Where to begin? It comes as a surprise to absolutely nobody that Taylor Swift has a pretty strong vice grip on her public image; you have only to look to the highly-choreographed coverage of her faster-than-a-New-York-Minute relationship with Tom Hiddleston to see evidence of that. However, the ongoing feud between Swift, Kimye, a pretty big handful of her exes, and countless others that seem to be coming out of the woodwork is starting to paint the real picture, and this week, none other than Kim Kardashian herself may have put the final nail in Taylor Swift’s holier-than-thou public image by basically beating her at her own game when she released some previously unseen video on Snapchat.
But before we get to all of that, I think we need to back-up. Trying to pick-out exactly what has been going here on is difficult, to the point that even I, a seasoned crusty gossip columnist, had to enlist the help of some of the available timelines on the internet to figure out the ins and outs of what I’m calling the “Taylor Swift is a Big Fat Liar Scandal”. With that in mind, courtesy of some of the larger entertainment outlets like People, Vox, and even Time Magazines.
2009 – Swift won a VMA award at the MTV Music Awards for Best Female Music Video, prompting Kanye West to jump up on the stage in the middle of her speech and deliver the now-infamous “Ima let you finish” interruption speech about how Beyoncé had one of the best videos of the year – implying that she basically should have won.
The next day, West apologised live on the Jay Leno show. He said at the time,
It was rude, period. I don’t try to justify it, ’cause I was in the wrong. Dealing with the fact that I hurt someone or took anything away, you know, from a talented artist – or from anyone – because I only wanted to help people.
In early September, West also called Swift personally to apologise to her, which she accepted. About a week later, Swift released the song “Innocent”, ostensibly about West (because all of her songs are about someone who has recently wronged her. Because, of course).
Who you are is not what you did
You’re still an innocent…It’s OK, life is a tough crowd
32 and still growing up now
2010 – Kanye is still talking about the incident, at this point having realized that there really is no such thing as bad publicity in Hollywood. When asked about it by Ellen Degeneres on her popular television show, he puts it down to “sincerity and alcohol”.
2015 – West and Swift bury the hatchet and appear in the above photograph (among others) at the Grammy awards. West even announces a tentative plan for the two to collaborate on a project, and sung Swift’s praises.
Any artist with an amazing point of view, perspective, fanbase, I’m down to get in the studio and work. I don’t discriminate.
A week later Swift and West were spotted having dinner together at The Spotted Pig in NYC. When asked about the newly-founded friendship/collaboration, Swift has this to say.
I feel like I wasn’t ready to be friends with him until I felt like he had some sort of respect for me, and he wasn’t ready to be friends with me until he had some sort of respect for me — so it was the same issue, and we both reached the same place at the same time. Kanye and I both reached a place where he would say really nice things about my music and what I’ve accomplished, and I could ask him how his kid North is doing. … We haven’t planned a collaboration… But hey, I like him as a person. And that’s a really good, nice first step, a nice place for us to be.
In August, Swift presented West with a VMA award, even referencing the “Ima let you finish” incident from ’09.
2016 – In February, West debuts his “Life of Pablo” album, featuring the now-infamous song “Famous”, which contains the following lyric.
I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex
Why? I made that bitch famous.
Taylor Swift took issue with the song, as I suppose anyone would, and there was a huge backlash against West, particularly in the Swift camp, who has a rather, shall we say, rabidly dedicated fan base. however, West insisted that that he’d had Swift’s approval for releasing the song all along. In several statements on Twitter, which as we all know is West’s method of choice for “getting the word out there” (and freaking out), he had this to say.
I did not diss Taylor Swift, I’ve never dissed her…
I called Taylor and had a hour long convo with her about the line and she thought it was funny and gave her blessings
Swift’s camp however, retaliated and had this to say about West’s claim
Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single ‘Famous’ on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, ‘I made that bitch famous.’
The plot thickens.
A few weeks later at the Grammy awards, Swift won the Grammy for Album of the Year. Naturally, she used the Grammys platform to try and get a shot in at West.
As the first woman to win Album of the Year at the Grammys twice, I want to say to all the young women out there—there are going to be people along the way who are going to try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame.
But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you’re going, you’ll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there. And that will be greatest feeling in the world.
It’s all sounding a bit prepared, isn’t it? Saccharine and heavy-handed sure, but at the time, we thought that once again, poor Taylor had been wronged.
Enter Kim Kardashian. Kardashian is usually pretty hands-off when her husband steps in it. This is a wise PR move from a woman who knows a thing or two about how to work the PR game. That, and I suppose if she intervened on behalf of her husband every time he put his foot in his mouth, she would have time for little else.
Kardashian was asked directly by GQ about the West/Swift feud about the song “Famous”, and if she would comment on the rumor that there may be footage that would prove that Swift was in fact lying about her knowledge of the content of the lyrics. Kardashian responded with a directness that took us all by surprise.
She totally approved that. She wanted to all of a sudden act like she didn’t. I swear, my husband gets so much s–t for things [when] he really was doing proper protocol and even called to get it approved…And then they sent an attorney’s letter like ‘Don’t you dare do anything with that footage”, and asking us to destroy it.
In a curious bit of timing, the day before the GQ interview was scheduled to drop, all of the Hiddleston/Swift (or “Twiddles” as I like to call them) stuff started. The new romance, the whirlwind trips…while all of us on the internet were caught-up in that saccharine-coated train wreck, New York Magazine totally called it, citing that this may very well be a PR strategy to try and diffuse Kardashian’s claims; rumours were flying that Kardashian was about call-out Swift in a very public way, and that it might be published, or at least alluded to in the GQ interview.
A week or so after the GQ article dropped and the subsequent unveiling of Twiddles the Couple, West released his very racy video for the song “Famous”, which featured a host of celebrity look alike that all had a connection to West. Front and center was a naked “Taylor Swift” (there was also a “George Bush” and a even a “Donald Trump”, something that at this very minute, I’m still trying to unsee). The Swift camp continued to Twiddles their way around the world while clutching their perfect pearls at West’s shocking lyrics and video, ostensibly hoping we wouldn’t notice the GQ spread and think about what was to come.
A week after that, Kim Kardashian started encouraging her bazillions of followers to start following her on Snapchat.
A week later, Kardashian dropped the truth bomb; footage was released on Keeping Up With the Kardashians in which you can clearly hear West having a phone conversation with Swift, who refers to her being name-checked in “Famous” as “a complement”, as well as acknowledging that it would be good PR. Kardashian also released this same footage (which was lengthy and therefore edited for the platform) on Snapchat, thereby beating Swift at her own game, and probably earning about a bazillion dollars from snapchat in the process.
Well-played Kim, I have to say. I like her more and more each day.
Taylor Swift responded by posting the following on Instagram.
Poor Taylor, right? She never asked for this. She is the victim here, right?
Not so fast.
When you are a famous person carefully calculating a PR response to ensure your image of perfection stays as watertight as your pampered posterior, the Internet is never slow to thoroughly call you out when you make a misstep. In this case, the Internet was quick to point out that this “note”, ostensibly from Taylor’s iPhone, has a “search” button at the top instead of a “notes” button, as it would it she had just crafted it. This points to the fact that this was a statement that had been prepared well ahead of time, and that Swift was planning on responding to this footage before it ever came out. It might also mean that someone else wrote it. Someone who gets paid to write such things. It could mean both of those things.
At best, this makes Taylor Swift look like the calculating, PR-obsessed faux sweetie-pie that she probably is. At worst? Well… liar liar, pants on fire.