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Taylor Swift on stage in 2013 after being groped at a Denver meet-and-greet.
Taylor Swift on stage in 2013 after being groped at a Denver meet-and-greet.
Eric Gruneisen

Reader: Music as a Form of Expression Has Always Been Political

In August 2017, Taylor Swift won a sexual-assault civil suit against former KYGO DJ David Mueller, who'd groped her during a 2013 meet-and-greet. That Denver trial — grueling, victim-doubting, infuriating — galvanized her, Swift says in Lana Meyer's Miss Americana , the new Netflix documentary chronicling the performer’s move to break her longstanding and conspicuous silence on politics.

Before that trial, Swift recounts in the documentary, she thought that “a nice girl doesn’t force their opinions on people, doesn’t make people uncomfortable.” Over the past few years, though, she’s learned to care less about being universally likable.

Good thing, too, because Brendan asks: 

She's still relevant?

Responds Bradley: 

Relevant? She made $180 million in just 2018.... she is literally the highest-paid celebrity in the world. Ya. I think that counts as relevant.

Adds Bruce: 

Look, I have been trying my hardest to avoid listening to her music, but last night getting high I thought what the heck. And it wasn't that bad. I'm sold. You asked if she was still relevant: I'm 47 years old...you tell me.

Says Brian: 

She’s an idiot. Politics and music don’t mix.... I’m all for equality and protecting women, but keep music and politics separate. Music is meant to bring people together, not divide them.

Counters Naomi:

Do your research. Music as a form of expression has always been political, since the beginning of humanity.

Notes Roberta: 

It’s hard to keep them separate when someone literally assaulted her while she was doing her job, which was music. Was she just supposed to ignore it?


Notes Austin:

 Some of the most revolutionary artists throughout history have been political activists, starting especially with the blues in the South, then rooting up into artists like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, then to the peace and love era with Jimi Hendricks, The Doors, Janice Joplin, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and then with more relevant artists from the '90’s, for example like Tool, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and more.

Concludes Stephanie:

 I’m definitely not a fan of anything “pop” but stumbled upon this documentary and it was neat to see her evolution as a human. I’m sure a lot of folks would be critical about her not doing enough, but I hope she continues to grow and find her voice — I wish more people would use their platform to advocate for other people.

“Something is different in my life, completely and unchangeably different, since the sexual-assault trial,” Swift says in the film, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January. “I couldn’t really stop thinking about it. And I thought to myself, ‘Next time there’s any opportunity to change anything, you had better know what you stand for and what you wanna say.’”

What do you have to say about the change in Swift's approach? Do politics and music mix? Post a comment or email editorial@westword.com.

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