Column by J1 Reporter Anna Rasgorshek
“If I never hear another Taylor Swift song, I’d be pretty happy. #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty,” Jeff Pearlman tweeted on July 13, 2016. #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty was the number one trend on Twitter for days, after Kim Kardashian released a private phone call between her and Swift.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West claimed that Taylor Swift approved a song line where Kanye claims that he made Swift famous. After Swift referenced the line in her Grammy’s acceptance speech, a video call was leaked, showing Swift approving the song. Everyone chose their side, “Team Kim” and “Team Taylor.”
Taylor Swift’s career was thought to be over. But on Aug. 27, 2017, she returned, breaking four world records: most Spotify streams in the first 24 hours after its release, most YouTube views in 24 hours, most VEVO streams in 24 hours, and the most weekly-streams for a song ever by a female artist. But with Taylor’s record breaking return to the music industry, it seems like #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty was just a short, easily forgotten period of Swift’s 11 year long career.
So what’s the point? Cancel culture doesn’t end up affecting any famous celebrities careers. If anyone knew that the #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty would blow over so quickly, it would be Kim Kardashian, who gets herself into controversies almost once a month. Two months later, Kardashian told Billboard she was “over it,” while Swift was simultaneously still dealing with the mental aftermath.” Swift was doing fine with sales, but her mental health was at an all time low.
“I don’t think there are that many people who can actually understand what it’s like to have millions of people hate you very loudly,” Taylor said to Vogue Magazine in September of 2019. “You’re sending mass amounts of messaging to this person to either shut up [or] disappear…”
The “mob mentality” of those criticizing her didn’t allow Swift any time to defend herself, leading Swift to disappear for two years. In her 2020 Netflix documentary Miss Americana, Swift said, “Nobody physically saw me for a year and that’s what I thought they wanted.” The effects of cancel culture are permanent, as Swift is still trying to learn that sometimes, not everyone can be pleased.
Not only did Swift have to deal with the emotional damage of the #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty, so did her fans. Swift’s fans were emotionally drained from the time they spent defending Swift back in 2016. Earlier this year, user @camilla_33 tweeted, “Now accepting apologies from everyone who made my life h*ll for being a Taylor Swift fan in 2016.”
The “mob mentality” of cancel culture Twitter is dangerous. Often, users don’t even care about the cause, they’re simply enjoying the chance to hate on a celebrity. “Don’t know why this is a thing but i’m 100% here for this #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty” user @romancemoons said back in 2016.
Cancel culture is ineffective in ending someone’s career, and it takes an emotional toll on fans and sometimes the one being cancelled. But even when the cancelling is deserved, the person’s career is often unaffected. Kim Kardashian is a prime example of someone who’s been unaffected by cancel culture. I still watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians, even though I’m fully aware of how problematic they are. Even back in seventh grade, I would tirelessly defend Taylor Swift on my grade school playground, only to go home and watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians. And before Taylor Swift’s innocence was proved in spring of 2020, I still supported her, despite the fact that she was “over.”
It was all pointless.
The hate comments sent to Swift over a phone call bashing her family, body, fans, friends, appearance, and talent were indisputably taking it too far. Of course she was mentally drained, she was exhausted and tired from trying to defend herself to strangers. It took her years to recover, while Kim stated two months later in a Billboard Magazine interview that she was “over it.” It was all for nothing. Kim was over it, while Swift and her family were still being harassed online. Kim didn’t care anymore, but Taylor was left with lifelong mental health issues.
Cancel culture isn’t worth it, and does more harm than good.