I couldn’t tell you a single Taylor Swift song. I know everyone says that, but really, I couldn’t. And for a while I didn’t know which one was Taylor Swift and which one was Katy Perry.
But I know now, and for the worst possible reason: politics. Perry, you will recall, ferociously backed Hillary at the last election, at the urging of her foolish management team. She isn’t now talked about for much else. As a host, she was a car crash at the VMAs, which I watched her stumble through from my ringside seat at The Forum Las Vegas. Oh, it was dreadful. Even more dreadful than the stench from Paris Jackson’s unwashed armpits, which was the talk of every dressing room in the building.
Taylor Swift, on the other hand, has done something incredible and brave this year, as bland and pointless as her musical output might be: she has refused to be drawn fully into politics, correctly judging that no one needs or wants hectoring lectures on racial politics or feminism from pop stars. We just want them to look hot, dance sexily and sing moderately well.
Some people think it goes deeper, and that Swift is a closet Republican. I was the first to report back in 2016 that she was becoming the favorite pop icon of the emerging alt-right. Her name was attached to Hitler quotes in Facebook groups, with hilarious results. Camille Paglia immortally branded her “Nazi Barbie,” which some people were thrilled by.
But nah. Obviously I’d love to think America’s biggest female pop star voted for Trump, but it feels too far-fetched given her friends: a dreary procession of politically-correct feminist writers like Lena Dunham, models, hangers-on and that awful queen Todrick Hall. (Now, if you ask me which rappers voted Trump, I have a much longer list.)
What we can say for sure is that despite aggressive goading from Buzzfeed, the Guardian and elsewhere, Swift has refused to condemn Trump or his voters — whom she instinctively understands comprise half of her fan base. In other words, despite the vacuousness of her lyrics, she has displayed more canny commercial instinct than the entire doomed and currently smoldering 90210 zip code.
Sometimes I think Swift is the only solo pop star with an IQ over 100. That or she has a very conservative family from which she’d rather not get disowned. She’s also a troll, and I obviously mean that as a compliment.
Swift even, in a shocking display of indifference to the cornucopia of confected grievances from the Left this year, said she couldn’t have had a better year in 2017. The feminists were so mad! Black Lives Matter was so mad! All the journalists were so mad! The people with blue check marks on Twitter! Your gender studies professor! Everyone was so mad!
The rest of us were delighted. Tay Tay knew what would happen when she airily declared 2017 a great year. She’s toying with a press with no power to damage her. Her last single was called “Look What You Made Me Do,” and I like to think of it as a coquettish taunt to the finger-waggers and busybodies. She is trolling progressives.
Swift has realized something the New Right cottoned on to in 2016: when the media is telling us all to hate each other, you win with mischief, laughter and smiles — not with the funless, rictus grins of the social justice left or the grubby millennial faces we saw in every major city at the last election, contorted in rage, fear and hatred.
You definitely don’t win with Katy Perry’s monstrous lesbian haircut and support for ailing grandma Hillary.
MILO is a New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning journalist.
Milo Yiannopoulos is an award-winning investigative reporter and the New York Times-bestselling author of DANGEROUS.