Reputation, the latest album from Taylor Swift, was presumably inspired by the hit that her public image took when Kim Kardashian released unflattering recordings of a phone call (opens in new tab) between Taylor and Kanye West last year.
The Kimye drama *is* a perfect starting point for a "redemption" album—but considering the other moments fans have called out in recent years, it’s surprisingly light on clearing the air.
Reputation mostly splits its time between shading Kimye and praising Joe Alwyn, and even Taylor's very public breakups with Calvin Harris and Tom Hiddleston get little aural real estate. Here's what I was hoping to hear more of.
Fall of 2016 saw a slew of celebrities get vocally and visibly involved in the political process, supporting candidates and encouraging their fans to get out and vote.
After a period of complete silence about the election, Taylor did post on Instagram about the fact that she was voting:
Some people interpreted her sweater as confirmation that she was casting a vote for Hillary Clinton (see this post (opens in new tab) by Lena Dunham for explanation of the theory), but that's a far cry from stating her political stance outright. Taylor is not required to be open about her politics, of course, but it's also fair to question her decision to remain silent in what was a particularly contentious and consequential presidential battle.
Just this month, the ACLU released a statement (opens in new tab) admonishing Taylor for what it saw as an attempt to silence constitutionally protected free speech after the singer's legal team demanded that a blogger retract a post about Swift's status among white supremacists. Whether she likes it or not, Taylor's politics (or her perceived political apathy) are a part of her reputation, and a song addressing or at least acknowledging that (even if the song did not address her personal politics) would have been impactful.
The widely-held belief that her relationship with Tom Hiddleston was a publicity stunt.
Yes, "Getaway Car" makes it clear that Taylor saw Tom as an easy exit (opens in new tab) from what was apparently a failing relationship with Calvin Harris. But Taylor isn't shy about calling out the "liars," the "haters," and the media at large (many (opens in new tab) of whom reported (opens in new tab) theories (opens in new tab) that the relationship (opens in new tab) was less than authentic (opens in new tab)). While Taylor may have addressed rumors on the whole in "Getaway Car," she was mum on the larger issue: that there are people who believe she blatantly faked a relationship for publicity.
Her sometimes problematic feminism.
Long before the Kimye drama, Taylor was on the receiving end of criticism (opens in new tab) for being something of a poster child for white feminism. For years, feminist critiques (opens in new tab) of Taylor have mounted, taking aim at everything from her music videos to her mostly tall/white/thin girl squad.
There's obviously no one "right way" to be a feminist, but when you've built a brand (one marketed primarily to young women and girls) on female empowerment, it's certainly worth taking a beat, considering your critics, and using your platform to respond.
The Katy Perry feud.
As anyone with WiFi knows, this rift goes particularly deep. After the grenade that was "Bad Blood" and a cryptic interview with Rolling Stone (opens in new tab), Taylor has more or less stayed mum on the whole thing. Katy, on the other hand, addressed it directly during the press blitz promoting her latest album Witness.
Katy eventually proclaimed the end of the feud to be in Taylor's court. Given the, um, interesting timing of Taylor's return to Spotify (opens in new tab) (the day Witness was released, in case you forgot), it doesn't seem like she's quite ready to bury the hatchet. But...why? Why did this sleight smart so much?
Her own role in her reputation.
From the moment "Look What You Made Me Do" dropped, it was clear that Reputation wasn't going to be a mea culpa. Taylor’s approach to addressing her public-image shift was instead more anger-based and outward-facing. Listen, anger’s fine—but it’s also not the whole picture, and fans would surely pore over lyrics that told us the rest.
Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
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