talking.
“We knew that was going to happen,” Antonoff told The Guardian. “I remember saying: ‘This is going to make thinkpieces on thinkpieces on thinkpieces!’ That was what it was designed for. That was the whole point of that song.”
Swift herself hinted at designing her tracks for media dissection in the liner notes to Reputation. “When this album comes out, gossip blogs will scour the lyrics for the men they can attribute to each song, as if the inspiration for music is as simple and basic as a paternity test,” she wrote (via Genius). “There will be slideshows of photos backing up each incorrect theory, because it’s 2017 and if you didn’t see a picture of it, it couldn’t have happened right?” (That’s likely also a reference to the fact that she and boyfriend Joe Alwyn have never been clearly photographed together, but there we go again, playing into yet another narrative from which Swift insists she wants to be excluded.)
There are far worse celebs to loathe
It’s important to keep all the Swift hatred in perspective: Sure, she may or may not have lied about approving Kanye West’s “Famous” lyric, but at the end of the day, does it really matter? Yeah, her beef with Katy Perry is annoying, but they’re both guilty of prolonging it in the public eye. Sure, denouncing Nazis is never really a bad thing—but as previously discussed, she may genuinely fear for her safety if she does do so. Yes, she dated around…just like every other young woman in the free world. She occasionally puts her foot in her mouth, just like most inherently fallible human beings.
But unlike a whole lot of other stars, Swift has neverbeenaccused ofsexual assault. She’s never been accused of domestic violence. She’s never been accused of actively engaging in hate speech. Her biggest offense may simply be wanting the entire world to love her—and inevitably being unable to live up to the very standards that she set for herself.
In the grand scheme of things, she could be a lot worse, so maybe it’s time to finally shake off the chip on your shoulder and embrace Swift’s pop dominance. Trust us, it’ll make listening to the radio a lot easier, because there’s no escaping her anyway.