It wasn’t all that long ago that manners dictated never talking about politics or religion. Now, it seems, politics is all we’re capable of talking about about. Indeed, refusing to talk about politics is seen as a political statement in and of itself. Pure fun, as it were, is out.
Gone are the days when Americans could simply seek diversion from the grind of everyday life in sports or entertainment. Celebrities were largely unknown beings whom we could project our joys, hopes, and jealousy upon. Their glamorous lifestyles and tabloid drama provided plenty for us to ogle and envy. Now everything is a billboard for a political opinion and celebrities must be mouthpieces for a cause.
Some celebrities have pushed back at the idea of classification, only to find themselves the targets of the voracious political class, eager to consume any who would amplify their message. Chief among these political agnostics is TayTay herself, Taylor Swift.
During the 2016 campaign, Swift received a relentless barrage of hate for using her talents to produce and perform music—heaven forbid—rather than jump into the debate over who should be president.
“Despite her stated support for women’s causes,” the Daily Beast’s Amy Zimmerman wrote, “Swift has yet to publicly endorse Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. . . With all that time Swift and her squad have spent since Sunday urging fans to focus on issues that really matter, the pop superstar could have actually directed some much-needed millennial attention toward HRC.”
Swift never spilled the beans, but that didn’t stop the media from speculating. The New York Times’ went so far as to wonder whether the “off-the-shoulder look” that she wore in a photo she posted of herself on Instagram at a sting station “told everyone exactly who she voted for.”
“The shoulder-less top is apparently a reference to an Instagram post by Lena Dunham who just days ago posted a photo composite of herself and Hillary wearing the same shoulder-less style sweater with a caption endorsing Clinton,” the article argued.
Unfortunately, that bit of nonsense didn’t clear up her political leanings to the satisfaction of the political killjoys who demand to know. If anything, Trump’s election has only directed more acrimony at the starlet.
Slate ignored the question of her political leanings altogether, arguing, “Whether or not she is a Trump supporter, she is an embodiment of Trump culture.” Junkee, who apparently reports from a different earth than the rest of us, argued that “so bad was the backlash to being exposed as a fraud that Swift spent the entire year more or less in hiding,” then opined that if “Taylor wants her career back, there’s one thing she has to do: renounce Donald Trump.”
Sadly, in the pantheon of political criticism of Swift, these examples were fairly tame. Take, as an example, Vice, which wondered whether she was a “closeted conservative, privately harboring the desire to Make America Great Again” and whether her silence was due to an unwillingness to lose the business of neo-Nazis. “Their swastikas may be red but their money is still green,” the author wrote in one jaw-dropping line. Unfortunately, such sentiment wasn’t an outlier.
The Daily Beast went beyond the pale, arguing that if “you’re not overtly on board with the resistance, then you’re tacitly chill with being proclaimed an Aryan goddess,” a not-so-subtle and utterly baseless hint that Swift caters to Nazis.