You’ve got to hand it to Taylor Swift for how she’s mastered the art of transformation. From long-haired, country singer with teardrops on her guitar to superwoman with the enviable #squadgoals, and now to this seemingly raw version of herself, after a year of silence since the #KimExposedTaylorParty.
Social media lost it as she cleared up her social media accounts, only to release a cryptic snake video. Today, all that teasing was to set up the stage for the announcement of her new album Reputation.
It’s a not-so-subtle message to how Taylor’s reputation has been the subject of praise and scrutiny. Accusations of white privilege, white feminism, and multiple love interests aside, Taylor knows the perception of the public eye is a tricky narrative to play. It’s one that a few have controlled, namely Beyoncé with her exclusive interviews and how she lets the work speaks for itself. Her silence is what launches a thousand speculations. It’s amazing how we talk so much about Beyoncé and yet when you think about it, we know so little about her. And every detail we do know is strictly something she has already filtered.
Taylor seems to be looking at that same game plan. She refused to be labelled as a “sexual assault victim,” ditching the helpless and victimized script as she went to court against David Mueller. Her cutting answers made top trending topics, seconded only by her relationships with Tom Hiddleston and Joe Alwyn. Don’t forget how she used her win to send an empowering message those who have gone through the same experience.
From being totally exposed by Kim Kardashian, a master of media manipulation herself, Taylor managed to bring back the air of mystery around her. We caught her hiding in oversized hoodies and we almost believed that she was transported via a suitcase.
That mystery seemingly swept the slate clean for the pop star. Of course, it had to be coupled with some hint that she was still working. Hence, that little song with Zayn Malik (boyfriend of #squad member Gigi Hadid) for a somewhat controversial but no longer relevant Fifty Shades Darker. “I Don’t Want to Live Forever” was catchy and radio-friendly. It was non-experimental pop that kept Taylor on the charts and in our thoughts as a singer, and not a celebrity.
Taylor’s reputation which has been associated with a myriad of names, and headlines (notice how the text on the album cover mimics newsprints and Kanye’s merch) is still Taylor’s to dictate it seems. It’s an admirable feat especially when you think about how women are often labeled and shamed for having a “reputation.”
The pop star is owning up to whatever was said about her. She knows you have been talking about her for the past year, reluctantly or not, Swifty or not. You called her a snake? Here’s a snake video. You want to talk about labels, look at her album cover. You want petty? Remember how she brought back all her music on Spotify the same day Katy Perry released Witness.
Forget the sweet and poppy Red and don’t look back at the sepia filter on 1989. In shades of grey for her latest album cover, Taylor seems to be cooking up something else, something we haven’t seen before.
It makes for excellent fanfare and intrigue. How she will pull it off with the debut of the first single and the album release this November will be a fodder for all sorts of stories at least.
I AM SO READY FOR THIS NEW TAYLOR SWIFT ERA OH MY GOD
— Andrea Russett (@AndreaRussett) August 23, 2017
Most of all, she made good on that statement she gave last year when Kim Kardashian dropped those recordings on Snapchat. She ended her statement which was typed out on her Notes app with “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I never asked of, since 2009.” It looks that wish of hers didn’t just end with that now-deleted social media post. Taylor’s going to tell her own story, using the very words that were used to take her down.
Art by Lara Intong
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