Taylor vs. Kanye crashes into the political arena
Swift and West have become representatives of America’s divide in the Donald Trump era.
It’s the celebrity feud that will not die. Except this time, instead of Kanye West and Taylor Swift calling out each other in lyrics or taking shots in interviews, they’ve pulled opposing political 180s, seemingly swapping factions of their fan bases in the process.
Call it an unforeseen effect of the Donald Trump era that Swift and West have become representatives of America’s political divide – in a way that nobody could have predicted nearly a decade ago, when the two stars’ fates collided onstage at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
It was at the VMAs, of course, that West famously crashed Swift’s speech, sparking a feud that reignited in 2016 over West’s song “Famous.” And while both artists were never the most politically motivated of their peers at that point, they both had fairly distinct and opposing reputations – West as a liberalleaning firebrand, declaring that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” on live TV in 2005, donating money to Democratic candidates and occasionally rapping about racism and social justice, and Swift as Middle America’s sweetheart who purposefully stayed away from politics in her interviews.
How different things are now. In the years since West declared he was running for president at the 2015 VMAs, he has latched on to an agitator he sees as a kindred spirit: President Donald Trump. After stepping away from public appearances shortly after his summit with the president-elect at Trump Tower in 2016, West returned with a vengeance this year, bringing his Make America Great Again hat with him. He praised Trump on Twitter and, most recently, in a monologue on “Saturday Night Live” – again deleting his social media accounts after embarking on several politically motivated rants.
From associating with alt-right figures to sharing his questionable takes on slavery, West’s political turnaround has thrilled conservatives – he has a White House visit with Trump and Jared Kushner reportedly lined up for Thursday – while rendering him unrecognizable to fans that connected with his raps from a decade ago.
As for Swift, she caught heat for declining to endorse a candidate during the 2016 election, which many interpreted as her silent approval of Trump. Yet after returning from her own hiatus after squabbling with West earlier that year, Swift increasingly shared her support for progressive-leaning causes and donating to charities supporting sexual assault victims after her 2017 groping trial and publicly backing the March for our Lives campaign, which seeks to end gun violence and promotes gun control.
But it wasn’t until Sunday that Swift made the leap toward endorsing candidates. She posted a letter on Instagram supporting Tennessee’s Democratic congressional candidates while con- demning racism and discrimination.
The contrast wasn’t lost on fans between the comments West made on “SNL,” in which he claimed that “if I was concerned about racism, I would’ve moved out of America a long time ago,” and the language in Swift’s Instagram post, in which she wrote, “I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent.” Incredulous West fans voiced their surprise on social media that Swift, once seen as a noxious figure who played the victim to besmirch West’s name, has emerged as the superior ally.
Like so many other aspects of 2018, how fans feel about Kanye vs. Taylor likely comes down to how they feel about Trump, with the president routinely praising West on Twitter while announcing Monday that he “likes Taylor’s music about 25% less” after her Democratic endorsements.
And as the same voices on the right that praise West begin to voice their newfound aversions to Swift, with other commenters claiming that Swift actually “cares more about black people” than West, the two artists are once again diametrically opposed, in a more bizarre way than fans ever could’ve expected.
Kanye West who met President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in 2016 recently praised Trump in a monologue on “Saturday Night Live.”