Fame is a Fickle Friend

To Harry Potter? I’d say not, considering the growing hype surrounding the ever-nearing opening date (April 7, 2016) of the The Wizarding World in Hollywood.

To Taylor Swift? That’s far more likely.

I’ve only recently started seeing this news on my newsfeeds and timelines and what-have-you’s, so I was honestly a little surprised to see how many articles Google could pull up when I typed in “Taylor Swift squad goals criticism” and how this article from Gawker, titled “Taylor Swift is Not Your Friend” didn’t get more traction when it went live in July.

In case you’re not up to speed, Taylor Swift started the #SquadGoals hashtag in the summer, which in turn started a surge on social media where (predominantly) girls and women followed suit. Being in the #Squad was, in plain words, a sign of being accepted and wanted as a friend in this group.

It looked and felt empowering. As other writers have noted, “It must feel warm to be on the inside” (Amy Stockwell, Mamamia). For outsiders, it was inspirational. You, too, wanted to be part of this Instagrammable group because they seemed to love being together and having fun together. She even had me going for quite a while as well.

Photo Courtesy of manrepeller.com

So why, then, has a writer from Refinery 29 felt the urge to write an article to defend Swift from not just one, but four articles that question her #SquadGoals?

Yes, Swift has been and still is empowering the idea of women supporting other women and the strength in having strong friendships with women. And yes, it is a little unfair to criticize her for “not doing enough” to widen the acceptance and reach of feminist values given the demographic of her #Squad. Because even if she did, has, or will do more to expand the diversity of her #Squad, we cannot put the burden of raising awareness and fighting for feminism on the shoulders of just one woman.

I think writer Dayna Evans, in the original Gawker piece, hit the nail right on the head in regards to why Swift’s #SquadGoals should be approached with caution rather than at full speed. At a concert, in a pre-song speech, Swift laid out her “rules for friendship” to be as follows: “Number one: You have to like me. Number two: You have to want to spend time with me.”

What Evans points out is that Swift doesn’t explain “what’s in it for people who become friends with her. One presumes Swift thinks getting to be friends with Taylor Swift is a good enough bargain, but real friendship is not, after all, a one-way street.”

This element of a one-sided friendship is, I agree, at the root of the questions, concerns, and anxiety surrounding Swift’s #Squad. Yes, we may like Swift for her immense generosity to her fans in great need (or other reasons). And yes, we may also want to spend time with her after seeing all the baked goods she’s made and her cats being adorable. And based on her own “rules for friendship,” this does, in fact, make us her friends…

Photo Courtesy of Taylor Swift, Facebook

But maybe we’re still only “Facebook friends.” Because what we can understand and glean from a high quality Instagram photo or a long text post on Tumblr from Swift herself doesn’t necessarily correlate to her giving us the same level of time and dedication that we have given to her (by purchasing concert tickets, queuing at her concert, buying merchandise, reblogging her photos, and so on and so forth).

Realistically, no, Swift cannot cater to all 74 million of her Facebook friend/fans in person. But she can do is reassure all of us that yes, she does like us, and yes, she would also want to spend time with us as well (if, of course, she had a Time Turner or a Tardis or some other time machine that would physically allow her to do so).

Words don’t mean as much as actions, but for a woman who is as often in the limelight and on trending topics as Taylor Swift, perhaps that’s all the action that’s needed for a new, inclusive #SquadGoal to form.


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