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A Swift kick in teeth for Kanye, but Taylor's just as hard to like

By Morwenna Jones

Published 18/02/2016

PR genius: Taylor Swift
PR genius: Taylor Swift

In case you haven't heard the news from the Twittersphere, Taylor Swift called out Kanye West at the Grammys. Alluding to the song Famous on West's album that features the line "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous" in her acceptance speech for best album, Taylor fought back.

"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," she said. "But some day, when you get where you're going, you'll look around and know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there."

As well as delivering the rousing speech, dedicated "to all the young women out there", Swift also became the first woman to win album of the year at the Grammys twice, took home awards for best pop vocal album and best music video for Bad Blood and opened the 58th annual ceremony with a live performance.

But, of course, none of those achievements matter because they've all been overshadowed by praise for Swift's bold response to the big bad Yeezy. Granted, if you take a look at West's Twitter account you have an insight into the mind of an egomaniac. As well as recently thinking it would be a good idea to ask Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook to invest "1 billion dollars into Kanye West ideas" (rather than opening schools in Africa), he also proclaimed "I will have over 100 Grammys before I die", and announced he wouldn't attend the ceremony "unless they promise me the album of the Year" (he didn't attend).

But why are we pretending that Swift is any different? For one thing she allowed a landmark achievement for female musicians to pale into insignificance against the background of her feud with West. And, unlike West, whose overt attention-seeking is played out through social media and other channels, Brand Taylor repeatedly targets "all the young women out there", begging them to comply with the star's apparent feminism.

Given that Swift took to the stage with a male team of producers and contributors, you'll forgive me if I'm sceptical. #GirlSquad they were not. But, then again, the requirements for the squad are pretty strict - the main requirement being significant career success and media visibility.

But what about the other requirements? Maybe I'm cynical, but when I take a look at Swift's #GirlSquad, a pattern begins to emerge. Lena Dunham is the only member whose body doesn't meet the requirements of a Victoria's Secrets casting director, and Zendaya and Selena Gomez are the only members who bring any racial diversity to the group. Remembering Swift's clueless spat with Nicki Minaj on Twitter last year, I can't help but feel that she really doesn't have the credentials to speak to "all the young girls out there" at all.

Blinded by her own white privilege, she infamously failed to recognise that Minaj's tweets about a lack of recognition of diversity in music videos at the VMAs had absolutely nothing to do with her and a lot to do with Hollywood's racial inequality - of which her own "squad" is just one example.

Now Swift is leading the fight against Yeezy. Having once said he "had to take 30 showers before I got with Kim", referring to his ex Amber Rose, Kanye has hardly endeared himself to the feminist cause. And it goes without saying that Swift has every right to call out the man who did his best to try and make her feel small.

However, once again Swift's messages of empowerment and, perhaps most importantly, her achievements as a female artist have been obscured by Twitter rants, celebrity in-fighting and the overpowering glow of Brand Taylor with the #GirlSquad as her backdrop. Perhaps that's what she wanted all along. After all, you can say what you like about Taylor Swift, but she's a PR genius.

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