We Need To Stop Being Surprised When Taylor Swift Acts Petty And Vindictive

Taylor Swift released “Look What You Made Me Do” last night, and predictably the internet went insane. We knew a “new” Taylor Swift was coming, but how new was she really? Taylor herself said “the old Taylor is dead,” and yet, she’s still out here, not-so-subtly shading people in her music and acting like she’s completely blameless. I mean, even the very title puts the blame on whoever the subject of this song is (I think we can all assume it’s Kim and Kanye, right? Let’s assume it’s Kim and Kanye). The song title is not “Look What I Did”. It’s “Look What You Made Me Do,” as if Taylor Swift isn’t an adult who can make her own decisions and choose to take the high road and not retaliate. As if Taylor Swift herself hadn’t begged to be excluded from the very narrative she consciously kept going for years, and is fueling right now, with this very song. And while many people were disappointed that this self-proclaimed “new Taylor” is really just more of the same Taylor, I wasn’t. I wasn’t surprised. There’s a quote by Maya Angelou that goes, “When someone shows you who you are, believe them.”

We need to stop acting surprised when Taylor Swift acts petty and vindictive. This is who she is. She’s been showing us for years.

As we’ve previously covered extensively, Taylor Swift has been writing about ex-boyfriends and people in her life since 2006—that’s over a decade ago. That in itself is not a bad thing. She’s an artist; that’s what artists do. Love is a great writing inspiration. But there have been times when she’s crossed the line. There have been instances in which Taylor has reportedly written about people who she wasn’t romantically involved with, sometimes people she wasn’t even particularly close with, yet people she perceived had “wronged” her in one way or another. The prime example of this occurred way back in 2010.  Before there was the Katy Perry feud, before there was “Bad Blood”, there was Camilla Belle and “Better Than Revenge”.

The alleged story behind “Better Than Revenge” goes like this: In 2008, Taylor Swift reportedly dated Joe Jonas. Shortly after their breakup (which he reportedly did over the phone, a heinous offense back in 2008), he reportedly started dating Camilla Belle. Taylor Swift’s next album in 2010 and contained a little song called “Better Than Revenge”, which many people believe to be about Camilla. It includes some choice lyrics such as:

Whoa indeed, Taylor. Not only was that slut shaming to say she’s better known for the things she does on the mattress, it was just untrue at the time. Camilla Belle starred in in 2006, and she went on to star in a number of films between 2008-2010: (2008), (2009),  (2010). So no, she wasn’t better known for “things that she does on the mattress.” She continues:

And there we have it, right there. Was she upset because she was heartbroken that her boyfriend dumped her, as most people would understandably be? No—she was mad because someone took her “toy”, possession. Something she believes belong to her. Is it the operating emotion one of loss, or one of entitlement? And then she comes right out and says it: “There is nothing I do better than revenge.” So then, why were we surprised about “Bad Blood”? Why are we surprised now? Taylor explicitly told us, in plain English, that she’s in the business of revenge, that retaliation is her forte. She has another lyric, later on in the song, about always getting the last word. It’s eerily applicable here. More than a full year after the initial Kim-Kanye incident heard ’round the world, here is Taylor, getting the last word.

To her credit, Taylor has since backtracked on some of the lyrics in “Better Than Revenge”, saying, “I was 18 when I wrote that. That’s the age you are when you think someone can actually take your boyfriend. Then you grow up and realize no one can take someone from you if they don’t want to leave.”

Still, that’s not exactly an apology. And furthermore, that wouldn’t be the last time she would use her music to shade people for seemingly minor wrongdoings in some weird scorched Earth philosophy. There was “Dear John,” attacking John Mayer for…being a shitty boyfriend even though at the time he was notorious for being a douchebag? Being older than Taylor and still dating her even though she would go on to date an 18-year-old? Unclear. Then there was “Bad Blood”, which seems to be about Katy Perry “stealing” some backup dancers from Taylor…even though she supposedly acknowledged that “no one can take someone from you if they don’t want to leave.” 

And now here we are at “Look What You Made Me Do.” And to be fair, this is only one single off the album. Might the album show some personal growth? Might it show Taylor taking some responsibility for the things that happen to her? Might she finally hang up her victim complex, or at least give it a rest? Maybe. But I’m not going to hold my breath, and you shouldn’t either. Let’s stop with the faux-outrage, with the zealous coverage. Taylor Swift has showed us who she is, she showed us a long time ago, so it’s about time we believe her.

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