Marsha Johnson, whom Taylor Swift has denounced politically, speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention. courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Taylor Swift’s political statement tentatively welcome

Taylor Swift supporting Democrats in the upcoming election is a good thing, though artists acting politically is often distasteful.

Taylor Swift came out … as a democrat. But if you’re anything like me, this does not necessarily feel like news. Considering all of her songs regarding girl power and empowerment, I just thought it was assumed that she is among the left wing. Apparently she had never officially given any type of endorsement to any party, which honestly surprised me.

On Oct. 7, Swift made a post on Instagram that leaves little doubt as to where her affiliations lie. She began by explaining her reluctance to make political statements in the past and how her opinion on that has changed in the past two years. She voiced her support for LGBTQ rights, as well as her belief in fighting discrimination of any kind.

She commented that she will not continue to support Tennessee’s Senator Marsha Blackburn based on her voting record, although she tries to support women in office. After naming the Tennessee candidates she intends on supporting, she urged her followers to register to vote. Two days later the Washington Post reported that received 169,000 new registrations after her post and that over half were among the 18 to 29 year old demographic. I am really happy for you, Taylor, and Imma let you finish in a minute, but it is obvious we need to talk about somebody else too.

If you have paid any attention to the news or media in general, then chances are you have seen Kanye West’s antics. It all started in April when Ye made a return to Twitter. He had been cooped up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, working on five (or more) different records. Though not the focus of his immediate return to Twitter, there was a haze of pro-Trump “MAGA” rhetoric over some of his posts and a non-album single called “Ye vs. The People,” in which he argued his views with T.I.

This just seemed like Kanye being Kanye in an attempt to remain relevant and to generate publicity before his records dropped. I was not excited by his newfound political views, but when I heard “Ghost Town” on “Ye” (a god-level song, by the way), I forgot about his right-wing opinions. Then, the next week when “Kids See Ghosts” dropped, as well as the merchandise for “KSG” and “Ye,” I blew half my paycheck on the first edition of the “KSG” hoodie (arguably his coolest piece of merch since the “I Feel Like Pablo” hoodies).

“Kids See Ghosts” was great, and it, alongside “Ye,” became the soundtrack to my summer — and at the end of summer, my hoodie was gaining me clout and starting conversations during orientation week.

Some asked me what I thought of his rhetoric, and as a liberal, I think it’s appalling. But I also still believed that he was using it for attention. Then Kanye went on SNL, and I had to stop wearing my hoodie.

Then Kanye went to the Oval Office. I have seen more Kanye “Jackson Hole” hoodies worn by white boys around campus in the past few weeks than before Ye’s MAGA-rant on SNL, his tweets calling for abolition of the 13th Amendment “sent with love” or his Oval Office Superman speech.

In the age of streaming, buying merchandise is the most direct way to support an artist. Chance the Rapper (Kanye’s more progressively-minded prodigy) made $6 million off of his “3” hats in one year. Though the damage is done for me, and I would not be caught dead in a T-Swift T-shirt, I feel like I need to go buy a few of them. If anybody wants a clean KSG hoodie, I’m trying to flip mine on Grailed— at least until Kanye walks back his statements.

I am a firm believer in separating art from the artist, so I can enjoy the music of Kanye West or even David Bowie in good conscience. But do we only practice that when it is convenient for us? With all of the #MeToo allegations coming out against plenty of bands, I would never use the “separate art from the artists” argument with a band that has done unforgivable things. Does the ability to pick and choose which artists I want to separate their art from make me a hypocrite? I love reading beat authors and poets, even though most were awful people.

I suppose the question is that now Swift has gone political, why has there not been public outcry and the need to “separate the art from the artist?” Perhaps it is less visible because her views are not problematic; however, who is allowed to deem what is problematic and what is not? When I first heard that she came out as Democrat, I wondered why I should care. I was under the impression that her art spoke for itself, and that it was almost unnecessary for her to confirm what (I feel) we have known. On the other hand, I have not been a Taylor Swift fan or listener since “Red,” but I think her entry into the political realm is a good thing. Regardless of her political affiliation, the message at the end was positive: to motivate her fans to register to vote. And they did.

Post Author: Will Gibson