Taylor Swift sat down with the Guardian for her first major U.K. interview in years, and over the course of the conversation, she opened up about pretty much everything fans have wanted to ask her over the last several years. Swift went into detail about her political views and why it took her so long to speak out about them; she explained why she's been so protective of her relationship with actor Joe Alwyn; and she even shared her thoughts on the pop music industry and how it can feel like The Hunger Games sometimes.
During the interview, Swift focuses a lot on 2016—a rough year for her, during which she had some public feuds with Katy Perry , Nicki Minaj, and Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. She had previously said in interviews that "an artist fails when they lose their self-awareness," and she's asked if she feels she'd made the same mistake during her career.
"I definitely think that sometimes you don’t realize how you’re being perceived,” she said. “Pop music can feel like it’s The Hunger Games , and like we’re gladiators. And you can really lose focus of the fact that that’s how it feels because that’s how a lot of stan [fan] Twitter and tabloids and blogs make it seem—the overanalyzing of everything makes it feel really intense.”
From there on, Swift launches into even more details about aspects of her career and her time in public view. The entire piece is full of nuance, and you can read it here . In the meantime, here's what we learned about Swift:
Why she's protective of her relationship with Joe Alywn: “I’ve learned that if I do [talk about the relationship], people think it’s up for discussion, and our relationship isn’t up for discussion,” she said. “If you and I were having a glass of wine right now, we’d be talking about it—but it’s just that it goes out into the world. That’s where the boundary is, and that’s where my life has become manageable. I really want to keep it feeling manageable.”
How she overcome one of her toughest years: “You can either stand there and let the wave crash into you, and you can try as hard as you can to fight something that’s more powerful and bigger than you…. Or you can dive under the water, hold your breath, wait for it to pass and while you’re down there, try to learn something. Why was I in that part of the ocean? There were clearly signs that said: Rip tide! Undertow! Don’t swim! There are no lifeguards!
"Why was I there? Why was I trusting people I trusted?" she said. "Why was I letting people into my life the way I was letting them in? What was I doing that caused this?”
What she's learned about her own privilege: Swift said that she's come to understand “a lot about how my privilege allowed me to not have to learn about white privilege. I didn’t know about it as a kid, and that is privilege itself, you know? And that’s something that I’m still trying to educate myself on every day. How can I see where people are coming from, and understand the pain that comes with the history of our world?”
Why she countersued radio DJ David Mueller, who she said touched her ass at a meet-and-greet: “Having dealt with a few of them, narcissists basically subscribe to a belief system that they should be able to do and say whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they want to,” she said. “And if we—as anyone else in the world, but specifically women—react to that, well, we’re not allowed to. We’re not allowed to have a reaction to their actions.”
Why she struggled to share her political views: “I come from country music. The number one thing they absolutely drill into you as a country artist, and you can ask any other country artist this, is ‘Don’t be like the Dixie Chicks!’” she said, referring to a boycott and backlash that ensued when the country music duo spoke out about the Iraq War in 2003. "I watched country music snuff that candle out. The most amazing group we had, just because they talked about politics. And they were getting death threats. They were made such an example that basically every country artist that came after that, every label tells you, ‘Just do not get involved, no matter what.’”
She adds later, “And then, you know, if there was a time for me to get involved…. The worst part of the timing of what happened in 2016 was I felt completely voiceless. I just felt like, Oh God, who would want me? Honestly.” She would otherwise have endorsed Hillary Clinton? “Of course,” she says sincerely. “I just felt completely, ugh, just useless. And maybe even like a hindrance.”
How she feels about the current state of U.S. politics: “It was the fact that all the dirtiest tricks in the book were used and it worked,” she explained. “The thing I can’t get over right now is gaslighting the American public into being like...‘If you hate the president, you hate America.’ We’re a democracy—at least, we’re supposed to be—where you’re allowed to disagree, dissent, debate.”
She avoids using President Trump's name, but she does say, “I really think that he thinks this is an autocracy.”
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