The world is currently buzzing as the long-awaited “The Eras Tour” finally began on March 18. With 27 shows across 20 cities in the US, Taylor Swift is touring her music for the first time since 2018.
This is a defining moment in Swift’s career as she bounces back from the pandemic, which caused an entertainment drought and prevented many musicians from being able to perform their music. Swift in particular felt the monumental impact of the pandemic when it meant the cancellation of her “Lover Fest” tour in 2020. This left fans distraught and consequently frantic to secure tickets to the next tour.
After the “historically unprecedented demand“ for tickets in November which caused Ticketmaster to crash immediately after the presale commenced, “The Eras Tour” broke the all-time record for the most concert tickets sold by an artist in a single day, with an astronomical 2.4 million tickets sold on the first day of the presale.
The unique selling point of this tour is that Swift will be performing songs from all of her “eras” of music, across her 10 albums. Although “The Eras Tour” will surely be phenomenal, and it’s hard not to get swept up in anticipation, I think that often we neglect to call Taylor Swift out on things, and we sanctify her when we really should be observing her more objectively.
Throughout the years, Swift has displayed a tendency to reinvent herself each time she releases new music, and this is part of the novelty and excitement of being a Swiftie.
Each album stands apart and sets its own “era” as each presents a different style and attitude.
However, this became problematic when Swift seemingly discarded most of her displays of political activism as suddenly as they emerged once the Lover era ended, at least in regard to issues that did not impact her directly.
After stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism your entire presidency, you have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence? ‘When the looting starts the shooting starts’??? We will vote you out in November. @realdonaldtrump
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) May 29, 2020
For example, in May 2020 she tweeted calling out Trump on his racism and white supremacist tendencies but has remained largely silent on issues regarding racism ever since.
In particular, Swift’s silence was noticeable when she was criticised for being involved in the movie “Where the Crawdads Sing,” which became controversial when it was revealed that the author of the book, Delia Owens, was wanted for questioning in involvement with the murder of a Zambian man.
In general, the book and movie adaptation are criticised for their portrayal of black characters, and throughout their time as conservationists in Africa, Owens and her husband were accused of having “archaic ideas about Africans” in their extensive conservation work. Many people were boycotting the movie and criticising Swift for her involvement in the project, but she never made any comment.
As a result, it seems that her petitions and statements about the LGBTQ community and racism have vanished and are now simply part of her 2018/2019/2020 ‘‘era’’ of activism.
After the launch of her petition in June 2019 to urge the Senate to support the Equality Act, which would “protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in their places of work, homes, schools, and other public accommodations,” Swift received 847,785 signatures. She became an important face for LGBTQ activism, especially combined with the release of her hit song “You Need to Calm Down,” which celebrated self-expression and patronised homophobia.
It became clear that Swift had had an important impact when the Equality Act was finally passed in February 2021.
But after the ”Lover” era faded away, so did these displays of activism. Especially in the last year or so, fans have never heard silence quite this loud from Taylor Swift.
For example, in 2022, when the Roe v Wade law was about to get overturned, Swift did not attempt to use her influence with the same enthusiasm with which she had used it to endorse the Equality Act in 2019.
She only made one statement, and it was after the law had been overturned, expressing fear and sorrow at the situation. Swift did not attempt any open act of public protest, despite being a feminist who had demonstrated passion for women’s rights in the past.
I’m absolutely terrified that this is where we are – that after so many decades of people fighting for women’s rights to their own bodies, today’s decision has stripped us of that. https://t.co/mwK561oxxl
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) June 24, 2022
Fans were disappointed at her lack of political engagement following the detrimental change to women’s rights, with one fan tweeting: ”i’m disappointed that taylor swift hasn’t spoken up about roe v wade. i love her, but it’s ok to hold her accountable. she has such a huge platform, and it only seems right for her to use it to speak up.”
Following her silence, another fan angrily asked in a tweet if Swift was ”more involved in activism just for views,” adding: “as much as i love taylor, i will hold her accountable . . . normalize holding your favorites accountable!”
One important controversy that has been circulated over the past year that Swift has – at least so far – failed to address is the issue of her carbon footprint. Swift has always been silent on topics surrounding the climate, yet this has become more concerning since new information has been released about her private jet.
Based on “data as presented on the CelebrityJets Twitter page,” sustainability marketing company the Yard reported that in 2022, the singer’s private jet emitted 9,142 metric tons of carbon. To put this into perspective, according to Carbon Independent, the average carbon footprint of a person in the UK is about 10 tonnes CO2 per year.
The staggering difference between these two figures demonstrates the detrimental impact she has had on the climate; her private jet alone produced more carbon last year than 914 average UK citizens.
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Although not every private jet usage is listed publicly at this time, of those that have been listed, Swift’s has been the most damaging to the environment, out of all private jet owners worldwide.
In response, a representative for the singer told the Los Angeles Times that “Taylor’s jet is loaned out regularly to other individuals,” and that it is therefore “blatantly incorrect” to attribute most or all of these trips to her; but this deflection of blame and silence from Swift herself still suggests a lack of concern for the climate.
Some fans have been wondering whether those representing Swift care more about preserving her image than preserving the planet. The fact remains that the singer’s private jet emitted 9,142 metric tons of carbon in 2022.
It is clear – judging from the number of signatures collected for her petition and from the “historically unprecedented” demand to see Taylor Swift perform live – that the singer has an incredible power to influence people and perhaps even national policy.
It is equally clear, as shown by her vast social media following, that she remains a uniquely popular public figure. For example, within 34 minutes of her first upload to Tiktok, she had already reached 100,000 followers, making her the fastest user of the app to do so.
Taylor Swift has the potential to have a massive impact. Yet her current movement away from political activism suggests that she may simply abandon politics when it is no longer convenient to her, and she is privileged enough to not be challenged, and to be adored unconditionally when she discards her bold political statements in favour of album and tour promotion for a “new era.”
Is she really disguising covert narcissism as altruism, as her catchy hit “Anti-Hero” famously states?
It is all too easy to idolise Swift as a feminist and LGBTQ activist after her important displays of activism in 2018 and 2019, but this becomes an issue when we simply use the term “activist” as a blanket term to pardon her political forgetfulness. She might want to consider that fans in the midst of a climate crisis might not continue for long to overlook her silence on climate issues and her neglect of the environment
In addition, it is all too easy to become swept up in the excitement of the new tour, and forget that Swift has largely withdrawn from political conversation.
Although it is easy to understand that promoting a new album and tour must be time-consuming and draining both emotionally and physically, the fact remains that Taylor Swift isn’t taking full advantage of her potential to influence millions and to work for good.
After seeing all the good that Swift can do when she tries, it is a shame to see that she is not engaging with politics as much now after doing such good work in the past. We can only hope that one day she chooses to pick it up again.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Taylor Swift on the Red Tour. Featured Photo Credit: Raffik.