OPINION: Is Taylor Swift exploiting pop and queer culture?

Taylor Swift is telling society to calm down via her new single but the question is being asked whether she should take her own advice instead. 

With her seventh studio album Lover set for release on August 12, the country turned pop star has drastically changed her sonic direction. From an innocent exploration of love, to a mature look on empowerment, she’s constantly finding her footing in this swiftly changing musical climate. 

But for this new era, she’s crossed a fine line between appreciation and exploitation of popular and LGBTQI+ culture. 

Reputation saw Swift taking control of her narrative and turning the attention away from tabloid headlines to focus on the message behind the music. Taking a stand for female empowerment, the singer-songwriter created an urge of resistance for her younger fanbase who may not have completely understood the political undertones. 

During the cinematic stylings of ‘I Did Something Bad’ she delivered a raw line full of hope, respect and empowerment. “If a man talks shit, then I owe him nothing”. Which also turned into one of the most powerful moments in her live show with 30,000 screaming along.

With her whole live show setting a tone of being unapologetically honest and truthful to who you are, I expected the empowering theme to continue into this new era. Instead, Lover is proving to be a little tasteless with its gimmicky direction. 

The lead single ‘ME!’ featuring Brendon Urie was a confusing but colourful display of bubblegum pop. Feeling like it belonged on a Despicable Me or Trolls movie soundtrack, she didn’t really impress listeners with its basic premise. 

Her star power is indisputable but the question exists whether the song would’ve been played on commercial radio if it was released by any other artist. The answer is, probably no. If Meghan Trainor or Rachel Platten released this track they would’ve been struggling to get airplay but because of Swift’s star-power she instantly got added without any deliberation.

‘You Need To Calm Down’ hears her fighting for LGBTQI+ rights which is a powerful thing but there is a fine line between supporting and exploiting them and she’s crossed it.

Swift is a CIS white woman who identifies as straight but for some reason she is trying to pen herself as a gay icon. With a rainbow colour scheme and featuring LGBTQI+ celebrities and ally’s in the video, she tries to create a statement. Instead, she’s torn peoples opinions as they try to understand what she’s doing. 

Swift has never been open about her political agenda. Nor has she tried to stir the pot with her individual views. She’s always stayed clear of creating controversy and speaking her mind. Her Reputation era was bold in theory but it was still tame in action. With the world in a political turmoil with Donald Trump’s presidency, she still remained quiet about her views and focused on individual empowerment. 

In the lead up to this era she’s launched a petition for an Equality Act, surprised a gay engagement party, performed at Stonewall in New York with Jesse Tyler Ferguson and enlisted drag queens to star in her new music video. 

She has never interacted this heavily with the LGBTQI+ community, or been this politically vocal, so it seems a little opportunist. 

The premise of the new songs are very basic and the melodies are just as simple which begs the question why are we supporting this? Pop music is thriving at the moment with incredible newcomers paving their way and introducing new concepts but instead of supporting them we are more interested in helping grow a brand instead.

With a very public feud with Katy Perry coming to a head, they united on screen in matching hamburger and french fry costumes during the new music video. In a desperate plea for click bait, it seem to be that the singer is relying on media to promote her songs again even though she vowed to not do that.  

Is the Reputation period something she has moved on from? Is she okay with exploiting pop and queer culture to try regain her relevance in a world where she’s apparently losing her impact? It’s a question that people are angrily discussing online as they try to make sense of her actions.

Taylor Swift is guarded as one of the most influential pop artists but with this confusing and gimmicky approach, does she deserve the attention? 

Instead of trying to exploit a culture and community to get album sales, chart certifications and ticket purchases, she should just focus on creating great music again. The ‘1989’ era was successful because it was genuine and exciting. Where as the Lover era has already got people rolling their eyes and more interested in Katy Perry’s revival. 

In revision; Taylor, YOU need to calm down 

One Reply to “OPINION: Is Taylor Swift exploiting pop and queer culture?”

  1. This is such an interesting topic and I’m glad you brought it up! Although I can’t say for certain I believe Taylor is exploiting anything, I can agree that her recent releases are lackluster, even with the positive messages they send. As someone who is an amazing singer/songwriter, her recent material is questionable in terms of style and direction.

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