On January 10th, Fox News host Jesse Waters stated, “Around four years ago, the Pentagon’s psychological operations unit floated, turning Taylor Swift into an asset.” Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said, “As for the conspiracy theory, we’ll just Shake it Off.”

The upcoming weeks were a snowball of conspiracy theories claiming that Taylor Swift was using her fame to influence US politics. As the Super Bowl got closer, some others went as far as saying that the Super Bowl was a fraud and the Chiefs were going to win because Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce were to endorse Joe Biden for his presidential reelection.

Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton. Image Courtesy of People.

The Chiefs won the Super Bowl, but no endorsement happened that night. Some other assumptions around Taylor Swift’s presence at the Super Bowl succeeded, as there was a rumor that Taylor Swift got Kanye West kicked out of the Super Bowl because he was sitting near his area in an effort to “shadow her.” Kanye (Ye) West later stated that he was not kicked out and changed seats because he stood up and ran into other friends. 

The presence of Taylor Swift at the Super Bowl caused many more headlines about things that didn’t happen than about things that happened. 

Image Courtesy of Town & Country Magazine

There were no endorsements, no kicking out of Kanye, and virtually no delays from Swift’s flight back to Japan. 

These rumors generate content, and the content generates money for media outlets that spread the rumors regardless of their truthfulness. 

The undeniable factor here is Taylor Swift’s influence in the United States and across the world. It is no coincidence that the Super Bowl LVIII in 2024 was the most-watched broadcast in history with 123 million viewers, drawing the largest-ever female audience for a Super Bowl. 

Image Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly 

Yes, there were many relevant factors in the Super Bowl. It was a competitive game that extended for an additional quarter. There was a really strong performance during the Halftime show led by Usher, and with very special guests that included Alicia Keys, Ludacris and Lil Jon. 

There were other celebrities in the crowd that the camera focused on from time to time, and the fashion press shared timely on their social media: Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Blake Lively, Ice Spice, and Lana del Rey. 

But it was Taylor Swift who made it to the front pages kissing Travis Kelce at the end of the game. It was Taylor Swift who, reportedly, several celebrities wanted to meet during the game. It is Taylor Swift who is being seeked for political endorsements in an election year, where the stakes are high, and Swift’s fame is higher than ever. 

Why Taylor Swift?

Two years ago, it would have been very hard to believe that a white, straight cisgender couple consisting of a football player from Westlake, Ohio, and a country artist from West Reading, Pennsylvania, would be seen as a political threat to the conservative movement. 

How did this happen?

Over the last couple of years, the polarization of our politics started to become more present in industries that, historically, haven’t been part of the political conversations. 

In January 2022, M&M’s announced that the green M&M spokescandies had exchanged her white heeled boots for white sneakers. In an effort to be more inclusive, no specific narratives were suggested for the green character. For some, it was about female empowerment and walking away from the perception that women must always wear high heels.

Shoes of M&Ms triggered a whole controversy about female characters having to be “sexy”. Image Courtesy of Norte News

 For others, it was about inclusion for the transgender and non-binary community, as there are no binary elements assigned for this specific character. 

It was very rare to see so much controversy and anger after the exchange of footwear for a fictional candy character. Tucker Carlson, employed by Fox News at the time, delivered a speech explaining his frustration about the M&M’s characters becoming “less sexy” and “woke.”

The conversation spiraled into backlash that made M&M’s release a statement announcing an indefinite pause to the spokes candies. Was female empowerment and inclusion not worth fighting for? If people were angry about candies being woke and less sexy, was it the best solution to claim they have a point and that female candies should be sexy; therefore, women in America are expected to be sexy?

 These were some of the questions that started to pop up on social media amid a subtle change in the aesthetics of the M&M’s spokescandies. 

Taylor Swift arriving at the Grammys 2024. Image Courtesy of CNN. 

The M&M story gives us context to better understand what happened later with the Bud Light boycott and the Pride collection by Target backlash. Products that historically have not been a subject of political debate, such as the cartoon in a candy package or a beer, are now the center of these political debates.

Yes, every product carries a social, economic, and political connotation. For instance, Made in USA products have a certain element of pride in supporting locally owned businesses, while fast fashion carries the connotation of cheap labor and environmental harm. But the debates we are seeing today scale up to a level where commentators are speaking about indoctrination and ideas that threaten the well-being of our communities. 

So… why Taylor Swift? 

Taylor Swift performs at Lumen Field in Seattle, July 22, 2023. Image Courtesy of Mat Hayward. 

Newspoll’s poll stated that 18% of voters are more likely to vote for a Taylor Swift-endorsed political candidate. 

In 2018, Taylor Swift endorsed Phil Bredesen for the US Senate against then-Rep. Marsha Blackburn. Although Blackburn won the election, the now-senator has been very careful with the words she uses when speaking about Taylor Swift.

In 2023, Taylor Swift shared on her Instagram stories a message encouraging people to register to vote. The portal Vote.org received 35,000 new voter registrations, making a 1,226% peak and doubling the 18-year-olds registered to vote compared to 2022. 

What is it about Taylor Swift that makes her so relevant? 

Time Magazine announced Taylor Swift was the Person of the Year 2023. Image Courtesy of Time. 

It is perhaps the empowering message that she sent not just to her fans but to the whole music industry when she started reclaiming her masters. The “Taylor Versions” are at the top of global charts even though many of the songs are over a decade old. Swift is claiming back her music and her work, which is a very empowering message in a male-dominated music industry. 

It is perhaps her very specific way of telling stories. Taylor Swift’s songs are stories with profound emotional descriptions of feelings, places, sounds, smells, and dialogues. 

It is perhaps how empowering her presence is as she navigates through the challenges in her professional career. Film studios fought over her Eras Tour movie rights, but she decided to have it in theaters independently, making it more profitable for her and her team. 

People in the news fight over the height of the heel of an M&M because female M&M’s have the patriarchal expectation of being “sexy.” If we are putting these sexist expectations in green chocolate, we can only imagine the expectations that our society has on women in the workplace. 

With Midnights, Swift became the first artist in history to claim all top 10 spots on the Billboard Hot 100 in a single frame. Image Courtesy of Taylor Swift. 

These patriarchal ideas suggest that female M&Ms should be sexy, and if she tries to do or be something else, then it is wrong. 

Patriarchal ideas also suggest that women shouldn’t fight back, lead their businesses, generate ideas, or have power and influence over so many people. Taylor Swift is doing all of the above. 

That is why, in this very polarized political fashion era, Swift is seen as an Anti-Hero. She is a strong songwriter who opens her heart about her relationships through music and makes a profit out of that work. She defends and protects herself and her friends when she is attacked. She has a voice that she uses not just to sing but also to mobilize voters and speak about issues she wants to bring up in the conversation.

It is fascinating to see how figures outside of the government are becoming more and more involved in politics because, in the end, politics are linked to the music we listen to and the fashion we wear. 

It is all Political Fashion.