Taylor feels confident to make a swift political shift
The timing may be telling, as the North American leg of the Reputation Stadium Tour ended
HOURS after she walked off stage on Saturday in Texas, Taylor Swift posted a photo to Instagram: an image of her joyously dancing onstage in a sparkly rainbow dress.
“We had an indescribably incredible time with you Dallas. Thanks for making us the first tour to play back to back nights in AT&T Stadium,” she wrote to her
112 million followers, 1 million of whom “liked” the photo.
Less than 24 hours later, Swift posted another Instagram photo, causing an internet meltdown.
Swift, the mega pop star who launched her career in Nashville, Tennessee, has remained silent on her political views. That is, until Sunday night, when she published a nearly 400-word message in which she endorsed Tennessee Democrats Phil Bredesen for the US senate and Jim Cooper for the house of representatives. She also slammed Republican Marsha Blackburn, the GOP candidate for senate, writing, “Her voting record in congress appals and terrifies me.”
It was a shocking shift for a star who has refused to share her opinion on anything political, even during the 2016 presidential election.
Not to mention the criticism she’s received for glossing over current events: last January, her tweet during the Women’s March (“So much love, pride, and respect for those who marched. I’m proud to be a woman today, and every day”) resulted in backlash on why a star who made feminism a significant part of her brand, didn’t join fellow celebrities at the march, or elaborate further. So what led to the turnaround? The timing is telling, as the North American leg of Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour ended on Saturday.
(She takes the show to Australia and Asia later this month.) So not only is there no pressure to sell tickets or face unhappy fans, but other problems disappear as well.
“The difference, I think, is this can’t become a news story at one of her events,” said Brian Mansfield, a Nashville-based former music journalist who covered Swift’s early Taylor Swift performs during the Reputation Stadium Tour opener at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
career in country music.
“There’s not going to be picketing. She’s not putting her fans at risk because of somebody that might respond inappropriately to this.”
The thinking is that Swift stayed silent for so long as she didn’t want to alienate in her country fan base, which may lean towards conservative.
In her Nashville days, she declined to reveal who she voted for in the 2008 election. Country music publicists often counsel their artists to avoid discussing politics, lest they anger country radio.
However, now that Swift is officially in the pop world and
selling out stadiums, many feel like a political stance is unlikely to spark a huge negative reaction. She may have a song on the country chart these days (Babe, a co-write she gave to Sugarland, is in the Top 20), but she’s already proved herself.
“Is it a risk for Taylor to speak out? Will it damage her career? No,” said Beverly Keel, professor and chair of Middle Tennessee State University’s Department of Recording Industry.
“But look at the attention it’s receiving – it’s going to be a headache. So it had to be worth it for her and clearly she felt so strongly that she did it.”
Those who follow Swift know that she’s long supported various causes. She helped pop star Kesha pay her legal bills in her sexual assault lawsuit. She donated money to the student-led March for Our Lives rally to stop mass shootings. At her concert in Chicago in June, she gave a speech about LGBTQ rights for Pride Month.
But this time, Swift tied it all together in a forceful statement.
“In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently,” she wrote.
“I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve.”
Swift’s post detailed her positions (“I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG”) and called “systemic racism” in this country “terrifying, sickening and prevalent”.
She called out Blackburn’s voting record, including her stances on LGBTQ issues and the fact that she voted against equal pay for women and an act that attempts to protect women from domestic violence.
“These are not MY Tennessee values,” Swift wrote.
One clear connection to these issues is Swift’s sexual assault lawsuit last year – a Colorado country radio DJ sued her after he lost his job when she reported that he lifted her skirt and groped her before a concert. Swift countersued for assault and battery for a symbolic $1 and won.
As social media dissected Swift’s post, she was contrasted with Kanye West, as they have feuded since the MTV Video Music Awards incident in 2009 when he crashed her acceptance speech. West is now a Trump supporter.
But in her message, Swift didn’t declare a party affiliation – she encouraged everyone to vote.
When asked about Swift’s remarks, President Donald Trump said on Monday: “Let’s say that I like Taylor’s music about 25% less now.”