Taylor Swift Refuses to Shut Up and Sing

Should celebrities use their influence in partisan politics?

Pop star Taylor Swift went political on Instagram and ignited a controversy.

WaPo (“Taylor Swift’s stunning statement: Famously apolitical star slams Tennessee Republican, endorses Democrats“):

In a stunning turnaround from her refusal to discuss anything related to politics, Taylor Swift revealed whom she’s voting for in the 2018 midterms.

The pop megastar, who just wrapped up a 40-date stadium tour across the country, posted a long Instagram caption Sunday night. In it, Swift, who is registered to vote in Tennessee, gave a detailed explanation about why she’s voting for Democrats Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for the House.

Swift also slammed Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), writing, “Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me.”

“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 about that now,” Swift wrote to her 112 million Instagram followers. “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 in this country.”

She continued: “I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love.”

Over the past two years, Swift has been criticized for not using her platform as one of the most powerful celebrities on the planet to talk about current events — and glossing over anything political during a grueling, divisive time. The day of the 2016 presidential election, she posted a photo of herself in line to vote and urged others to do the same. She made no mention of her political leanings, even as a top Google search was “Who is Taylor Swift voting for?”

I must confess, it has never occurred to me to wonder who Swift was voting for. Still, it’s not surprising that someone so famous and with such a large social media following would generate a reaction with that post–especially considering she used ALL CAPS several times to indicate how much she meant it.

WaPo (“A betrayal beyond words’: The far right melts down over Taylor Swift’s endorsement of Democrats“):

Taylor Swift’s declaration that she plans to vote for Democrats next month fell like a hammer across the Trump-worshipping subforums of the far-right Internet, where people had convinced themselves, for reasons it will take some time to explain, that the world-famous pop star was a secret #MAGA fan.

The news caught 4chan and Reddit trolls mid-post. On the pro-Trump r/The_Donald board, someone had just written out a sexual fantasy in which Swift and Kanye West hooked up because “Trump being the best president is actually something they both agree on.” The author edited the post minutes later: “NVM didn’t realize Taylor sold out to the left.”

Missives about Swift’s perceived betrayal of conservatism clogged far-right message boards. Some simply refused to believe what she had written to her 112 million Instagram followers Sunday evening — a 400-word condemnation of “systemic racism,” homophobia and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the GOP Senate candidate in her home state of Tennessee, complete with Swift’s endorsement of two Democrats: Phil Bredesen, the party’s Senate candidate, and Rep. Jim Cooper.

“This is more than likely from Democratic MK ultra forces from above,” m3Me_Magic wrote on The_Donald. “I highly doubt Swift decided to become political at the 11th hour all on her own.”

That a 28-year-old celebrity — even one who had previously kept her politics private — would weigh in on a potentially crucial midterm election seems much less strange than the story of how the far-right Internet came to believe Swift was their secret ally — “our girl,” as many put it.

The delusion traces back to the middle of the Obama administration, 2011, when a certain fraction of 4chan users convinced themselves that Swift had let them name her cat.

Ah, so these are random yahoos on subreddits catering to cretins. Apparently, though, that’s something of a big deal in that she had rather a large and creepy following among that demo.

Vanity Fair (“Taylor Swift’s Politics and the Death of One of the Internet’s Worst Memes“):

Taylor Swift is not a neo-Nazi. She’s never espoused those views in public. Regardless, in 2016, in the summer before the presidential election, reports surfaced that the alt-right refer to her as its “Aryan goddess.” On Monday, after she condemned a Republican Senate candidate with a history of anti-L.G.T.B.Q. views, and offered a strong, clear political opinion for the first time ever, they were not pleased.

If “Ayran goddess Taylor Swift” sounds like a bad joke, know that it is—or, at least, it started that way. The idea came from the once-fringe reaches of the Internet, 4chan’s “politically incorrect” forum “/pol.” 4chan convinced itself that Swift was lurking on the forum in 2011 (it’s a long story involving her cat Meredith). Elsewhere, a Pinterest user superimposed Hitler quotes over her photos to satirize of the Pinterest habit of misattributing quotes willy-nilly, according to BuzzFeed. Around the same time, a maybe real, maybe fake photo of her posing with a guy wearing a swastika made the rounds. With the power of the Internet threads combined, a Nazi meme was born.

When progressives criticized Swift in subsequent years—for the colonial nostalgia of the “Wildest Dreams” video, or her lack of a political endorsement during the 2016 election—these right-wing sites defended her in their particular brand of humor, and continued to post anti-Semitic memes starring her. In 2017, her legal team threatened a lawsuit against the site PopFront when a writer claimed that she was leaning into the alt-right’s obsession with her in her most recent album Reputation. The A.C.L.U. intervened on behalf of the blogger, and on Andrew Anglin’s the Daily Stormer, the gleeful headline was, “[Slur] A.C.L.U. Defends Website Accusing Taylor Swift of Being a Neo-Nazi!”

Other headlines on the Daily Stormer—a site guided in part by the ethos of “ironic Nazism disguised as real Nazism disguised as ironic Nazism”—read, “Taylor Swift, Avatar of European Imperialism,” and, “Aryan Goddess Taylor Swift: Nazi Avatar of the White European People,” and, “Aryan Goddess Taylor Swift Accused of Racism for Behaving Like an Ape in a Music Video.”

When right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was still working with Breitbart, he tried to spell it out: “The alt-right can be given to conspiracy on occasion—hardly surprising, given how often they are lied to and about—and the thought that Swift is covertly ‘red-pilled,’ concealing her secret conservative values from the progressive music industry while issuing subtle nods to a reactionary fanbase, delights them.” As long as Swift said nothing, the lark played.

And now the lark is over. On Sunday, as she finished the American leg of her Reputation tour, Swift posted a photo of herself to Instagram with a long caption that warned against Tennessee Senate hopeful, Republican Marsha Blackburn. Blackburn’s voting record “appalls and terrifies” her, she wrote, and cited views held by Blackburn that tend to go against L.G.T.B.Q. rights and women’s equality. “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 about that now,” Swift said.

Yikes.

But I digress. My interest in this is not in Swift or her views per se but in the public reaction to it and, specifically, whether it much matters.

Swift is, by all accounts, an intelligent and successful woman. She has every right to use the platform afforded by her celebrity to promote causes she believes in, speak out about issues she’s passionate about, and, yes, endorse candidates for political office. Presumably, though, she has up until now demurred from doing so on the same grounds that a young Michael Jordan famously eschewed politics: Republicans buy music, too.

As best I can tell from a quick Internet search, the “meltdown” from Republicans has been muted at best. The Fox & Friends gang is saddened by it and questioning whether she wrote it herself. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is being good-humored about it:

If you haven’t heard, multimillionaire pop star Taylor Swift came down from her ivory tower to tell hardworking Tennesseans to vote for Phil Bredesen.

Here’s a look at the man T Swift is supporting:

  • As governor, Bredesen’s office shielded top aides from sexual harassment allegations. (Bonna de la Cruz, “Deputy Gov. Pulled Strings In Hushed-Up Harassment Case,” The Tennessean, 12/21/05)
  • Under Bredesen’s administration, sexual harassment problems skyrocketed. (Matt Gouras, “Sexual Harassment Reports Climb,” The Associated Press, 12/12/05)
  • Bredesen’s administration shredded evidence about sexual harassment allegations involving his political appointees. (Brad Schrade, “Investigator Shreds Notes In Bredesen Aide’s Demotion,” The Tennessean, 5/12/05)
  • “Records have shown that when Bredesen’s office becomes involved in a complaint, notes are shredded or not taken, or documents are not released.” (Editorial Board, “EDITORIAL: Bredesen Must Clean Up Conduct, Open Records,” The Tennessean, 7/15/05)
  • Bredesen downplayed sexual harassment saying, “Anytime you mix men and women together in a work environment there’s going to be issues.” (Brad Schrade, “Bredesen Imposes Secrecy On Select Harassment Cases,” The Tennessean, 7/16/05)
  • Bredesen called a small fine and minimal suspension “appropriate,” after the President of Middle Tennessee State University was accused of sexually harassing a female subordinate. (Duren Cheek, “MTSU Chief’s Penalty Fair, Too Soon To Tell For TSU Head, Governor Says,” The Tennessean, 12/9/03)
  • Bredesen hired two individuals who oversaw the mishandling of the sexual harassment allegations to run his campaign. (Brent Scher, “Bredesen Reassembles Team That Mishandled Sexual Harassment Claims,” The Washington Free Beacon, 2/6/18)

Guess when it comes to letting sexual harassment get in the way of political gain, Taylor Swift’s attitude is to just shake it off…

Presumably, some number of Republican fans will be offended by Swift’s post and refuse to buy her music in the future and some number of Democrats will be more inclined to do so. And I really don’t want to contemplate the future sexual fantasies of the Reddit gang.

Will Swift’s plea matter at the polls? One wouldn’t think so but there has reportedly been a spike in voter registration:

Voting registrations nationwide and in Tennessee have significantly increased just a day after singer Taylor Swift posted a rare political Instagram post.

According to Vote.org on Monday, nationwide, there have been 51,308 new registrations in the past 24 hours.

It also saw a general spike in website traffic in the last 24 hours, with 155,940 unique visitors.

In the state of Tennessee, 2,811 registrations from September increased to 3,582 in October so far, and 2,144 of those were in the last 36 hours, according to the website.

The climb in registration numbers comes after Swift posted her political opinion on Instagram Sunday.

“She laid it out there in a lot of words with a lot of passion, saying vote based on issues. Take a look at the candidates and make sure that you agree with candidates as opposed to look at the demographics of the candidates,” Karen North said.

North, who is a professor of digital social media at USC Annenberg, said Swift’s post could very well have an impact on the midterm elections.

“Taylor Swift, given her immense following in social media and just following among fans, could actually sway people – not even necessarily on their vote – but possibly just the get out the vote, the push to go show up at the polls and make a difference,” she said.

Now, this is purely anecdotal. How many of these registrations were spurred by Swift? How many of them would have registered on a different day but registered early because of Swift? Who knows. But it’s plausible that some number of younger eligible voters will exercise their franchise because they’re inspired by Swift.

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Personally I’ve never really cared about what celebrities think about politics, but apparently, there’s a market for this kind of thing. What’s notable about Swift is that this is really the first time she’s dipped a toe in the political water and she has been criticizing in some circles for not using her fame to advance causes she cares about. Whether she’ll have an impact or not is another story.

    However, if this leads to many of her fans getting out to vote then that at least will be a good thing..

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Now, this is purely anecdotal. How many of these registrations were spurred by Swift? How many of them would have registered on a different day but registered early because of Swift?

    It was the last day of registration before the election, so that probably was responsible for some of the uptick too.

    Who knows. But it’s plausible that some number of younger eligible voters will exercise their franchise because they’re inspired by Swift.

    All to the good. It’s long past time they stopped allowing their futures to be dictated by a bunch of old fogies like me who won’t even be around for it.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I think in the past she was following the line laid out by her “handlers” who were more concerned with her bottom line (and their cut of it) than they were concerned about her. The whole “Aryan Goddess Taylor Swift” thing should have been shut down from the git-go but they were so risk averse they allowed it to go unchallenged on social media. In what way did that enhance her image? Very puzzling to me.

    I think she got tired of those people and decided to speak for herself.

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  4. Timothy Watson says:

    Why were neo-Nazis fans of Taylor Swift when Swift is BFFs with Selena Gomez?

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Timothy Watson: They aren’t too bright.

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  6. Kylopod says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    Why were neo-Nazis fans of Taylor Swift when Swift is BFFs with Selena Gomez?

    And why are they fans of Donald Trump when he has a Jewish son-in-law? Having personal relationships with groups they hate doesn’t seem to bother them, when they’re convinced they’re being supported. What’s bizarre is why they viewed Swift in this way in the first place. She never did anything to suggest it. She engaged in no alt-right memes, collected no Nazi memorabilia. Aryan goddess? Well she’s tall and blonde. Unlike, say, Adele, her music isn’t in a strong or blatant way imitative of African American styles of music. And for the longest time she stayed silent about her political views or even her reaction to having a following among white nationalists. They’re always on the lookout for mainstream public figures they perceive are winking at them. According to an article I read, the pivotal moment when the WN community at large became strong Trump supporters wasn’t when he called Mexicans rapists or when he promoted birtherism, it was when he claimed not to know who David Duke was. In the case of Swift, though, they let their imaginations run away with them.

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  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Should celebrities use their influence in partisan politics?

    If only we could get the 2nd rate Reality TV celebrity in the WH to shut the fvck up.

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  8. KM says:

    It’s like the Willy Nelson thing – they’re shocked, SHOCKED the legendary hippie doesn’t espouse their ultra-conservative BS and live up to the illusion they built in their heads. Why do they think she’s an “Aryan Goddess”? Because she looks like their ideal and the fanboy-ing got out of control. These kinds of people assume their beliefs are the default state of humanity and thus EVERYONE thinks and believes what they do until they inevitably turn blood traitor by daring to point out how cray-cray it all is.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been mistaken for a con when I go out simply because I’m a little blonde white girl with soccer-momish traits. They start spouting off about Trump, MAGA, QAnon or other such nonsense and look at me like I shot their puppy when I call BS or show liberal leanings. I look like them ergo I must be one of the tribe; Swift looks like them therefore she must be an alt-right, MAGA worshiping Trumpkins. She was never a person to them – just a blank doll to project all their fantasies on, including the one that she supports their political ambitions while dancing around in skimpy clothes for them to drool over.

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  9. Gustopher says:

    It’s always sad when you learn that your heroes aren’t perfect. George Washington owned slaves, FDR ordered the internment of Japanese Americans, and now Taylor Swift isn’t a Nazi.

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  10. Blue Galangal says:

    @KM:

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been mistaken for a con when I go out simply because I’m a little blonde white girl with soccer-momish traits. They start spouting off about Trump, MAGA, QAnon or other such nonsense and look at me like I shot their puppy when I call BS or show liberal leanings.

    Same. I’m a forty-something plump blue-eyed white woman who carries the necessary accoutrements to work in my profession. It’s stunning the number of racists who’ll casually turn to me while we’re in line for something (e.g., at the license bureau) and make some incredibly horrible remark (“those people” only get their jobs because of affirmative action and they’re SO SLOW and IGNORANT – and they will literally say this in a normal tone of voice, not caring that the clerk can hear them), because I look like one of them. I like to counter such remarks with either oblivious bonhomie, e.g., “Oh, I know, this line is so slow. It’s a shame that customer [always a white person] didn’t bring what s/he needed to to make this go faster. I’m so glad we have someone like [clerk] looking out for us. Her daughter was my daughter’s first Sunday school teacher! Her mother certainly raised her right!” or, if I’m feeling less able to deal/make up something on the spot, I start speaking German at them with a bright, incurious face.

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  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    It’s funny how all the old white guys that have their panties in a twist over this Swift girl (doubt I’ve ever heard one of her songs) are more than happy to listen to whatever Ted Nugent or Kid Rock have to say.
    Republicans have a PhD* in hypocrisy.

    (*Piled Higher and Deeper)

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  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    The political cleavage may be 50-40, but the cultural split is more like 90-10. The culture has thoroughly rejected Trumpism, which was my hope two years ago. Aside from a handful of cranks like Kid Rock and one-hit-wonder Ted Nugent, (and whatever mental breakdown Kanye is having) cultural figures have lined up strongly behind Team Blue. This is the reason Trumpism is only a painful and disfiguring disease, not a fatal one. The broader American culture – TV, movies, books, music, emblematic corporations like Starbucks, Nike and Amazon – is Democratic.

    What does this tell you? Look to Nike. They made a clear bet in hiring Kaepernick, a bet on the young and against Trump. Trump is winning with old white males, old white women, religious nuts and Nazis. We’re winning with the young. Past/future.

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  13. grumpy realist says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Trump wins with some younger white males as well.

    Wonder if they’re going to be so happy when young women start loading up on the sharp pointy things and things that go bang and make it forcibly known that they don’t like groping and other forms of sexual assault. You try to grab my ass? I’ll break your fingers.

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  14. KM says:

    @James:

    But it’s plausible that some number of younger eligible voters will exercise their franchise because they’re inspired by Swift.

    We live in the age of social media and influencers. Trump and his ilk know this *extremely* well because that’s Donald’s shtick. That’s why he’s always on Twitter and cosies up to the latest “star” that will speak to him (looking at you, Kanye). Swift is a problem for them because she’s more popular then Trump by a HUGE margin. Who’s going to be up on somebody’s Instagram or Twitter feed and forefront in their minds – Donald or Taylor? Who is more likely to feature prominently in their lives? Who are they more likely to relate to, listen to? From the way the alt-right is freaking out, it’s pretty clear they know the answer to that.

    What’s more, her base isn’t 13 like Huckabee tried to claim but rather in their 20-30s by now. In other words, people who can vote or will be voting in the next election cycle. All it takes is a few to turn some red states purple or even blue; flipping something like MD would take less young women then a small-sized city suddenly realizing this isn’t some vague problem they hear about on the news in the background but a direct challenge to how they live their lives. If Swift manages to get a couple thousand young women in the mid-West or South to consider going Dem, some races are now going to lean blue. She doesn’t need to change the world – she just need to get you to “research” and realize how hosed you are if things keep going as is.

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  15. Moosebreath says:

    I think she just wanted to open a new front in her longstanding war with Kanye West.

    /sarcasm.

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  16. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Blue Galangal:

    Same. I don’t (remotely) fit the stereotype people tend to have regarding what “Jewish” looks like and I don’t have a “Jewish” last name. (Quite probably because of those hundreds of years of my family living in Germany and intermarrying with Germans before we fled for obvious reasons. ).

    It’s always amusing when some twit presumes that I’m a WASP and thinks they’re on safe ground to speak what they really think. The look on their faces when they get rhetorically thrown through the window is priceless.

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  17. Franklin says:

    the same grounds that a young Michael Jordan famously eschewed politics: Republicans buy music, too

    Michael Jordan, eh? Is there anything he couldn’t do? 🙂

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  18. Franklin says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Aside from a handful of cranks like Kid Rock and one-hit-wonder Ted Nugent …

    Note that these two gems both come from Michigan. You’re welcome?

    /I’d have to reluctantly give Nugent two hits, although I detest one of them.

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  19. Leonard says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Ted Nugent is not a one-hit wonder!

    Cat Scratch Fever
    Free for All
    Great White Buffalo
    High Enough
    Journey to the Center of the Mind
    Motor City Madhouse
    Stranglehold
    Wang Dang Sweet Poontang
    Wango Tango
    Yank Me, Crank Me

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  20. Kylopod says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Trump wins with some younger white males as well.

    The alt-right is heavily composed of young white males. But that doesn’t mean young white males, in general, tend to be Trump supporters.

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  21. Kylopod says:

    @Franklin: @Leonard: The term “one-hit wonder” gets thrown around a lot; what happens is that a band has a particular hit that becomes such a success that as the years pass by it’s the only one a lot of people remember and that the radio stations continue to play, even though the band technically had other songs that made the charts.

    For Nugent, “Cat Scratch Fever” is that song, though “Stranglehold” still gets plenty of air time on classic rock radio. Nugent was also part of the supergroup Damn Yankees, which itself had a string of hits but is best-remembered for the ballad “High Enough.” (That was one of those “power ballads” that were popular between the late ’80s and early ’90s.)

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  22. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Franklin:

    Is there anything he couldn’t do?

    Girls.

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  23. Timothy Watson says:

    @KM: @Blue Galangal: @HarvardLaw92:

    I just want to reinforce what the previous commenters have said: I’m 30-years-old, white, and have a country twang to my speech. It’s just amazing what other people have said to me assuming that I’m a racist asshole.

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  24. KM says:

    FYI, Huckabee’s asinine “13yr olds can’t vote” seems to be becoming the rallying cry / meme for the anti-Swifties. They really can’t help themselves in being dismissive and rude to potentially MILLIONS of voters. Here’s a hint for the alt-right: women and men of all ages listen to Swift. Yes, men do too and they’re not all gay – after all, the Nazis loved her till like 5 mins ago and they’re all alpha male types, right? Yes, adult women listen to her because they grew up with her and still like the music. Yes, voting age or approaching it young people like Swift and obsessively follow her on social media – this will have some kind of impact whether you like it or not.

    It’s like dismissing video games as a kids only thing. MAYBE that was true back in the 80’s but the average gamer is well over voting age today and middle-aged men break out the latest Madden or CoD to pick fights with 13 yr olds daily. Conservatives in general have a real hard time understanding cultural shifts and that people don’t abandon interests just because they hit an arbitrary age limit.

    Swift reaches much, much, MUCH further then “13 yr old girls” and much like with the Beyhive, piss off fans at your own peril. Huckabee insulted a LOT more people then he intended and a lot of them are – or were – Republican leaning. It’s like insulting a beloved sport team; it cuts deeper then you think and that grudge can linger.

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  25. Gustopher says:

    @KM:

    Swift is a problem for them because she’s more popular then Trump by a HUGE margin. Who’s going to be up on somebody’s Instagram or Twitter feed and forefront in their minds – Donald or Taylor?

    Trump is much, much better at influencing his followers by tapping into their anger, and creating controversy, and bleeding out into the rest of the culture.

    Taylor Swift has been basically positive, with a few petty fueds here and there, and the only things political that she has done was sue a groping scumbag for a dollar (which shouldn’t be political, but unfortunately is) and this.

    I don’t think she has figured out how to translate her success and popularity into influence yet (or she is uncomfortable doing so, or has been holding off, or….).

    And some of her music is very catchy even for old men. Blank Space is a great song.

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  26. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod:

    The alt-right is heavily composed of young white males. But that doesn’t mean young white males, in general, tend to be Trump supporters.

    A lot more young white men lean conservative than you suspect, and will vote for Trumpists even if they don’t support Trump, or are part of the alt-right. They don’t really think about it.

    I think that a celebrity of Swift’s caliber could do a lot of good with a message of “why would you hook up with someone who doesn’t support your rights?”

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  27. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    The term “one-hit wonder” gets thrown around a lot; what happens is that a band has a particular hit that becomes such a success that as the years pass by it’s the only one a lot of people remember and that the radio stations continue to play, even though the band technically had other songs that made the charts.

    Plenty of bands and artists with long careers are remembered, if at all, for one song:

    Kansas “Dust in the Wind”
    Led Zeppelin “Stairway to Heaven”
    Bonnie Tyler “Total Eclipse of the Heart”
    Jethro Tull “Thick as a Brick”

    Of those, I can tell you Tyler had other songs, such as “Here She Comes” (part of the soundtrack of “Metropolis”), “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” and “Faster Than the Speed of Night.”

    Of the rest, I know only the one song.

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  28. Mikey says:

    @Leonard: Of those, only Cat Scratch Fever and Stranglehold are legitimate “hits” by Nugent as Nugent. And Stranglehold is way too long and monotonous, so I’m not sure how it even made it at all.

    “High Enough” was certainly a hit, but he was just part of Damn Yankees. “Journey to the Center of the Mind” was Amboy Dukes. But I’ll have to give it to you on that one, it’s a great song and Nugent did found the band.

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  29. Tlaloc says:

    @Kathy:

    Kansas “Dust in the Wind”

    uh… Wayward Son? The song you still hear if for no reason than because Supernatural plays it multiple times a year over it’s 14+ seasons.

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  30. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Mikey: \
    I cringe everytime I hear it…but I like Great White Buffalo.

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  31. Leonard says:

    @Mikey: Half his songs sound the same but they’re technically diferent songs. Or at least have different words. Exce;pt for “wang”.

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  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Leonard: You’re right, one bad rock after another. Can’t even call them songs.

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  33. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: Funny, the only Jethro Tull song I can remember hearing on radio was “Locomotive Breath.” It’s a staple of classic rock stations.

    There’s also a tendency–and this was especially common when I was growing up in the ’80s and ’90s–for there to be a rock or metal band with a long catalog of hits but that would be geared more to their hard rock fan base, then they’d release a much softer song that would get more widespread mainstream attention (especially on AC radio stations) so that for some people it would be the only thing they know by the group. The aforementioned “High Enough” by Damn Yankees is an example. Here are several others off the top of my head:

    “Winds of Change” by the Scorpions
    “Africa” by Toto
    “Jump” by Van Halen
    “More than Words” by Extreme
    “Home Sweet Home” by Motley Crue
    “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith
    “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica
    “Love Bites” by Def Leppard
    “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns n Roses

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  34. David M says:

    The calls from the right for celebrities to stay out of politics shouldn’t be met with anything but laughter and mocking.

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  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Timothy Watson: Because Selena Gomez is hot, which qualifies her as honorary white folk.

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  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Stopped listening to radio a while after I stopped having 2+ hour commutes in Seattle (so, about 92 or so). Don’t know Taylor Swift from Elizabeth Taylor or Jonathan Taylor Thomas so I’m not a fan, but I will say that anything that transforms her from the image I am familiar with–a young woman who may be most famous for having nanoseconds-long liaisons with various men only to write songs with disparaging allusions to those men later–is bound to demonstrate that she is a more complex person than we (at least I) imagine and will, therefore, only be good for her.

    As for the Tennessee Republicans who attempted to put her in her place, your words resonated with your fanbois, but I doubt any of her audience even knows that you responded.

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  37. Blue Galangal says:

    @KM @HarvardLaw92 @Timothy Watson: In my experience, willingness to verbalize/publish such sentiments has become increasingly common over the past 5-6 years, especially among the racists who don’t leave their rich-white-county-Fox-watching bubble much and then travel 15 miles south to a city with a substantial proportion of minorities and start spouting off about “those people” as one of “those people” is coming over to the table with their food.

    I’ve been following the story of the young man whose mother posted him as a #HimToo poster child, and while the young man has ably handled the situation, and Twitter has risen magnificently to the occasion, I was struck by what he and his brother said in the news reports about this. Their mother had been progressive/liberal when they were growing up. They seem genuinely dismayed. They “don’t know what happened.”

    I can tell them what happened. Likely she lives in an all-white bubble and watches Fox News, reads Russian-planted memes on FB, has her fear stoked by psychological gambits on both Fox and FB, and passes all of this along uncritically and unthinkingly to her crowd of like-minded friends, and has no one (now that her sons have apparently left home) to challenge her thinking. I’ve seen the exact same thing happen with my once-liberal, Vietnam-War-protesting “hippie” parents. Now they’re in their mid-70s and their FB feed is a cautionary tale (and, moreover, clear evidence that there was/is a disinformation campaign that no mere humans could hope to counter unless they had Whack-a-Mole superpowers).

    I don’t know why, exactly, some are more susceptible to this fear than others. Part may be that their privilege could lead to a lack of empathy; part may be repeated exposure to lies stoking fear and xenophobia. One commonality I’ve noticed that is striking is how lacking in empathy many are. (They’ll complain about “Obamaphones” and no amount of “the program was started under Bush” will get through, but sometimes if you ask them how a mom working two jobs is supposed to get in touch with her kids and their school and her work nowadays, they will – on occasion – stop and think about that.)

    From time to time (less frequently of late, I confess) I hold out the hope that when George Soros finally gets his act together and takes over the country and the Fox crowd can be sent to the FEMA re-education camps under the Wal-marts in Texas – well, it has been proven that empathy can be taught.

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  38. Blue Galangal says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I can’t say I’ve paid much attention to Taylor Swift either except to register that my millennial daughter and her friends like her a lot and occasionally I get to hear songs and anecdotes about her. But I will say one thing that has registered with me is that Taylor Swift refuses to get into the “promotional” cattiness to tear down other women, and while she got flack for taking on Spotify (because she already had her millions), she was speaking up then for a group she felt did not have power. So my daughter and her friends view Taylor Swift as a positive influence for artists and for women, and as someone who walks the walk of feminism.

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  39. Tyrell says:

    @Moosebreath: I will overlook her comments and the comments from Kanye West. Has she heard of the Dixie Chicks flap from years ago?
    I will stick to Willie, Johnny Cash, CCR, and Hank Jr.
    “Got nothing in my brain” (Taylor Swift, “Shake it Off”)
    She does have some nice videos.

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  40. rachel says:

    @Kathy:

    Plenty of bands and artists with long careers are remembered, if at all, for one song:

    Kansas “Dust in the Wind”
    Led Zeppelin “Stairway to Heaven”
    Bonnie Tyler “Total Eclipse of the Heart”
    Jethro Tull “Thick as a Brick”

    I bet there are more that you remember if you think a bit.
    Kansas: Carry on Wayward Son, Point of Know Return, Play the Game Tonight, The Wall…
    Led Zeppelin: Immigrant Song, When the Levee Breaks, Kashmir, Fool in the Rain, Trampled Under Foot, Black Dog, Houses of the Holy, Over the Hills and Far Away…
    Bonnie Tyler: I never really listened to her.
    Jethro Tull: Locomotive Breath, Aqualung, Cold Wind to Valhalla, Songs from the Wood, Bungle in the Jungle (I remember getting sick of this one because it played over and over on the radio even though the chorus is so stupid. Grrr.), Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll, Cross-Eyed Mary…

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  41. Franklin says:

    @Kathy: I vaguely agree on Kansas and Tyler. But I would think the Jethro Tull song people would remember is Aqualung, if they only knew one.

    But Led Zeppelin? Christ, Kathy, I assure you that 99% of people over the age of 10 probably know at least five of their songs. They’re still used constantly on car commercials and everything else.

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  42. Kylopod says:

    @Franklin: As a Zeppelin fan myself, I admit the idea of anyone calling them a “one-hit wonder” sounds like someone needs to put away the ganja. That said, there’s no question “Stairway to Heaven” has tended to overshadow their other work in the minds of many. I mentioned earlier how it’s common for a hard rock or metal group to have one song that’s softer than all the rest, which goes on to enjoy the most mainstream success so that certain audiences aren’t aware of the band’s other body of work. “Stairway to Heaven” may be one of the earliest examples of that phenomenon.

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  43. DrDaveT says:

    @Kathy:

    Jethro Tull “Thick as a Brick”

    I was sorta almost with you up to this point, though I still hear “Carry On My Wayward Son” at least as often as “Dust in the Wind”. But…

    I don’t know anyone who isn’t a die-hard Tull fan who’s even heard of “Thick as a Brick”. But everyone knows “Locomotive Breath” (even if they don’t know what it’s called), and lots of people who don’t listen to Tull deliberately nevertheless are familiar with some combination of “Living in the Past” (their top US chart hit), “Aqualung”, “Bungle in the Jungle”, “The Minstrel in the Gallery”, “Witch’s Promise”, “Too Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young to Die”, and half a dozen others. Heck, I’ll bet more Americans would recognize “Bourée” than “Thick”.

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