By Kelsey Duchesne
Okay, I know, I know. This Kardashian-West-Swift feud happened almost 48 hours ago, a.k.a a lifetime ago in the 24-hour Twittersphere. Thinkpiece upon thinkpiece has already been written, assessing every possible angle to the story. I’m sure you’ve just about had it, right? I understand. At first I struggled writing this piece because I felt that all angles had been delivered; that every clue in the hearsay-mystery of the summer had been sniffed out and now sits on display. This is partially true, of course--the truth is out in the open, the sides have been chosen, and it’s been written--but I still have a little more to say. The Kardashian-West-Swift drama goes outside the primary rules of celebrity and enters a months-long roller coaster of back and forth that has ended with a definitive conclusion. In the world of celebrity, it's rare that we, the outsiders looking in, get to see the final bell ding.
It has always seemed to me that the best and most common celebrity course is not to say a bad thing about anybody. Judd Apatow agrees. “It is an art to not end your career,” he told Bill Simmons on his Podcast, The BS report. “One thing I always tell people is ‘Don’t trash other people.’ A lot of young people will do their first interviews, and suddenly they're talking 9/11 conspiracies or their just trashing a comedian they don’t like, or a movie or a TV show. I always say ‘There is nothing that makes you look like a bigger jackass than attacking your fellow writers and directors and comedians.”
Apatow is right, but there have been successful celebrities who have gotten away with a lil' trash-talking, and one is singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. The master of cliché metaphors and subtlety, some of Swift’s most successful songs have been about personal moments with equally famous people. Several years ago Swift, who once claimed she wasn’t a feminist, reclaimed the label and was quick to defend herself with it whenever someone questioned the way she wrote about previous boyfriends or their new love interests in past songs. Bad Blood, a song heavily speculated to have been about Katy Perry but was never confirmed to be, yet teased consistently, was a little wink to her fans without actually saying anything damning. Lyrics like “She's an actress, whoa//She's better known for the things that she does on the mattress” were cast at the wayside-- they were written before the feminist Swift, after all.
Now, I totally understand Swift when she says that she is drawing from her own life to create art. I believe she truly is a master of brand and creates catchy albums, and I applaud her for being the top earning celebrity in the world. That takes hard work, and is an incredible achievement. It is because of all of this that I don’t have any sympathy for Taylor as she tackles a feud with another brand master, Kim Kardashian. You know, the woman Taylor claimed “assassinated her character” for exposing a lie that assaulted her husband's credibility? I’m sorry, Taylor, but I have too much respect for you as a businesswoman to pity you. You made this mistake on your own. You must have known who you're dealing with, here, but in case you forgot, I’ll remind you:
Kim Kardashian-West is a master of brand, timing, and self promotion. She is fiercely loyal and protective of her family, including her husband Kanye West. She is constantly being filmed and has cameras present for her reality show. When she’s not filming, she is constantly updating her loyal fans through Snapchat, Instagram, entries on her website, and her Twitter. (I mean, Kardashian once said “I am the best at Twitter”, and after this feud, I have to believe her.)
When Taylor Swift denied that Kanye West had ask for her blessing on a lyric in the song "Famous," Kim stayed quiet at first. She remained quiet when Kanye West took to Twitter and explained that he had an hour long conversation with Swift about the lyrics, when Swift’s lawyers had said that all he did was ask for her to promote the song on her Twitter. Kanye said that Swift had, in fact, planned to announce on the Grammys red carpet that she had been in on the infamous lyric, and the joke wasn't on her, but the media itself. Swift did not confirm this at the Grammys and when she won for best album, went on stage and said “There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame,” which is believed to be directed at Kanye. Kim puzzlingly didn't so much as peep.
It wasn’t until Kim’s GQ interview and correlating KUWTK episode that all was addressed. “She totally knew that that was coming out. She wanted to all of a sudden act like she didn't. I swear, my husband gets so much shit for things [when] he really was doing proper protocol and even called to get it approved,” she told GQ. After the episode “GOT MILF?” aired on July 17th, Kim tweeted “do u guys follow me on snapchat? u really should ;-)” And there, my friends, Kim leaked the footage of Taylor granting Kanye permission for the famous (lol) lyric. Cue the Twitter storm.
It was true. Taylor had been notified about the song by Kanye, and approved it. Her lawyers had first said that Taylor cautioned Kanye about releasing a song with a “strong misogynistic message,” yet the phone call reveals that she had called the song “a compliment-kind of,” “tongue and cheek” and had agreed that she would play it up on the Grammy's carpet.
Now, let’s state the facts--facts I believe are not worth debating: Kanye and Kim were telling the truth. Taylor Swift lied, and got caught.
Do I believe that after Swift heard the song, she may have decided that she actually wasn’t comfortable with the lyrics? Absolutely. Rather than trying to cover up her regret with lies that made Kanye and Kim out to be dishonest, she could have made a statement admitting that she had agreed to the lyric, but was no longer comfortable. This narrative would have been so understandable and relatable--how many times have you agreed to do something that you regretted later?--but instead Swift tried to erase a moment that had a loyal wife, multiple witnesses, and a video camera present.
Perhaps this feud boils down to an old trope, but an important one to consider: Swift made the mistake of underestimating Kim Kardashian. Kardashian wasn’t afraid of Swift’s popularity, money, publicists, #squad, or “good girl” persona. She was unfazed by her team of threatening lawyers. After the GQ article, Swift's team responded with "Taylor does not hold anything against Kim Kardashian, as she recognizes the pressure Kim must be under and that she is only repeating what she has been told by Kanye West.” Um, excuse me? Has Swift ever confused Kardashian for a meek conforming wife who absentmindedly regurgitates what her husband is telling her to do? This statement reads clear to me that even Taylor Swift, supreme leader of surface-level feminism, underestimates the transparency of Kimberly Kardashian. And if she didn’t then, she sure as hell does now.