OK, it all started with “Imma let you finish”-gate. Because the public largely loathes Kanye and, at the time at least, only saw Swift as a delicate angel princess, it was, as Katy Perry then described the situation, “like [Kanye] stepped on a kitten.”
Swift was obviously the winner here (though, we can all agree now the winner should have been Beyoncé both as an artist, video, and preventer of all that followed) but by the next year favor began to wane for at least some of us. Me specifically. And it had to do largely with this performance.
That is a barefoot tragic song about innocence lost. And it was written about the time someone took her microphone for a quick sec. Look, what Kanye did was
massively entertaining wrong. But this…this was a bit much.
The Divided Narratives
So we have Taylor Swift, the delicate angel.
We have Kim Kardashian, the “big ass and a sex tape.”
Their experiences are not that different.
Blonde, pretty, sweet Taylor Swift has had boyfriends, as young women who enjoy the company of men or at the very least aim to provide that public image do. She has been labeled a slut by tabloids, Twitter users and very uncomfortable sandwiches. Her external narrative tends to skew that of desperate and unable to keep a man.
Kim Kardashian is similarly Caucasian, but her family’s Armenian background has led to a lot of “what race is Kim Kardashian” Google searches, and her and her sister Khloe’s history of dating predominately black men has been the source of a lot of mockery. Her external narrative tends to skew that of slut with a big ass and a sex tape.
Both have lived their public lives in various stages of slut shame. They have each responded to these external narratives by creating and taking control of their own storylines.
The PR Mastery
Taylor Swift controls her media narrative in ways I’m not sure we’ve ever seen. She can have relatively benign tabloid stories completely altered in hours. If you don’t know what a big deal that is, ask why literally every other celebrity isn’t doing that exact same thing. They can’t. She can. From the biggest media stories to even a fluffy listicle written by a fairly minor internet writer at her former big website gig (*looking down my glasses at you*), there is no story or even a header image too big or small for Taylor and her people to shut down. She has her #Squad like she invented the term. She makes good songs. She is the underdog who managed to make it big through sheer gumption. This is the narrative that could only be created by a woman who grew up massively wealthy with enormous connections. And everyone buys it. She’s good. She’s superb.
Kim Kardashian has leaned in to her image. She poses nude. She is provocative. She is a reality star but also a businesswoman. You hate her? But you know her. That is her business. There is no negative story that can truly touch her because she’s not trying to be your bestie. For better or worse, she and her family are loud, sometimes naked and often irritating. They are who they are, or they are exactly who they want you to see. She’s good. She’s not as good as Taylor.
And that’s why this story that broke last night is so incredible.
Here’s What Happened Last Night
Shortly before The Dawn of Hiddleswift, Kim Kardashian shared some news. See, Kanye West released a song called “Famous.” It contained the two following lyrics:
“For all my south side n****s that know me best, I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex.”
“I made that bitch famous.”
Kardashian insisted that Swift approved the lyrics. Swift insisted she never would, that she “heard it for the first time when everyone else did and was humiliated.”
Now, if you’ve been following along like I have, you know two things: For all his foibles, West doesn’t really lie. And Swift absolutely would.
Because what they didn’t count on was how deeply on brand it is for Swift to be a victim. That is her role here, with Kanye West.
This is not judgment of Swift. This is her business. This is what it means to be this kind of a businesswoman. Nothing is real, nothing is genuine. Everything is created and contrived. This is not cynicism. This is Hollywood.
What Swift didn’t count on, however, is that they were smart enough to record her approving it. Because maybe they didn’t count on her playing victim—but they knew it was a possibility.
Yesterday, on Snapchat, Kim Kardashian released footage of Taylor Swift approving the lyrics to “Famous” and going so far as to call it a compliment.
I know, I mean it’s like a compliment, kind of…I mean go with whatever line you think is better. It’s obviously very tongue-in-cheek either way. … And I really appreciate you telling me about it, that’s really nice…Yeah, I mean, I don’t think anybody would listen to that and think, like, oh, that’s a real, that’s a real diss. Like, she must be crying.”
And, you know, if people ask me about it, I think it would be great for me to be like, look, he called me and told me the line before it came out. Joke’s on you guys, we’re fine…You guys want to call this a feud, you want to call this throwing shade? But right after the song comes on, I’m gonna be on a Grammy red carpet and they’re gonna ask me about it and I’m gonna be like, He called me.
They beat her. At the game she’s been running since Day One.
Taylor responded exactly as one would imagine.
As responses go, “oh yeah? WHERE’S THE VIDEO?” isn’t a great one. It’s kind of how GamerGaters respond to accusations of threatening women. And to say she’s never wanted to be part of this, that she’s never participated in this…
Maybe Kanye West didn’t actually make Taylor “Famous.” But that one event in 2009 helped solidify the Taylor Swift we know today. And for what it’s worth, many have posited for weeks, in these very comments even, that the performative nature of Hiddleswift has been designed all along to take focus off of this coming storm. JUST SAYING.
There are more important things to talk about… Why can't people use their voice for something that fucking matters?— Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) July 18, 2016
To which people responded…and then she responded to the people. It didn’t go well.
So she deleted it. But screenshots are forever.
And then there’s Chloe Grace Moretz who just keeps trying.
Everyone in this industry needs to get their heads out of a hole and look around to realize what's ACTUALLY happening in the REAL world— Chloë Grace Moretz (@ChloeGMoretz) July 18, 2016
Stop wasting your voice on something so petulant and unimportant— Chloë Grace Moretz (@ChloeGMoretz) July 18, 2016
Then there’s Khloe Kardashian who basically never helps anything, who tweeted about Chloe’s butthole. I don’t know, guys.
Meanwhile, the anti-Swifts were much more stealth. Zendaya, Pharrell Williams, Demi Lovato, they preferred “likes” to tweets.
Katy Perry has not responded. But she already did years ago.
Watch out for the Regina George in sheep's clothing…— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) September 9, 2014
The Weird Snake Thing
Honestly, that’s really everything you need to know. But this was just…interesting.
Before the explosion of it all, Kim Kardashian tweeted this:
Wait it's legit National Snake Day?!?!?They have holidays for everybody, I mean everything these days! 🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) July 17, 2016
And her fans started filling Taylor Swift’s Instagram comments with snake emojis. This happens. See all the bees. But…they’ve disappeared.
Now, it’s probably just the Tay Army coming in strong and reporting all of them. But knowing what we know about Swift and her unprecedented ability to squash…Guys, did she kill the snakes? Does she have INSTAGRAM POWER?
Anything is possible.