The return of Taylor Swift and the impending release of her seventh studio album “Lover” has fans rejoicing. Read: the sound of white gays screaming “Yas queen!"
Here we again run into the problem when pop icons cling to relevancy: cultural appropriation, this time as a means to pander to the LGBTQ community during LGBTQ Pride month.
Cultural appropriation has been an issue with Swift’s music ever since the country starlet turned to pop, though the singer herself has been playing a problematic cultural role since the infamous 2009 MTV Video Music Awards fueled the fire between her and Kanye West.
Let’s start at the beginning of Swift’s promotion for her forthcoming album. Shortly after the Netflix release of the Beyoncé documentary “Homecoming,” Swift performed at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards and was quickly accused of appropriating Beyoncé’s 2018 Coachella set by viewers all over.
Swift and Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco performed “Lover”’s lead single “ME!” accompanied by a pastel pink-clad drumline, setting off a series of embarrassing publicity flops and continuing her history of appropriating black artists and black culture as a whole.
When the single “You Need to Calm Down” was released, lyrics such as “‘Cause shade never made anybody less gay” and “Why be mad when you could be GLAAD” already had audiences crying rainbow capitalism. Little did we know of the horrors that lay ahead
Swift made a surprise appearance on Friday at the historic Stonewall Inn and featured gay actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson of the hit TV show “Modern Family.” The performance was obviously part of Swift’s continuing effort to win over the LGBTQ community while we’re all still in the spirit of Pride month, which caused some to turn to Twitter to voice their discontent.
Days before the release of Swift’s music video for “You Need to Calm Down,” a fake track list of Swift’s forthcoming EP “Lover” and accompanying videos of what the tracks might sound like went viral on Twitter. They included songs titled “Okurnt! feat. Cardi” and “Buttigieg2020.”
This hilarious parody turned out to be painfully on-point when the music video for “You Need to Calm Down” was released Monday.
The music video had been hyped with an impressive list of LGBTQ guest stars, including the cast of “Queer Eye,” Ellen DeGeneres, RuPaul and more. The video itself attempted a camp setting, perhaps a concept lifted from another cultural phenomenon this year, the 2019 Met Gala. Katy Perry is even seen wearing one of her 2019 Met Gala looks, a burger costume.
I’m sure there will be more pandering to lament shortly. After all, LGBTQ Pride month isn’t over, and Swift’s album is yet to be released. But Swift’s return to the pop world so far already has me watching her cringeworthy performances and thinking, in the immortal words of drag queen Alyssa Edwards, “Oh baby, not my gay ass.”
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