As soon as Once more, Taylor Swift Can’t Declare Ignorance

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Taylor Swift performs at the BBMAs
Picture: Getty Pictures

The Billboard Music Awards have been an enormous evening for comebacks. The newly reunited JoBros (and the #JSisters) carried out a medley of recent and previous hits, legends like Paula Abdul and Mariah Carey proved they’re iconic for a purpose and Taylor Swift got here off her hiatus with a Pepto Bismol-hued efficiency of her latest single “ME!”

However in an evening of greats, one of many above performances left us—and a big swath of the web—feeling not so nice, with followers calling out T-Swift for seemingly *ahem* borrowing *ahem* her efficiency from one other icon: Beyoncé.

Opening the awards present alongside Panic! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie, T-Swift stormed the stage with a marching band-heavy efficiency, with lots of her poses and even her outfits inflicting some viewers to pause, as a result of haven’t we seen this earlier than? For many individuals, the reply was a agency “Sure!” We noticed it about two weeks in the past, when Queen Bey launched her behind-the-scenes documentary of her 2018 Coachella efficiency: Homecoming.

For the Beyhive, Swift’s model left *a lot* to be desired, and was decried as a bland, gentrified, Torros vs. Clovers knock-off of B’s efficiency. In step with #Beychella, T-Swift’s BBMA efficiency has been dubbed #Mayochella (which, LOL).

Swift has but to touch upon whether or not the efficiency was meant to be impressed by the Queen—or to the claims of it being a straight-up copyright infringement. However by no means ones to be silent, her followers shot again, with many Swifties pointing to a protracted (albeit contentious) historical past of artists taking inspiration from one another. American actor Michael Rapaport (a covert Swiftie—who knew?) chimed in on Twitter, tweeting: “So Taylor Swift stole from Beyoncé who stole from Gwen Stefani who stole from Fleetwood Mac within the 1970s?”

Others tried to assert Swift really used marching band imagery first, and that the similarities have been all one massive coincidence. Hey, marching bands are in!

First off, Beyoncé’s efficiency was a motion

Fan reactions apart, what we *can’t* put apart is a few critical crucial pondering. As a result of, it’s ridiculous to imagine that Tay’s BBMAs efficiency happened in a vacuum with out at the very least *one* individual on her crew recognizing or drawing from the importance of—and similarity to—Bey’s efficiency.

We get it, as a lot as we’d like to credit score her with every little thing Beyoncé didn’t invent the marching band. Artists have lengthy used the trope of their movies and songs (together with Swift in her 2008 music video for “You Belong With Me“).

However Homecoming wasn’t simply about that one time at band camp. Bey’s iconic Coachella efficiency paid homage, by means of her use of drumlines, to HBCU’s (traditionally Black faculties and universities). As author Bee Quammie wrote for FLARE in April 2018: “HBCUs have been established in response to the rampant racism and segregation that barred Black college students from attending present faculties and universities (generally known as PWIs—’predominantly white establishments’), however they’ve turn out to be a significant a part of American tradition.” And in paying homage to the Black collegiate expertise— in every little thing from the outfits, berets and solid of largely all-Black performers—Bey paid homage to Blackness and the Black expertise as a complete.

Tack that on to the truth that Queen B was the *first* Black, feminine performer to headline Coachella *and* introduced a set of recent scholarships for college kids at particular HBCUs after each Coachella performances, it’s indeniable that what she did with Homecoming goes past an everyday live performance. That band wasn’t simply there for the beat or for an aesthetically pleasing set—there was which means and intention behind their participation.

And it’s this intention and private connection to the efficiency content material— with Beyoncé training for eight-months (after simply giving beginning!) and actually pouring her coronary heart, soul and physique into this efficiency—that makes riffing on it, whether or not intentional or not (FWIW, we expect it’s very intentional) simply mistaken. It not solely cheapens and diminishes Swift’s personal efficiency (which, truthfully, seemed prefer it had been thrown collectively in eight minutes—don’t @ me), however its very existence makes an attempt to dillute Beyoncé’s love letter to her group.

And, let’s be trustworthy, Taylor and her crew would have needed to have identified that. The value of Netflix might have gone up, however we’re certain T-Swift can afford the $16. And Twitter—which has been buzzing for the reason that launch of the “Formation” singer’s doc—is free.

This isn’t the primary time Tay’s copied Bey

It’s exhausting to not imagine that Tay’s efficiency was considerably intentional, particularly as a result of she’s taken cues from the Homecoming performer earlier than.

As #OscarsSoWhite activist April Reign identified on Twitter, there have been *so much* of parallels drawn between the 2 performers all the way in which again in 2017, throughout Swift’s Popularity period and Beyoncé’s post-Lemonade.

“Think about pondering this wasn’t apparent. I’ve to snigger. #Mayochella” the activist tweeted with photos from Beyoncé’s formation tour alongside images from Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do.”

Compared side-by-side, it’s exhausting *not* to see the similarities. Bey’s “Formation” seems to be—which once more, pulled closely from her tradition and background, that includes emblems of the South—appear nearly mirrored in a nonetheless of Swift in an analogous black bodysuit, standing in formation with equally decked out dancers in an eerily comparable location to Bey’s music video.

… And it’s not the primary time she’s feigned ignorance

Pay attention, none of us are good—removed from it. And T-Swift has achieved lots of good, for each her followers and the music business, however this not the primary time she’s didn’t acknowledge and take accountability for her actions, or the repercussions of them.

In October 2017, author Meghan Herning wrote in regards to the singer’s reputation amongst white supremacists for on-line weblog PopFront, suggesting she’s linked to the alt-right. Per PopFront, the publish “dove right into a historical past of white supremacy and eugenics and the way these ideologies have performed a task within the political discourse of this nation. It in contrast the lyrics of Swift’s music ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ and the chants on the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.”

The piece then ended with a name to motion: “[…] Whereas pop musicians usually are not revered world leaders, they’ve an enormous viewers and their music usually displays their values. So, Taylor’s silence is just not harmless, it’s calculated. And if that isn’t true, she must state her beliefs out loud for the world-no matter what fan base she may lose as a result of in America 2017 silence within the face of injustice means help for the oppressor.”

In response, Swift’s crew tried to have the publish retracted, calling the story defamatory.

This wasn’t the primary time a journalist has written about Swift and a connection between her music and the alt-right. Retailers resembling Vice, Konbini and Complicated have achieved the identical, with Vice describing her because the alt-right’s pop icon.

Do we expect that Swift is a white nationalist and supporter of the alt-right? OF COURSE NOT. However, as Herning said in her name to motion, she has an enormous viewers and following; and, as they are saying, with nice energy comes nice accountability. By failing to acknowledge and tackle the—albeit unintentional—results of her music, Swift not solely brushes over a severely massive problem, however doesn’t do something to discourage it.

And this tendency to haplessly shrug has prolonged in to her feuds, the place Swift has repeatedly performed harmless; unaware of why different celebs, together with her ex Calvin Harris, would go after her—and he or she’s been known as out for it. And let’s not overlook her complete ascension into her fame period, largely initiated by her rift with the reigning household of actuality TV, the Kardashian-Wests. ICYMI: In 2016, Kim Kardashian-West and her hubby Kanye bought right into a feud with T-Swift over a some contentious (and, tbh, misogynistic) lyrics within the former’s music, “Well-known.” Upon the music’s launch, Swift and her squad appeared stunned and offended by the lyric: “I really feel like me and Taylor may nonetheless have intercourse/ Why? I made that bitch well-known.” In response, Kardashian-West posted video footage exhibiting West in-studio, clearing the lyric with Swift through cellphone. From there, the concept of Swift as a snake was born, as was the imagery for her subsequent album and tour.

There are myriad methods Swift might have attributed, paid homage and, frankly, bowed all the way down to the Queen of music, however you may’t nod to one thing you don’t have a connection to—or at the very least not a significant one which isn’t gimmicky and clearly meant for tweets or gross sales.

And that brings in *a complete* different factor to this contentious problem: If that is all an exaggerated wink, elbow-in-the-ribs, “don’t you get it?” gimmick, it’s one which co-opts, capitalizes and earnings off the exhausting work of Beyoncé, a Black lady, in addition to Black tradition. Which in flip contributes to a very lengthy historical past of white folks capitalizing off the labour and tradition of individuals of color, particularly within the realm of music. As Kathleen Newman-Bremang wrote for Refinery29: “The historical past of Black music in America contains many white artists taking Black songs and Black aesthetics, throwing white faces on them, and making an attempt to move it off as their very own.” And whereas she—and we—aren’t saying  that’s what  Swift did on the BBMA stage, “somebody on her crew ought to have identified that that is how it will be perceived and suggested her in opposition to it.”

And actually, who advantages from any of this? Actually not Beyoncé, who I’m certain would have appreciated a direct shout out or perhaps a tweet of appreciation. Which actually solely leaves Swift to learn from the chatter and hype that this efficiency would deliver, on the coattails of Bey’s set.

If something, Swift’s efficiency exhibits that she nonetheless doesn’t perceive that photos have which means past her kira-kira’d co-option of it. She doesn’t get the concept once you use particular imagery, be it a marching band onstage on the BBMAs, or twerking in her “Shake it Off” music video, there’s a protracted historical past behind them, and sometimes, race performs an even bigger function than you assume.

In conclusion, we’re taking a cue from Beyoncé’s artwork director, Andrew Makadsi:

Associated:

Taylor Swift Ended One Feud, Solely to Reignite One other Moments Later
Taylor Swift Ought to Communicate Out As a substitute of Making an attempt To Make Her Critics Shut Up
Homecoming Proves Beyoncé is Nonetheless the Queen of Management



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