A few weeks ago, one of the biggest celebrity feuds in history happened. It was between Taylor Swift and celebrity couple Kim Kardashian and Kanye West (“Kimye”), and the internet took sides almost immediately. With a crazy snapchat video made by Kim of a recorded Taylor-Kanye phone call being released and the authenticity of Taylor Swift’s good girl image being questioned by the whole world, social media was a light with so many articles and hashtags. (Ex:#TaylorSwiftIsOverParty).
As a blogger, I figured I should probably write a little piece about this latest pop culture event. At first, I was tempted to join the ranks of the rest of the media and write another typical “Taylor Swift Is a Mean Girl” expose article. I could ignore my love of Miss Swift’s music and the pull of wanting to believe in her perfectly concocted girl-next-door image and totally bring a shovel to this “bury Taylor Swift party”.
But I can’t.
It’s because I believe Taylor.
It’s not because I don’t believe Kim.
It’s because I can’t find a reasonable, logical explanation to these questions:
Why do I care?
Why do we as a society care?
It appears that I’m not the only one tempted to over-analyze and judge this latest celebrity drama. It’s exciting to join in on the drama over social media. It makes you feel a part of something bigger than yourself. I was ready to tweet and write and join in the drama. It felt really good to pull out my phone, pull up Twitter and type my 60 characters. It felt like I was bringing a little spark to the fire.
But then, I took a step back. I realized something: I do not know Taylor Swift. I do not know Kim or Kanye. And if I really thought about it–all I know about them is that they are famous. It didn’t occur to me right away that they have families, heartbreaks, memories, and a human experience just like me. I kept getting caught up on the “except–they’re famous!” idea, and that was what made it hard for me to look at them as a people just as vulnerable and just as real as I am and feel. That’s when I realized why I was so tempted to judge Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian based on this new drama: there’s something inside all of us that wants to tear down and judge someone we perceive to be above us.
We want to take a stab at the millionaire and eternally famous Taylor Swift. Why? Because our society has placed her on such a high pedestal through insane celebrity worship, that we almost get giddy at the idea of her falling off that pedestal.
We want to see her hurt, we want to see her vulnerable, we want to make her like us. We want her to experience what it’s like to be bullied or judged, because everyone has experienced those things, and somehow, we’ve decided that because she’s a celebrity, she’s above those hurts.
Celebrities are merely a brand. It takes hundreds of PR people to create and sell the chosen “image” of Taylor or Kim–they decide how society should perceive them. That means people literally are paid to promote a carefully concocted image of a celebrity–none of it may be actually authentic or real. Kim Kardashian is known for being dramatic, and for doing over-the-top things for press. What’s her publicists’ move when he or she watches the recorded call between Kanye and Taylor? Have Kim expose it to the world and maximize the feud on social media for fame and money.
What is Taylor Swift’s publicists’ move when he or she finds out about the offensive Kanye lyric? Use it to fuel the already fabricated image of a Good, Innocent Girl Next Door. Essentially, it’s another tool that lets Taylor play the role created for her: the young, talented girl with the world against her. Except, this time, it backfired.
Each person perceives the persona created by or for a celebrity differently. If you’ve ever experienced heartbreak, you might really relate to someone like Adele. Suddenly, you are a fan of hers. If you love how brash Kanye is because you’re outspoken like him, then you support him. If you are a teenage girl struggling to find a place in the world, the appeal of Taylor Swift pulls at your heartstrings.
Then, when celebrity personas crash into each other like Kim/Kanye’s and Taylor’s did, the little piece inside you who likes to argue and fight and be right takes a stand. Whoever’s persona appeals to you the most on a personal level gains your support. Social media becomes the outlet where strangers cuss each other out and get into arguments over everything–especially celebrities. Suddenly, because I feel connected to Taylor, when her reputation is threatened, I feel threatened. In a response to the fights, thousands of articles are written, social media blows up, and we all go to bed feeling like we need to have an opinion on this latest, craziest celebrity feud.
But then there’s the other half of it–what the real, honest-to-God person hiding behind their publicized persona feels. If I logged onto Twitter and found people calling me terrible names, I would feel disgusted. It would hurt to watch the world tearing me apart, or even just the created-persona-of-me apart. And it would be easy to get addicted to the idea that the whole world loves and supports your side of the story.
Most of us aren’t Taylor Swift or Kim K., so we’re never going to experience those feelings. But we do have the power to stop the vicious cycle of celebrity feuds. Instead of focusing on a stranger that’s famous, I’ve decided to be a person who stops fueling the fire. Instead of tearing someone down for petty reasons, I now know that I should log off of Twitter and spend time with the people I do know and love. Life just a lot better that way.