Perfectly coiffed, manicured and poised, the new celebrity woman is a veneered beast. Outings are manoeuvred for maximum exposure, multiple love interests colour a wonderful narrative of attainability and no moment is left undocumented. This new breed of celebrity has been honed immaculately in the machine that drives Taylor Swift, once a curled country star with a remarkable twang, today’s Taylor has been varnished.
Varnished to look like every other pop star, a careful mix of country quaintness, adorable girl next door looks and sex appeal. Britney Spears esque craftsmanship sees the ideal woman crafted, but in a world of constant media scrutiny and internet breaking feuds this facade is not easily upheld. Innocence is used as a tool to sell arena tickets to the kids, sell as much obnoxious merch as possible and guarantee chart-topping position. A Queen Bee watching over her hive and making sure her empire keeps churning out nauseating pop music.
Today has seen two of the most capable manipulators of celebrity come to blows, with Kim Kardashian releasing damning video of Taylor Swift approving the controversial lyrics to Famous by Kanye West. For two women who have built their careers on a string of love interests, the bad blood is particularly thrilling to watch unfold – you can’t deny that. The walls of persona and personality come crumbling down for Swift, while her carefully etched portrait of innocence comes into question.
If you were to compare the pair, they exist at complete odds. One a long limbed elven creature and the other a herald of the voluptuous body. Kardashian although a product of celebrity driven society owns her past, the product of opportunistic promiscuity laid bare on tape. Instead for Swift her love interests are paraded like suitors waiting in line to meet their dame, staged pictures of romance and blossoming love are shared with the world in a timely manner. Say in line with a new song or to distract from a messy breakup, Swift orchestrates her perception with finite precision.
Swift no longer speaks for herself, a host of reps scrutinize and deliver a packaged pop star.
To catalogue the famous men Swift has enjoyed a dalliance with one would just look to her albums, for each breakup provides the perfect material for a hit song. We Are Never Getting Back Together, an anthem for Jake Gyllenhaal, I Knew You Were Trouble, a pointed barb at Harry Styles, Dear John, a not so well veiled roast of John Mayer. As Swift moves on from the arrangement she follows a careful pattern asserting herself as the victim of heartless men. From there she writes an emotive song and ascertains the blame of her heartbreak, puppeteering the situation to assume the role of heartbroken songstress all over again.
The original Taylor Swift of Love Story fame would surely have been shocked and appalled by the lyrics “I made that bitch famous” and “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex”. All ringlets and demure romance that Taylor Swift would be able to feign offence. Instead to chastise the derogatory language of the rap genre and draw offence to it so loudly, Swift misses her use of the genre entirely in search of public support.
Swift’s Shake It Off video was lamented for its appropriation of African American culture, brimming with twerking women and offensive cultural tropes of rap culture. Holding a boombox, cap turned backwards the overtly white Swift lets chains hang from her neck and absurdly large hoops dangle from her ears. To an army of mostly white teenage Taylor Swift fans black stereotypes were broadcast and manipulated for her own vanity and entertainment.
Surrounding herself with a gaggle of famous women Taylor Swift even appropriated the term squad for her own gain. Inserting the word into common vernacular as her own, neglecting its history and contextual use in African American culture. Swift privileged the likes of Victoria Secret’s models into her inner circle and graced the world with her girl power outfit. #SquadGoals
Kardashian wielded Swift’s own weapon to commit character assassination, undermining her tireless years of image work. From the initial “Imma let you finish” incident Taylor saw an opportunity to capitalise on the damsel in distress trope of narratives past, a behaviour she has repeated clinically in her rise to success.
From bickering with Katy Perry for news coverage, arguing with Nicki Minaj about white privilege and body image, to the current saga with Kim Kardashian; Taylor Swift uses the availability of celebrity and the virality of trending topics to assert her relevance and climb viciously to the top. Swift no longer speaks for herself, a host of reps scrutinize and deliver a packaged pop star.
Choreographed and mobilised with efficiency, Taylor has been crafted into rigid celebrity persona. From her well documented romance with Avengers star Tom Hiddleston or the detailed chronicle of her relationship with Kanye West; Swift’s life is now one big publicity stunt.
Image Source: The Dishh