Taylor Swift is an internationally recognized popstar who has created a massive fanbase of die-hard “Swifties.” Many of these individuals have been following her career since her debut album, which was released in 2006. Over the last nearly 17 years of her career she has created ten albums, produced documentaries, as well as had multiple record-breaking world tours. Due to a contract dispute with her first record label, she lost the rights to her first six albums she released. To reclaim her art, she began re-recording these first six albums in 2021 with the re-release of her second studio album Fearless.
Along with a remastering of her original track list, these re-released albums have included what Swift herself has named “vault tracks.” These are songs that did not make the original album release or get included on deluxe editions. I am a huge fan of Taylor Swift and admit that the songs that were “locked away in the vault” make the new album much more exciting than just a re-record of the same old songs. This past weekend Taylor Swift released the remastering of her fifth studio album titled 1989. Along with the original 16 songs that were released in the deluxe edition of 1989 back in 2014, five vault tracks were included in this release. This should be exciting, however Swifties have taken the contexts of the songs too literally and have created unnecessary internet drama.
Taylor Swift fans have quite a reputation. They are known to be very loyal to Taylor and treat her tweets as their New Testament. While it is not uncommon for people to idolize their favorite artists, Swifties are a great example of a fanbase that takes it to an unnecessary, unsafe, obscene level of obsession. Notable events where Taylor Swift fans wreak havoc are during album release days and the weeks immediately following. This is where they decide it is their personal responsibility to get revenge on Taylor’s ex boyfriends by harassing them and going as far as sending death threats to other women these men have been involved with after the breakup. This is inappropriate and concerning behavior that should be reflected upon and changed.
When an album by any other artist is released some typical comments fans may make are that of sound quality opinions, dissecting lyrics and reviews of their overall enjoyment of the album. In opposition, Taylor Swift fans decide to terrorize the unfortunate person who seems to be the target of the breakup songs released. This past weekend with the re-release of 1989, a vault track was included titled “Is It Over Now?” I personally think this song is very fun, the lyrics are relatable for many, the beat is perfect to dance along to and the production of the track is great quality. This song has cost Harry Styles over 100,000 followers on Instagram. Many artists use social platforms to market their upcoming projects. On his professional platform where he discusses his career milestones, people are leaving comments accusing him of being unfaithful in his relationship with Taylor Swift ten years ago.
Any sane person can see why this is ridiculous. This has affected Harry Styles’ image in the public eye. He is being harassed, ridiculed, and embarrassed over a song that does not even mention him by name, nor can anybody prove it was written about him. Hundreds of thousands of people are inserting themselves into this highly personal, past relationship, to give their opinion on why he is a terrible human being. This should not be currently affecting his career or professional image as the vault tracks were written at the time of the original album release, so, this track was written before 2014. This song was shared by Taylor as an expression of her art, not as a personal invitation to do her dirty work and get revenge on her ex-boyfriend.
Taylor Swift has the creative freedom to write and release whatever she pleases, however she should be aware of the intense, overdramatic reactions her fanbase has in her defense. Harry Styles is not the only victim of this treatment, other actors and musicians who have faced this public scrutiny include Jake Gyllenhaal, John Mayer, Joe Alwyn and Joe Jonas. While it is entirely possible these men were not great partners, or that they broke Taylors heart, that does not entitle the entire fan base to ruin their public image years after the individual relationships conclude. It is weird that the fans are inserting themselves into the relationships of celebrities to this extent, and while it is not all fans, in the case of Harry Style there are at least 100,000 people expressing their hatred. Music is art and that is what should remain, it should not be evidence used to tarnish another professional’s image or fuel for threats against someone’s personal safety.
Taylor swift fans have reached a level of obsession that is genuinely concerning for those involved in Taylor’s personal life. Recently, they have been showing up outside of events that are not appropriate for mobs of fans to infiltrate. An example of this is the private wedding of a close friend of Taylor’s, Jack Antonoff, on August 19th of this year. Considering he is a producer as well as performing artist himself, he has his own fan base that could have been interested in catching a glimpse of him, however it was noticed that Swifties were those swarming the street outside of his wedding venue. There were other highly esteemed individuals in attendance at the wedding, but Swift’s name was being chanted by those outside, disrupting this happy day in this couples’ life. In addition to showing up at personal events for the artist, fans tend to congregate outside of the New York apartment building to take photos. This was a major problem after it was announced that she and her long-term partner, Joe Alwyn, had decided to part ways in April. While this is odd behavior in itself, crowding around the apartment building’s doors below her penthouse, Swift had not even been residing in this building at the time of the news. The penthouse was advertised for sale before the word of breakup caused people to meet up on Cornelia Street, NY to mourn the end of the celebrity couples’ relationship. The fans had been disrupting the lives of those who innocently reside in this building. I could not imagine the discomfort the residents felt with these strangers lining up outside of their building. This is an invasive act of ignorance towards the wellbeing of anyone who was just living their daily lives.
I am not a Taylor Swift hater; I think she is an incredible artist with a very impressive discography. She has been smashing records with her recent album releases and continues to pave the way for upcoming female artists. She inspires millions of women around the world to stand up for themselves within male dominated societal roles. Though I am very supportive of Taylor Swift, I do feel that a portion of her fan base has been demonstrating inappropriate and invasive behavior. She has noted that she does not support these actions from fans and has asked for respect of her privacy. This behavior is not that of all her fans, and it is not specific to only Taylor Swift, for example the Beatles also had a massive following that demonstrated similar behavior. I am simply writing to express that some fans need to take a look at how they are choosing to show their support for their idol and reflect on whether this is appropriate behavior in the context and consideration of other people’s lives.
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