The media seems to be preoccupied with the blank space that is pop star Taylor Swift’s political preferences.
Outlets from Newsweek to Red Alert Politics have been incessantly speculating about whether Swift voted for President Donald Trump or his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, a conversation reignited by last week’s release of her single and video “Look What You Made Me Do.”
There is nothing overtly political about the song (though the Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon thought she was channeling first lady Melania Trump in the video), which is perfectly on-brand for Swift, who is noteworthy for keeping tight-lipped about her politics throughout the 2016 election cycle.
“Swift has largely remained apolitical throughout her career,” wrote Red Alert’s Siraj Hashmi. “However, due to the fact that many liberals and progressives believe that silence equates to complicity, many feel that Swift is secretly a Trump supporter.”
There is no evidence that sparks fly between Swift and Trump, other than an ambiguous “go out and vote” Instagram post and her country roots, possibly making her just the latest country star to be caught in an awkward situation in regards to discussing her feelings on Trump.
Oh, and of course there is a Trump tweet for everything:
Glad to hear that @taylorswift13 will be co-hosting the Grammy nominations special on 12.5. Taylor is terrific!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 30, 2012
But the fact remains that Swift has become just as notorious for keeping her politics hidden as she has for failed relationships, making the mystery surrounding her political style ripe for the hamster wheel of meaningless yet intriguing gossip.
The media has been on Swift’s case to be more outspoken about her politics since the 2016 election cycle, when she refused to endorse a presidential candidate. Google Trends reported that as of noon on Nov. 8, 2016 (Election Day), Swift was the most-searched celebrity in terms of voting preferences.
Her silence stood in stark contrast to her arch-nemesis, fellow pop star Katy Perry, who was out on the campaign trail aggressively stumping for Clinton.
Some, like the Daily Beast’s Amy Zimmerman, called Swift out at the time for not “practicing what she preaches” by failing to endorse Clinton.
“As two white feminists with more than a handful of racial blind spots between them, Swift and Clinton seem like a match made in second-wave feminist heaven,” Zimmerman wrote in July 2016. “With all the time Swift and her squad have spent … urging fans to focus on issues that really matter, the pop superstar could have actually directed some much-needed millennial attention toward HRC.”
Journalists like Splinter’s Kelsey McKinney actively begged Swift to admit she knew Trump was trouble when he walked in.
“To remain silent is to remain complicit in every hateful statement, every reminder that a man with power and fame can — as Trump said this weekend — ‘do whatever he wants,’” McKinney wrote, referring to the “Access Hollywood” video of Trump talking to Billy Bush about what he believed fame allowed him to do.
Swift’s commitment to feminism was questioned again during January’s Women’s March, when she halfheartedly tweeted her support for the event without spilling even one teardrop on her guitar for it.
“For some, Swift’s tweet about the Women’s March is another example of the pop star co-opting feminism for her brand but not taking action, or misunderstanding the concept altogether,” wrote the Washington Post’s Emily Yahr about the Women’s March tweet.
Ironically, earlier in August, Swift secured what was hailed as a feminist victory by winning a lawsuit against a DJ who allegedly groped her in 2013. The Guardian’s Arwa Mahdawi declared that “Taylor Swift is tough, cool and in control. Unlike Donald Trump.”
“With a misogynist in America’s highest office — a man who treats women like objects for his personal amusement — Swift’s public declaration of her self-worth and her assertion of her rights is incredibly powerful,” Mahdawi wrote.
All of that goodwill was replaced by bad blood last week with the release of the cover for her next album, “Reputation,” and “Look What You Made Me Do,” a song where she declared, “I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me.”
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) August 23, 2017
With that album title and cover art, Swift appears to be lamenting how mean everyone from the media to Perry to the Kardashian-Wests have been to her over the course of her career. Junkee’s Katie Cunningham has a solution for rekindling the public’s love story with Swift: condemn Trump.
“[B]y staying silent, it’s Swift herself — not Kim, not Kanye, not Katy — who’s made her look like the biggest fraud,” Cunningham wrote.
The media will continue to be fascinated by Swift’s apoliticism until she sets the record straight. Of course, maybe Swift, the master media-manipulator she is, is just enjoying the attention her silence naturally generates and will continue to milk it for all the Spotify downloads it’s worth.
As she has claimed in the past, there is nothing she does better than revenge.