I'm going to come right out and ask the question we've all been wondering but have been entirely too scared to ask: Is Taylor Swift in the middle of a downward spiral?
On Sunday night, the VMAs featured a four-minute “anything you wanna do” session from Kanye West, the Loki to Taylor Swift's Thor.
As expected, the rant meandered all over -- from calling out this generation's inability to gain perspective to patting his own back for a massive 2016 to, and most memorably, making a reference to his beef with Taylor Swift.
Normally these kinds of rants are followed up with a chorus of blogs and tweets sympathizing with Taylor. The mean, ego-centric rapper aims his crosshairs randomly at the innocent country-pop singer, who sings about sticking up for her squad and boys she likes.
It's the story we've been fed for years and one with a clear and obvious good guy-bad guy dynamic.
Kanye = Bad. Taylor = Good.
This narrative has changed, though, in the last few weeks. When Kanye took the stage at the VMAs and bashed Taylor, the audience cheered with him. They agreed he had every right to let loose on Taylor's credibility and applauded him for laying into her while standing on a stage she dominated a year before.
The same stage where in 2009 the feud between the two famously started when Kanye interrupted a Swift acceptance speech to let her know her work wasn't as good as Beyoncé's work.
In his speech on Sunday, Kanye joked about the man who made a sex tape with his wife in front of his wife, and still left the stage with the audience thinking, “This man is on a higher moral ground than Taylor Swift. I stand with Kanye.”
This is the reality of their feud now, and, unfortunately, Taylor brought this all on herself. Through a series of public missteps, her reputation began to slip, and on a larger scale, we could be watching her slowly spiral.
Public opinion on the 26-year-old singer has never been worse than it is now, and unless there are some drastic changes, we could maybe be seeing the end of her mega-stardom.
Think Britney Spears, but with a larger Instagram following and can play a guitar.
Let's slow down, though, and go back to the beginning. In order to fully understand this slide, we need to hop in our mental DeLoreans back to where it all started: the 58th Grammy Awards.
It was a massive night for Taylor and her mega-popular album 1989. She was coming off not just the biggest year of her career, but the biggest year of anyone's career, and this was supposed to be a night celebrating her efforts.
She was sweeping every category to the point where if you were watching her closely you could tell she was running out of people to thank as the night went on. Her acceptance speeches were getting broader and broader, almost as though she was getting annoyed at having to go back up and receive her trophies.
Then came her final win of the night.
Saving her small speech for the end, Taylor addressed girls all over the world saying,
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. But if you just focus on the work and you don't let those people side track you, some day when you get where you're going, you will look around and you will know that it was you and the people that love you who put you there.
She was, of course, talking about Kanye West and lyrics from “Famous,” the hyper-controversial single off of Life of Pablo that would later feature a music video filled with naked copies of celebrities like Donald Trump, Anna Wintour and Taylor herself sleeping together in the same bed.
Possibly the most controversial part of that song didn't even come from the video. It came from the lyrics that start the song as Kanye matter-of-factly announces,
For all my Southside niggas that know me best /I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/ I made that bitch famous.
Disgusting. What an absolutely abominable thing to say about anyone, let alone someone who you have very public and negative history with. Not to mention the fact sexism in the music industry is a major problem, especially in a year where we saw massive artists like Kesha and, once again, Taylor herself dealing with sexual assault cases.
This should have been a major moment for the Apple Music-toppling, fan-surprising, charitable Swift.
She had every right to call Kanye out at the Grammys, and her speech could not have been on the money more if it was written by Toby Ziegler and Will Bailey….
… that is until you take into account she actually OK'd the lyrics in the first place.
As is the weird reality with dealing in the Kardashian universe, we didn't find out for a few weeks -- until “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” caught up to the Grammy speech.
Kim claimed for weeks there was a video proving Taylor knew the lyrics existed, but didn't say anything more in regard to its release or if that footage would ever see the light of day.
Then she uploaded snippets of their convo to Snapchat, and the world began to unravel.
Within hours, Taylor responded on her Instagram with what was universally considered a fairly weak assessment of the situation.
I would like to highlight something in the Snapchat video that has kind of been brushed over as the commentary shifted toward focusing on other parts of the Snapchat story:
Kanye: “I think this is a really cool thing to have it.
Taylor: “I know, It's like a compliment”
Kanye: “The only thing I give a fuck about is you as a person and a friend.”
Taylor: “That's sweet…”
Their blurry relationship was symbiotic to the point of them being friends. This wasn't a conversation between enemies, this was a conversation between two people who trusted and felt comfortable with each other.
The more Kanye picked on Taylor, the more her fans supported her, and the more Kanye's fans doubled down on supporting him. The video humanizes him and turned her into a “mean girl.” They needed each other, and at the end of the day, her turning around and throwing him under the bus was flat out betrayal of a friend.
Things only got worse from there.
With her reputation hurting and rumors of her relationship with Tom Hiddleston being a complete sham -- full disclosure, I wrote an article about this, one of MANY articles across the internet corroborating this theory -- she was snubbed at the VMAs, an award show where she dominates like the Lakers in the '80s.
After the nominee list was announced, it leaked Taylor had zero intention of attending the awards show. Whether it was her intention or not, and whether she was even eligible to be nominated or not, this came across as a boycott against the VMAs.
A remarkably petty boycott.
What's annoying is this was an easy fix. All she needed to do was attend the award show. She probably didn't even need to attend the full thing. She could have just handed out an award and jetted out of MSG right after.
MTV clearly waited for her to accept the obvious invite until the very last second before -- and this is pure speculation based on a series of all-too-coincidental events -- switching gears and throwing the most anti-Taylor Swift awards show imaginable.
Calvin Harris, Taylor's comically goofy British DJ ex, won an award for a song he wrote with Rihanna that Taylor claimed she is owed credit on, too.
It should be noted Taylor has since been credited on the song, not that you would know from Calvin's acceptance speech.
Kanye West was also allotted an unprecedented four minutes of airtime unregulated by MTV to do whatever he wanted.
Like I said, public opinion on her has never been worse. She doesn't have an album to promote, and her inability to roll with the PR punches has led to her gaining an air of entitlement.
If her new album was to drop tomorrow, it would be a mess. It would unquestionably sell, but the negativity surrounding her brand would keep it from hitting 1989 levels.
Now is a good time to admit I am a fan. A really big fan. I think she's one of the more talented artists and role models out there right now, and the fact she's in this downward spiral kind of sucks.
You can't ignore it, though. She has to come out of this funk before she can even begin to continue her growth as an artist or we could be months away from Taylor turning into this.
Jessie please be the crazy, shaved headed Britney Spears to my school girl Britney outfit. With the umbrella and all pic.twitter.com/SgiZklrjDj — King Kylie (@uhhkylie) April 9, 2015