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The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

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November 16, 2023
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We can’t shake off climate change

Lauren Holcomb
Climate change is a horrible problem, one that will eventually affect almost everyone and destroy the health of the planet. It’s far too nuanced of an issue to put all of the blame on one specific person, but some people are acting irresponsibly and with no regard for the environment. Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is one of these people. “I think a lot of students may not realize the negative impacts that Swift may have on things like the environment. Really, I think it’s about awareness. People may not be aware of how much fuel it takes to travel for tours like the Eras tour. Or, how many people travel on the tour? Still, I don’t know if even being aware of those numbers would change the minds of dedicated Swift fans,” Convergence Journalism teacher Lindsey Katz said.

At only 33, singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is already a veteran of the music industry, and the awards she’s won for it reflect this. She claims the title of most-streamed female artist on Spotify in history, she’s been awarded a whopping 12 Grammy Awards and impressively, she has the worst carbon footprint of any celebrity

In 2022, Swift’s private jet spent about 15.9 days in the sky and racked up 8,293.54 metric tons of CO2, which is more CO2 than 1,000 families in the United States will use. Swift herself never responded, but her representatives claimed that much of these emissions were from when Swift loaned out her jet to other individuals. This bizarre explanation ignores the actual problem of Swift’s irresponsible handling of her private jet and focuses on the semantics of who is flying it. 

Ever since her relationship with football player Travis Kelce began in September 2023, Google searches for “Taylor Swift jets” no longer bring up her shocking carbon emissions, but instead Jets football games, a shift that has led many to question if this relationship is an elaborate cover-up.

The private jet in question, adorably titled “The Number 13,” is valued at about $40 million. Taylor Swift might be willing to get married with paper rings, but she will never need to. The singer achieved the exclusive billionaire status in October 2023, and she’s now worth about $1.1 billion

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It’s understandable that Taylor Swift wants to provide the best care she can for her cats, but the fact that Olivia Benson, the cat, has more money than most people will ever see in their entire lives shows that Taylor Swift has more money than she could ever spend. “I’m going to kidnap that cat. Why does anyone need that much money? It’s unethical,” senior Dhruv Kadam said. (Lauren Holcomb)

To put this baffling net worth in perspective, let’s compare her to the average American. If you made the median American income of $67,521, it would take you 16291.23 years to make Taylor Swift’s net worth. 

Why does all of this matter? The earth is predicted to cross a critical threshold for climate change in the next decade. Earth’s temperatures have already risen by 2℉, and summer of 2023 was apparently the cruelest summer recorded in history. Upcoming events that the residents on Earth can look forward to include more wildfires, drought, and worsening air and water quality. These are going to have further effects, such as food shortage, health risks, poverty and displacement, and death. 

And ultimately, when it comes to it, Swift is not going to be affected by this like normal people will. While people are dying, she will be in one of her eight homes with the air conditioning on high. It is most critical for celebrities to be held accountable for their actions, since their mistreatment of the environment is not going to affect them, but it will affect everyone else. 

But in the onslaught of celebrities being — more or less deservedly — canceled for their illicit affairs, how does America’s favorite blondie evade it? Look no further than her weaponization of feminism: Taylor Swift has long been applauded for her feminism, winning the title of one of Ms. Magazine’s top feminists of 2022, and sharing this honor with heroes such as Malala Yousafzai and Aisha Nyandoro.  

Swift, like any woman in the music industry, has faced a lot of misogyny. She’s been shamed for her romantic history, she’s suffered public body-shaming and has had an endless amount of obnoxious men doubt her songwriting ability. She’s managed to prosper not in spite of it, however, but because of it. Taylor Swift has been a good role model for young women to look up to, and she has always advocated, no matter how safely, for feminism and the empowerment of women. 

“She talks about misogyny and she’s a big advocate for [women] being heard in the government,” senior Amelia Evans said.

But she uses this safe and unthreatening brand of feminism to the fullest advantage. She dodges criticism by making it seem like anyone opposed to her is opposed to her because of misogyny. Undoubtedly, much hate she’s faced has just been because she’s a woman who, like every other musician ever, dares to sing about her romantic history. But her fans’ anti-misogynistic defense leads to valid criticisms about her, either her artistry, the people she surrounds herself with, or her carbon emissions to be dismissed by her fans, or worse. Critics of her have even been doxxed and threatened by her fans.

“I feel like [Swift] uses [feminism] to make it seem like anyone criticizing her is being hateful,” senior Ava Edwards said. “Her fans are ride-or-die for T-Swift. And I’m like ‘woah,’ it’s kind of a lot. [Some of them] are a little crazy to me.”

The truth is, Swift is not necessarily the brave feminist icon she portrays herself to be. Just last year, she had a very public rendezvous with the frontman of The 1975, Matty Healy, a man who confessed not only to watching explicit content of Black women being brutalized but who has publicly made some very discriminatory statements. Additionally, she does not reach even close to her full potential as a feminist. After posting an Instagram story encouraging her fans to vote, saw over 35,000 voter registrations. Imagine what she could do if she spoke about anything. While Swift does not owe it to anyone to speak on politics, it’s reasonable to question the recognition she receives as a feminist when any time she does speak on feminism, it sounds a bit like her hit single “ME!” since regardless of how she portrays herself, Swift is not like other women. Swift does not face the same problems the average woman faces.

Consider the lyrics of “The Man”: in the song, Swift sings “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can/Wondering if I’d get there quicker/If I was a man.” Where does she want to get quicker? Is she racing someone to her private jet? She’s only the fourth musician to become a billionaire and the first to do so purely with her music. The misogyny she does face is real and it is hurtful, but the privilege she has as a famous billionaire greatly outweighs the minor setbacks she faces as a woman. 

It is not an exaggeration to say that there is a strong Swiftie population in our school and state community. During the Eras Tour, Swift blessed us humble Missourians with her presence at the Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City for two nights in a row. Arrowhead Stadium seats 76,416, and Swift sold out both nights, meaning that a total of 152,882 people at least bought tickets. Based purely on initial Ticketmaster prices for general tickets and completely ignoring the VIP packages which reached as high as $800, this concert brought in a minimum of $3,744,384. While of course, not everyone attending this concert was a Missourian, there’s clearly strong Swiftie demand in Missouri and at Parkway. 

This is reflected in the Pathfinder, which has a fairly Swiftie-dominated staff. Searching “Taylor Swift” in the search bar yields nine separate articles written specifically about her albums, tours, or music videos, and she’s mentioned in countless more. And of 20 Parkway West students polled, 55.5% said that they considered themselves Swifties, while only 38.9% said that they identified as environmentalists. Taylor Swift has a larger influence over Parkway West than concern for our planet, and students are not giving her up any time soon. 

Swift is, of course, not as bad as her worst critics make her out to be, but she’s also not nearly as perfect as her fans believe her to be. It’s pointless to call for a total boycott of her music. Everyone knows all too well that she is only one of many celebrities and rich people to treat the health of the planet as less than a priority. Additionally, too many girls have been shamed for liking her music and misogyny should not be the price we have to pay for the environment.

But “holding someone accountable” and “sending them death threats and never supporting them again” are not synonyms. Separating the art from the artist and continuing to listen to her songs is one thing, but Swift is never going to change if her fans continue to shill out every dollar they have for her merchandise and concerts. 

“Swift fans have strength in numbers. They are everywhere. If they all stood together for something like the health of the environment, they could make a big impact,” Convergence Journalism teacher Lindsey Katz said. 

So maybe the next time the Scooter Braun recording of “Love Story” plays in public, maybe Swifties will pause a moment before berating the Target employees and think about who and what exactly they are advocating for.

This story was originally published on Pathfinder on November 2, 2023.