OPINION: The many faces of Taylor Swift

Nicole Leonard


Taylor Swift is the queen of rebranding herself, but is she actually changing anything beyond the melody of a song or the nature of her style?

Swift’s ill-contrived attempts to alter the public’s perception of her have the singular effect of monopolizing all of entertainment media coverage for the weeks that follow. She’s polarizing and worthy of intrigue. The problem, however, is that every new Taylor reeks of contradiction and misdirection.

There’s no denying the massive fandom surrounding her name, but therein lies the the most troublesome quality of fame. People either want nothing to do with you, or they want to become everything that you are.

If you look barely beneath the surface of Swift’s famous image, you’ll find a young adult desperately struggling to prove herself as something she’s not. The character flaws that persist in Taylors of old and new are the true definitive qualities of her persona. The public has consistently categorized her by a neediness to bury those who wronged her and an inability to take responsibility. She’s always the victim and never the culprit.

Every time Swift is called out for creating her own victimization, a new era of Taylor is born. Every new era is an excuse to generate a new brand of music. Every time, the fans are more than willing to vigorously support her.

As Swift’s career continued over the years, her lyrics began to lack the storytelling quality that critics originally lauded. Instead, with the creation of every persona, the lyricism she produces reflects more of a bubblegum pop formula. The degradation of her musical quality is curiously disproportionate to the escalation of her fame status. No matter what she does, she’s untouchable.

Swift’s fans defend and encourage her with vivacious dedication. But there is a price to pay when young girls idolize a person with such easily manipulable character. When Swift’s A-list status is almost compromised by her claims at victimization and scandals of the sort, she reinvents herself.

Maybe it’s a defense mechanism that allows her to find confidence in herself. Maybe she’s grasping at straws in a desperate attempt to remain relevant. The fact of the matter is she’s never actually changing the core values defining her character. It’s a front and a marketing tactic.

Her most recent transformation is the result of a shift in the object of her anger. She managed to maneuver her way out of the pigeon-holed genre of break-up music. Now she has aimed her sights at a larger audience. It’s not just boyfriends and mean girls who deserve to get their just desserts; it’s the collective of media that continue to expose her that needs a healthy dose of karma.

She is proving to the world that a finessed deflection of blame and a penchant for revenge establish a formula for success. As long as you can reinvent your look and produce mediocre music that portrays you in a positive light, you’re worthy of the praise of fans everywhere.

Taylor Swift purports the false reality that authenticity is the antithesis of public approval. That is the image the world needs to focus on so that we can go about our lives without the persisting notion that false idols are worthy of our highest esteem.