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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

From feminism to private jets: Is the criticism aimed at Taylor Swift justified?

Taylor Swift’s environmental impact, marketing tactics and political statements are frequently over-analyzed by media outlets.

Taylor_Swift_The_Eras_Tour_The_Folklore_Set_Era_(53109912930).jpg

Taylor Swift is pictured in 2023.

Taylor Swift is one of the most iconic pop stars of the past 15 years. With a career spanning 10 original albums and four re-recorded albums, it is difficult to imagine a more successful musical artist. According to a Forbes article, 53% of the U.S. population are Swift fans and 44% of avid fans self-identify as “Swifties.”

However, she is also one of the most over-analyzed celebrities in the world and faces constant scrutiny for aspects of her life, such as her appearances on the sidelines of NFL games in support of her partner Travis Kelce or her heavy usage of her private jet fleet. She is also criticized for her brand of feminism, which consists of having fans spend excessive amounts on her tickets and merch, and for her art not being “revolutionary.”

While this criticism is partially justified because the systemic issues that Swift’s career illuminates are frustrating, it is important to recognize that these issues are more a reflection of society’s shortcomings than of her as an individual. Both those who look at her impact critically and those who are diehard supporters must grasp that no one person should be viewed as having absolute authority.

Some of the negative sentiment toward Swift is justified in terms of how her carbon footprint is impacting the environment. For example, a BBC article on Swift’s private jet usage found that she produced 138 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in three months in 2023, which is more than eight times the amount of carbon dioxide the average American citizen emits per year. However, the same article states that Swift has purchased twice the amount of carbon credits — which are used to fund carbon sequestration projects — needed to offset her emissions. There is also little evidence that Swift is actually the No. 1 contributor to carbon emissions, as many assume; the only evidence is a study that is not corroborated by reputable media outlets.

In any case, to ensure she is being held accountable for her environmental impact, Swift must clarify exactly what will be done with these carbon credits, whether it’s contributing to efforts to protect forests or funding companies that genuinely work to combat climate issues. Confirmation directly from Swift would help others understand how she is remediating the damage she has inflicted. She could simply take fewer flights on smaller planes, which is worth seriously considering for the security of our environment.

Additionally, Swift has been questioned by social media users for her marketing tactics. Some say her release of deluxe albums with one or two extra songs that are available for a limited time are a cash grab. These items come at noticeably high prices, which illuminates that while Swift finds authentic joy in sharing her art with her fans, she is still a businesswoman. It is up to each individual fan whether they want to contribute to her monetary success. Even with her participation in capitalism, it is worth recognizing that she has used her success to give back; she gave $100,000 bonuses to all of the truck drivers for the Eras Tour and she donated $100,000 to the family of a victim of the Kansas City Chiefs parade shooting in mid-February.

Then, there is the political controversy surrounding the artist’s perspective on feminism. For her entire career, Swift has defended herself against people who say she’s had ‘too many boyfriends’ or writes songs exclusively about those relationships. Although she has written many songs aimed squarely at her exes (“Dear John”), she also sings about the passing of important figures in her life (“marjorie”), the heartbreak of cancer (“Ronan”) and feminist issues (“The Man”). These songs highlight the reason she became so popular: She can capture the vulnerability that comes with the human experience.

Moreover, many have recently disapproved of her recent Album of the Year win at this year’s Grammy Awards for “Midnights,” believing that artists such as SZA should have won based on talent. They argue that Swift’s win undermines the recognition of talent for artists of more marginalized demographics.

It is crucial to discern that the issues that come with Swift’s accolades are something for which she is not entirely at fault. Swift is not the person assigning awards or failing to show support for other communities; she encourages her fans to vote and support candidates who will protect their rights. Secondly, she has voiced support for the Black community during the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement. Nonetheless, she still needs to listen to marginalized voices sharing their experiences or offering advice on how she can be more inclusive.

In essence, Swift’s work has been era-defining. Her music has inspired the work of many smaller artists and brought millions of people together. No celebrity is perfect, and Swift is not an exception, but she is making a positive impact: Her music provides an outlet for countless people to relate to. While there are efforts she must make to further support marginalized people and the environment, her considerate and kind attitude while at the helm of popular culture is something for which she will be remembered for decades to come.