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Once Again, Taylor Swift Can’t Claim Ignorance

Taylor Swift performs at the BBMAs
Photograph: Getty Pictures

The Billboard Music Awards have been an enormous night time for comebacks. The newly reunited JoBros (and the #JSisters) carried out a medley of latest 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.

“One in every of this stuff shouldn’t be like the opposite” #BBMAs

— クリス RULES (@ChrisRules_) Might 2, 2019

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. Consistent with #Beychella, T-Swift’s BBMA efficiency has been dubbed #Mayochella (which, LOL).

What within the Melania copying Michelle’s speech is that this. #Mayochella

— Courtney Enlow (@courtenlow) Might 2, 2019

— Kathleen Newman-Bremang (@KathleenNB) Might 2, 2019

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 an extended (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?”

So Taylor Swift stole from Beyoncé who stole from Gwen Stefani who stole from Fleetwood Mac within the 1970s?
Dumb Asses.#Beyonce #TaylorSwift #DumbFukcz

— MichaelRapaport (@MichaelRapaport) Might 2, 2019

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

Taylor Swift did a drumline earlier than Beyonce at Coachella. Sit back. #BillboardMusicAwards2019

— KINSEY SCHOFIELD (@kinseyschofield) Might 2, 2019

First off, Beyoncé’s efficiency was a motion

Fan reactions apart, what we *can’t* put apart is a few critical essential considering. As a result of, it’s ridiculous to imagine that Tay’s BBMAs efficiency happened in a vacuum with out a minimum of *one* individual on her staff 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 all the things 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“).

twitter’s wild as a result of there are ppl on right here saying Beyoncé did not invent marching bands and all of us noticed when she did

— Desus Good (@desusnice) Might 2, 2019

However Homecoming wasn’t nearly that one time at band camp. Bey’s iconic Coachella efficiency paid homage, via her use of drumlines, to HBCU’s (traditionally Black schools 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 schools and universities (generally referred to as PWIs—’predominantly white establishments’), however they’ve turn into an important a part of American tradition.” And in paying homage to the Black collegiate expertise— in all the things from the outfits, berets and forged of largely all-Black performers—Bey paid homage to Blackness and the Black expertise as an entire.

Tack that on to the truth that Queen B was the *first* Black, feminine performer to headline Coachella *and* introduced a set of latest scholarships for college kids at particular HBCUs after each Coachella performances, it’s indeniable that what she did with Homecoming goes past a daily 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 working towards for eight-months (after simply giving start!) 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 flawed. It not solely cheapens and diminishes Swift’s personal efficiency (which, truthfully, appeared 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 staff would have needed to have recognized that. The worth of Netflix might have gone up, however we’re positive T-Swift can afford the $16. And Twitter—which has been buzzing because the launch of the “Formation” singer’s doc—is free.

Cease being daft with this Beyoncé / Taylor drumline factor. Sure, artists have included marching bands/drumlines in performances earlier than however TIMING is every thing. The world has been BUZZING since #Homecoming. This ain’t no coincidence.

— Wanna🏁 (@WannasWorld) Might 2, 2019

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

It’s arduous to not consider 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 *quite a bit* of parallels drawn between the 2 performers all the best way again in 2017, throughout Swift’s Status period and Beyoncé’s post-Lemonade.

Oh wow. Forgot all about this. She actually can’t assist herself. Together with her lengthy again.

— April (@ReignOfApril) Might 2, 2019

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

Think about considering this wasn’t apparent. I’ve to snicker. #Mayochella

— April (@ReignOfApril) Might 2, 2019

In comparison side-by-side, it’s arduous *not* to see the similarities. Bey’s “Formation” appears—which once more, pulled closely from her tradition and background, that includes emblems of the South—appear virtually mirrored in a nonetheless of Swift in an identical 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 a number of good, for each her followers and the music business, however this not the primary time she’s did not acknowledge and take accountability for her actions, or the repercussions of them.

In October 2017, author Meghan Herning wrote concerning the singer’s reputation amongst white supremacists for on-line weblog PopFront, suggesting she’s linked to the alt-right. Per PopFront, the submit “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 track ‘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 are usually not revered world leaders, they’ve an enormous viewers and their music typically 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 workforce 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 reminiscent of Vice, Konbini and Complicated have finished 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 duty. By failing to acknowledge and handle the—albeit unintentional—results of her music, Swift not solely brushes over a critically massive challenge, however doesn’t do something to discourage it.

And this tendency to haplessly shrug has prolonged in to her feuds, the place Swift has again and again performed harmless; unaware of why different celebs, together with her ex Calvin Harris, would go after her—and she or he’s been referred to as out for it. And let’s not overlook her entire ascension into her popularity 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 received right into a feud with T-Swift over a some contentious (and, tbh, misogynistic) lyrics within the former’s music, “Well-known.” Upon the track’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 displaying West in-studio, clearing the lyric with Swift by way of telephone. From there, the thought 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 right down to the Queen of music, however you possibly can’t nod to one thing you don’t have a connection to—or no less than not a significant one which isn’t gimmicky and clearly meant for tweets or gross sales.

*faucets microphone* you’re conscious that music business energy gamers like Taylor and Beyoncé are conscious of one another’s subsequent strikes & that Taylor incorporating a drumline 2 weeks after Homecoming got here out was in all probability manufactured to make us all speak about them each extra, proper?

— Glennis (@Glennis_LaRoe) Might 2, 2019

And that brings in *an entire* different factor to this contentious difficulty: 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 income off the onerous work of Beyoncé, a Black lady, in addition to Black tradition. Which in flip contributes to a really lengthy historical past of white individuals 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 consists of many white artists taking Black songs and Black aesthetics, throwing white faces on them, and making an attempt to cross 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 workforce ought to have recognized that that is how it might be perceived and suggested her towards it.”

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

I don’t know if y’all are seeing this however Taylor Swift is gentrifying Beyonce’s Coachella efficiency proper now

— Information Lee (@Chuck_Des) Might 2, 2019

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

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


— Andrew Makadsi (@amakadsi) Might 2, 2019


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

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