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A Study In Stagnation: Taylor Swift

Why Swift's latest single suggests she hasn't come very far

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A Study In Stagnation

Taylor Swift’s newest single—Look What You Made Me Do—debuted last night after a prolonged silence from the country-turned-pop star. While Swift’s reputation of churning out catchy tunes is still intact, her latest release strikes a note that rings bitter and dishonest.

The song allegedly focuses on the protracted feud between Kanye West and Swift—a conflict that culminated in Swift being painted a liar. While the jury is still out as to Swift’s culpability, her Kanye “diss” track comes across as a weak attempt to relieve her of any personal responsibility. With the oft-repeated line “Look what you made me do,” Swift merely echoes the victim/revenge narrative she has been crooning for years. The incessant repetition of this line reads as an attempt to hypnotize listeners and render them accomplices in marketing her victimhood. This childish tactic, on top of her tired narrative, is fatiguing at best.

This comes as a disappointment as Swift recently graced the headlines as a strong-willed victim’s advocate. She battled charges from a Colorado radio host who allegedly groped her during a meet and greet and as a result, lost his job. During the trial, Swift confidently refused to yield to the narrative her accuser attempted to peddle. Her appearance in court was justly lauded as she embraced the power of her influence to impact an issue that has left many women without justice.

One might have hoped that her strength in the courtroom foreshadowed a transition that would be echoed in her music—her primary avenue of influence. Instead, Swift retreated to worn-out, petty feuds that suggest she still has some growing-up to do.

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