Taylor Swift’s Reputation tour kicked off in Glendale, Arizona on Tuesday night, and it was a show in which she dedicated a song to her boyfriend Joe Alwyn, projected a “special guest appearance” by Tiffany Haddish onto the big screen, and demonstrated that she has not been able to move past this Kim Kardashian-Kanye West brouhaha that’s been simmering since roughly 2009.
If we must, a primer: Technically, West and Swift squashed their petite boeuf long ago, but she might have reignited the fire after her speech at the 2016 Grammy Awards:
“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 will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame,” Swift said near the close of the show.
“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’ll know it was you and the people who love you who put you there and that will be the greatest feeling in the world.”
Gasoline and lit matches were tossed onto this nightmarish pyre when West’s single “Famous” came out and contained the following lyric: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous.” Taylah said she did not approve the lyric and Kanye said she did; meanwhile, Kim Kardashian cracked her knuckles and entered the fray via a GQ profile, where Kim confirmed that Swift indeed approved the lyric and that Swift went back on her word to continue to play the victim. Like two weeks later, Kim tweeted 37 snake emojis and implored her followers to find her on Snapchat, where she revealed a secret phone recording of Taylor agreeing to the lyrics! And then more stuff happened that is so exhausting to recount, including Taylor expressing the desires of millions by saying in a since-deleted Instagram post: “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I have never asked to be a part of, since 2009.”
Though Swift expressed the desire to remove herself from the narrative, it seems she is using her new tour to poke the bear once again and remain square inside the narrative. For instance, her concert stage is scattered with big snakes—a not-very-subtle clue for anyone who paid attention to her latest album’s rollout which was very snake-forward. According to E! News, Swift played up the snake victimization angle in a message to the crowd:
“A couple of years ago, someone called me a snake on social media and it caught on. Then a lot of people were calling me a lot of things on social media and I went through some really low times for a while because of it. I went through some times when I didn’t know if I was going to get to do this anymore.”
“I guess this means I wanted to send a message to you guys, that if someone uses name calling to bully you on social media, and even if a lot of people jump on board with it, that doesn’t have to defeat you. It can strengthen you instead.”
A clever pivot! Lemons out of lemonade! A great message, overall, but please, it’d be so nice if we never had to hear about snakes or the tattered (?) state of Taylor Swift’s reputation ever again.