If you go on Facebook this morning, here’s the trending list you’ll see:
Here is the evergreen, most appropriate reaction:
it is with a heavy heart that i must announce that the celebs are at it again
— wint (@dril) September 24, 2014
Still, you might want to know what it’s all about, since those trending descriptions are very, very vague. Fair enough. Before we can go over what happened last night and set the Internet on absolute fire, we have to go over what came before. Here is some background:
1. In 2009, Beyoncé released the music video for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” and even though it was her cheapest, simplest video, it went viral and became instantly iconic. You unquestionably know at least one person who has the entire dance routine memorized and/or someone who has dressed up in the costume from the video for Halloween. In fact, I’ve interacted with so many of you Mediaite readers in the past few months that I’d be willing to say you went out dressed as Queen Bey. Don’t lie!
2. Also in 2009, that video failed to net Bey the MTV Video Music Award for “Best Female Video.” A relative newcomer called Taylor Swift won it instead. Kanye West, as you know, jumped on the stage as she took her award and delivered a line as iconic as the “Single Ladies” video itself: “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you. I’mma let you finish but Beyonce has one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!” After the media fallout from that, West’s star went dark for a while and he eventually reemerged from his self-imposed exile with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. We got good music and some funny memes out of it. Swift went on to become one of the biggest artists of the modern era. It could have gone so much worse.
3. West and Swift eventually made up. He sent her flowers, which she Instagrammed. He did a number of performative apologies over the years. They both released new music in the years following the MTV VMA fiasco, Swift released some fragrances and did some world tours, West married Kim Kardashian and became a father, and all seemed to be peachy. Gossip Cop has a great timeline of their feud that turned to friendship here. She feuded with celebrities like Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry while also releasing diss track after diss track about her former boyfriends like Taylor Lautner, Jake Gyllenhaal, Harry Styles, and John Mayer, but it truly seemed like the West/Swift hatchet had been buried.
Watch out for the Regina George in sheep’s clothing…
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) September 9, 2014
4. Fast forward: Earlier this year, West released the highly-anticipated The Life of Pablo. One song, called “Famous,” has proven very controversial. He rapped, “To all my South Side n—-s that know me best / I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous!” There are definitely some who argue that Swift’s rise to prominence had something to do with being humiliated on a national stage at the age of 19 and that her chosen persona of victimized sweetie with a big heart was a lot easier for consumers to buy into after what happened. That is neither here nor there; we will never know how much of a role the “I’mma let you finish…” speech played in her becoming a household name. What we do know is how she reacted to the “Famous” lyrics: She angrily denounced it and made her shock and anger known to the world. As she had done with Perry, she paraded her success and friends around to show West who he had chosen to mess with. She appeared to address him in a Grammy acceptance speech this year, too:
5. About a month ago, after West had been taking heat for his lyric for half a year, Kardashian West was profiled in GQ. She revealed to her profiler, Caity Weaver, that she and West filmed everything when he made an album and that she had video footage of Swift giving her husband the go-ahead to name-drop her on the track. (Here is a piece I wrote that day where I referenced the footage that I was sure would cause a firestorm if it were ever released.) That alleged footage would then make Swift into a liar, proving what Perry, Minaj, and others had been saying about her for years. If such footage leaked, her perfectly curated “America’s naive sweetheart” image would be gone — poof! — just like that.
6. Such footage leaked. Her perfectly curated “America’s naive sweetheart” image was gone — poof! — just like that.
Kardashian West uploaded snippets of the phone call West made to Swift seeking her blessing for the lyrics straight to Snapchat last night. It appears that she chose last night for two reasons: First, the behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the album aired on last night’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Second, it was “National Snake Day.”
Wait it’s legit National Snake Day?!?!?They have holidays for everybody, I mean everything these days! 🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍🐍
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) July 17, 2016
For those who don’t follow celebrity news, this all seems unnecessarily petty. Sure, it is, but it makes more sense in context. Swift has had a vice grip on her image for years. She controls the narrative around every relationship and interaction. When she was angry that Perry stole some of her backup dancers, she wrote a scathing song about the other singer, then rallied her famous friends and made an entire music video about taking Perry down. It was a very, very public dragging by a woman who calculates every move to a T, just as every breakup song has been.
In the pasts few weeks, the shiny veneer of Swift’s image has begun to crack. Her most recent ex, Calvin Harris, has refused to play by the rules Swift’s PR team presumably sent him and he has been talking about the breakup in public. None of her other exes have done such a thing. Again, through her songs and interviews, she has always controlled the story. Even as she has been photographed in too-perfect scenarios with the latest supposed boyfriend, Tom Hiddleston, her usual plan has been failing her.
The public has grown increasingly tired of this behavior from her and last night, after Kardashian West dropped those videos, the hashtag #KimExposedTaylorParty started trending and hasn’t stopped. It’s surely a marker of the fickleness of fame because just last year, Swift’s album was breaking sales records all over the place and she became the first woman in history to win Album of the Year twice. Plus, Kardashian West is usually the one being targeted with nasty hashtags. Still, this sort of resistance to Swift and her innocent image — which stands in such contrast to what everyone else in the industry says about her — and celebration in her exposure feel like they’ve been a long time coming. Celebrities, including Swift’s BFF Selena Gomez and KKW’s sister Khloé Kardashian among many others, have weighed in, making this a celeb news story for the ages.
Why is this important, you wonder? Well, if you look at our home page, you’ll see all kinds of sorrow. You’ll see coups and bombings and the beginning of a Republican National Convention that many have spent months predicting will turn violent. You’ll see shootings by and of police and by and of regular old citizens. There is no shame in seeking out the drama of celebrity gossip when so much of the world’s real news is so violent and scary. Sometimes, catching a star in a lie can be just the right distraction because it is news that comes with a sense of vindication and feels like it has a clear beginning, middle, and end, which so much of the violence we see elsewhere does not. Demanding to know how and why someone can care about what the Kardashians are up to while there are coup attempts and bombings happening in the world is nothing short of logical fallacy; it is possible to care about multiple things. Beyond being possible, it is healthy. It is important to practice self-care and never get too caught up in all of the hatred and violence.
Today, you’ll go read about something scary, something violent. You can return to this article, though, to cleanse your palate and laugh at the absurdity of what “Single Ladies” hath wrought almost a decade after its release. That’s okay!
Anyway, in closing, here are those damning videos, courtesy of KKW:
[image via screengrab]
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