“Cold was the steel of my axe to grind/ For the boys who broke my heart,” Taylor Swift sings on “Invisible String,” a song on 2020’s Folklore. But things have changed, she continues: “Now I send their babies presents.” In both her music and her public persona, Swift has taken care to show that she’s grown up a lot in the last few years. She’s political now; she records would-be indie albums; she stays mum about her love life in public. But every so often, Swift proves that she didn’t form a reputation as the biggest grudge holder in pop music for nothing. This morning, the target of her ire was a new TV show called Ginny & Georgia and the streaming conglomerate that airs it.
Swift’s complaint is that Ginny & Georgia, a show that debuted on Netflix last week, uses her name in vain in its season finale. Ginny & Georgia is the most popular show on Netflix right now, at least according to the company’s public Top 10 list, but it’s worth noting that it’s—how can I put this?—pretty dumb. It’s a cheesy mashup of Gilmore Girls and a crime caper. Maybe you’ve seen the absurd clip of teens fighting about oppression circulating on social media: That’s from Ginny & Georgia. So the idea of taking anything about this show seriously is a little ridiculous. But to put the offending line in context anyway, it comes in a scene where a teenage daughter and her mother are fighting after the mother learns the daughter is sexually active. At one point the daughter retorts, “What do you care? You go through men faster than Taylor Swift.”
Big whoop, right? Calling this joke “deeply sexist” is verging on ludicrous. Deeply sexist? To say that Swift famously had a lot of boyfriends? It’s a strange hill for her to die on—especially given how Swift herself has made her personal life a major theme in her music throughout her career. In fact, she made essentially the same joke Ginny & Georgia made herself years ago: Does the line “Got a long list of ex-lovers” from “Blank Space” ring any bells?
Granted, Swift is right that the joke is lazy and dated; it’s not remotely sharp in 2021. But then close-reading her tweet further, the accusation of “degrading hard working women” also reads strangely—what does “hard work” have to do with this? And then, does Swift really believe Netflix owes her something just because it released her documentary, Miss Americana, last year? And then: “Happy Women’s History Month I guess.” Uh, indeed? This show debuted in February, and it’s likely Swift got wind of the apparent unflattering reference to her before Monday—did she hold off on posting this tweet until the first day of March so she could really wallop us with the Women’s History Month connection? It’s not like Women’s History Month is a particularly sacred time when it’s worse than usual to take swipes at women; in my experience, it mainly exists as a theme for elementary school book reports.
All of this notwithstanding, the inevitable happened when Swift posted this tweet. She awakened her vast fan army, and they instantly took things to DEFCON 1: Swifties are currently spamming social media with calls to “RESPECT TAYLOR SWIFT” everywhere they can, from replies to Netflix’s tweets to the Instagram account of the actress who says the supposedly sexist line in Ginny & Georgia. It was pretty funny when Swift sicced her fans on the Carlyle Group, and Netflix can handle the criticism, but the individual harassment that this tweet was bound to bring? She should know better. What happened to the mature, baby-present-sending, new-and-improved Taylor?
Swift grumbled that “2010 called and it wants its lazy, deeply sexist joke back,” but I dunno, while 2010 is on the line, would it also like petty, 20-year-old Taylor back? Because she seems to have also wandered into the present