celebrity

The real tragedy of the Taylor and Kanye saga has nothing to do with those leaked calls.

Today, my social media feeds are filled with Taylor Swift’s headstone.

Not her actual headstone, of course, but an image that symbolises a different kind of death. That of her opportunity to shape her own narrative around her career, accomplishments and message.

Finally some good news

A photo posted by @420lolguy on Jul 17, 2016 at 11:10pm PDT

The events of this week have played out like a somewhat twisted sequel to Mean Girls, with the bright lights of LA and Hollywood subbing in for the halls of a high school. More glamorous, but just as brutal.

On Sunday night, Kim Kardashian posted a series of videos on her Snapchat story which showed her husband Kanye West discussing the lyrics to his song Famous with Taylor Swift. This story was quickly circulated across the globe as the ultimate “gotcha!” moment, shared to prove that Taylor had “consented” to a song she had publicly labelled as offensive and derogatory.

But the real damage done here has nothing to do with who was right or wrong, who knew about a song release or the ethics and legalities of releasing a covertly taped phone call to the world.

Watch Kim Kardashian’s controversial snapchat. Post continues after video… 

Video by SnapChat/KimKardashian
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The real tragedy here (and yes, I do feel comfortable labelling it that, seeing as how it continues to flood the internet in epic Greek-tragedy style proportions).

 The saddest part of this entire saga is how Taylor Swift, one of the most successful, iconic and influential musicians of our time, has been reduced to a footnote in Kanye West’s story. And Calvin Harris’. And Tom Hiddleson’s.

Since the footage of her speaking with Kanye was released, Taylor has only responded once, placing the same note on her Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. At the end of her statement, which explains her real issue with the song was not her general inclusion, but the fact that she was called “that bitch”, lies the most poignant line of this entire entanglement. “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I have never asked to be part of, since 2009.” That one simple line in a sea of social media war posts is a stark reminder of how Taylor Swift has been inserted, against her will, into Kanye West’s public journey of fame, blame and redemption. She had not choice in the matter when, many years ago at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye stormed the stage and ripped the microphone from her hand.

That moment when Kanye West secretly records your phone call, then Kim posts it on the Internet. A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on Jul 17, 2016 at 9:14pm PDT

Taylor barely had a chance to accept her award for Best Female Video at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards on September 13 before Kanye West rushed the stage, and aired his objections about her win. From then on, despite her immense rise to fame and waves of success, she has been forced to be a supporting character in his story.

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At the MTV awards, she was cast as the victim. During her sold out world tour and number one albums, she was seen as his victor. When she presented him with the Video Vanguard Award at the 2015 VMAs she was depicted as the “cool girl”, the chick who could “take a joke”, her presence on stage simply there to paint a clear picture that this male genius had been redeemed.

All Kanye, all the time.

Now, after the release of those Snapchat videos she has been painted as the sly snake, the mean girl who tried to paint poor Kanye as the villain and has been outed as the deceitful minx alongside his wronged anti-hero.

The infamous 'Imma let you finish' moment. Image courtesy of MTV.

On the lighter side, this entire saga reads like the rejected script from a B-grade Netflix dramedy. But on a darker note, it's a harsh reminder that even one of the most successful women in the world  is not worthy of her own narrative.

This week, we're seeing a lot of headlines about Taylor that paint her as a liar and question exactly how much this will negatively impact her career. Within these stories, and within the immense commentary currently dominating every social media platform, is also reference to how it will affect the men in her life.

Reference to the fact that Calvin Harris tried to warn us about her, and that he's better off away from her evil clutches. Articles commending Tom Hiddleson for standing by his new girlfriend, despite her now tarnished reputation, and worrying about how her "betrayal" will harm his chances of being named the next James Bond.

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And of course Kanye and the ongoing righteous praise he and Kim are receiving for bringing this drama to the world.

Poor Taylor is not even allowed to enjoy her own downfall in solo style.

The truth is, we'll never know exactly who was right or wrong. We'll never know if she's the nice girl she's been portrayed as and we'll never know the truth about how this whole song/video saga really played out behind-the-scenes.

All we know for sure is that even the most successful women will at some stage be torn down, and her downfall will evaluate the stories of the men around her.

At the end of the day, Taylor Swift's innocence is not what we're fighting for. It's the message she portrays through the platform she has created. One of positivity female friendship, self-love, determination and hard-work. Whether or not that's how she behaves in real life is beside the point, it's what her legions of young female followers have picked up through her tunes.

This week, 16-year-old Hannah Diviney wrote for Mamamia "Taylor Swift saved my life. Now, I'd like to say thank you."

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That's the story Taylor Swift has chosen to tell through her career. That's the narrative she has chosen to be part of and build her success on. And, funnily enough, there doesn't seem to be a role for Kanye West anywhere in that tale.

Right now, my timeline is filled with Taylor Swift gravestones, celebrating the death of her career at the hands of Kanye West, via Kim Kardashian.

But we shouldn't be mourning the death of her career. What we should be mourning is the death of our ability to lift successful women up, and allow them to shape their own stories.

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