Let Taylor Exist Independently of Kanye

Juliette Stoltz, Contributing Writer

I want to celebrate the leaked Kanye-Taylor phone call as a victory for Taylor Swift, and I do.

I want to write an article that provides a timeline of the ways that Kanye West has antagonized and bullied Taylor so that we all can understand that she was never playing the victim: she was the victim, and now we have proof. But I also don’t want to engage in the re-hashing of events that has brought Taylor hell for eleven years.

Taylor wouldn’t want me to, even though I’m a fan and am on her side.

Here’s what I’ve realized: If the general public paid half as much attention to, say, Taylor’s spectacular songwriting as they do to the drama tying her to Kanye West, she would be universally celebrated for her talent, which for any musical artist, I can imagine is the objective. But that’s not what the public is most interested in. No, they would rather feed off of the negativity that surrounds the drama between her and Kanye West; they would rather choose sides; they would rather call names. What does that feel like for Taylor, I wonder? To spend more than half of your life working on your musical craft and receive more media attention for the night a man took the microphone out of your hands, as well as for everything with that man that has followed. Yes, Taylor has it easier than nearly all of us do in a lot of ways. She owns multi-million dollar properties and can afford luxuries that the rest of us can only dream of. But she’s also a person who is affected by things, like being called that bitch in a song for the entire world to hear. Or by seeing videos online from Kanye’s Saint Pablo tour, in which the crowd chants “Fuck Taylor Swift!” Or by being sub-tweeted about by Kim Kardashian, in a post featuring 37 snake emojis. The list can go on.

 

Throughout the years I’ve avoided becoming consumed by the news about the most recent way that Kanye has dragged Taylor down. I don’t read more than one or two articles about the latest deceit or fallout. Instead, I focus on what Taylor posts to social media, because she treasures her relationship with her fans and would let us know if something were worth our time. But for this article, I did research to remind myself of the timeline of events, and frankly, it made me feel nauseated. The first thing I want to say is let’s stop calling everything that has happened between Taylor and Kanye a “feud,” because that’s not what it is. A feud requires both parties’ involvement. A quick glance to everything from 2009 to the present demonstrates that time and time again Kanye victimizes Taylor—from the 2009 Video Music Awards ceremony interruption to the 2016 phone call manipulation, and everything in between. And what has Taylor done in response? Well, in an interview taken that fateful night in 2009, she is smiling (albeit probably on the verge of tears) as she says, “You know, I don’t know [Kanye] and I don’t want to start anything because I just…you know, I had a really great night tonight.” In 2010, she released her third album, Speak Now, and in the eleventh track, “Innocent,” she forgives Kanye. In 2016, as the drama continued, she stated on Instagram that she would “very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that [she] has never asked to be part of, since 2009.” Every time, she handles the situation with grace, kindness, and maturity.

 

I never once doubted that Taylor was telling the truth about the phone call when she stated that she had never heard or approved of the full lyrics. Taylor is smart and strategic, and has been this way throughout her entire career. I knew that she would not lie about a phone call conversation that potentially could be leaked online. And while it’s heartbreaking that the call confirms that the hell people have put her through for the past four years was for nothing, I am, for the most part, glad that it was leaked. It serves as validation that Taylor is exactly who we fans believed her to be. And it feels good to have evidence of that surface for the doubters to see. For many of them, she has just been upgraded, if I may, from snake to victim. I also hope that this is the last time we will ever have to put Taylor Swift in the same article as Kanye West. I hope that the periodic re-hashing of the humiliation and degradation Taylor has endured by the hands of Kanye will finally see its end. Taylor is an accomplished musician, a lyrical genius, and a role model to millions of people around the world. She is not a snake, and she is so much more than someone’s victim.

Born and raised in Sacramento, CA, Juliette Stoltz is a first-year fiction writer in the Creative Writing MFA program at the University of New Orleans. She enjoys playing the piano, baking and running half marathons. 

 

Photo appears courtesy of @its.ahmed.samir via Instagram