Not-so-breaking news from the world of celebrity gossip: Kimye and T-Swift are at it again! And with this particular stage of the celebrity feud, we are given an amazing opportunity to look at how social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat can be used as weapons.
As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, Kim whipped out the big guns this weekend, posting a Snapchat Story of a phone call between Kanye and Taylor. In it, Taylor seemingly gives her approval on lyrics to Kanye’s song Famous on The Life of Pablo album (“for all my Southside niggas that know me best / I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / I made that bitch famous”).
By giving Kanye consent to the lyrics secretly and then publicly shading him for them, Taylor has finally fully revealed just how manufactured a pop star she really is.
This is the story of how Kim introduced Taylor Swift to defeat, for the first time ever, and put some sting on it. Snapchat was the perfect medium for Kim to land such a blow. And by responding on Instagram, Taylor Swift beat herself while she was already down.
But let’s start at the beginning…
Taylor and Kanye have been feuding since he interrupted her 2009 VMA acceptance speech to pronounce Beyoncé queen of all. Things had seemingly been mended until Taylor threw some shade in her 2016 Grammy’s speech for Best Album of the Year, saying that some enemies “will try to undercut your success.”
Many considered the dig was pointed at Kanye for his “Famous” lyrics.
This is where wifey Kim Kardashian West comes into the mix. Last night, in defense of her husband, she posted a series of Snapchat videos to the ephemeral network that show Taylor Swift agreeing to (some) of the lyrics in the song on a phone call between her and Kanye.
Though Snapchats are supposed to disappear, these particular videos live on within the boundaries of the world wide web. You can check out the full series of videos below.
It’s worth noting that Kim (in her short time on Snapchat) has really learned how to make the most of the platform. This video is pre-recorded material, which suggests a home-brew hack. From the looks of it, Kim recorded and edited the call, and then filmed it playing on another screen (her Mac) through Snapchat.
Then, of course, there is another ‘hack’ with the recording of Kim’s Snapchat story for permanent consumption by the internet.
But this isn’t where the story ends.
Taylor Swift abruptly fired back with her preferred social media platform, Instagram.
Check out that caption.
In Taylor’s defense, no part of the video showed her listening to the actual song, and you never hear Kanye relay the “that bitch” lyric to Taylor.
Each party has chosen their own platform through which they participate in this feud.
When he was actually participating, Kanye was using Twitter. Kim has obviously opted for a lethal Snapchat attack, while Taylor has aired her beef on Instagram.
Kanye = Twitter
Kanye is not one to shy away from a stage. Throughout his tenure as a music/style/attitude icon, he has faithfully used Twitter to voice… just about everything.
And this particular tussle was no different. In his own reaction to Taylor Swift’s reaction to the lyrics, he sent out a poorly formatted tweet storm about the meaning of the word “bitch” and explaining that Taylor herself said that Kanye made her famous.
She was allegedly the inspiration behind the tweets!
Kim = Snapchat
Putting Kim entirely on Team Snapchat is a bit hyperbolic. Kim is known to make a splash on any social media platform, and she keeps things quite diverse. Now that she’s discovered Snapchat, however, she seems to be leaning more toward that platform.
When we consider the context of this feud, Snapchat suits Kim quite well. More than the other two, Kim can be a bit underhanded when it comes to drama. She essentially subtweeted Taylor a few times to tease the Snapchat Story she posted.
In fact, Kim never directly said anything about Taylor. And yet, with the (truly brilliant) editing of the film via Snapchat’s 10-second limit, she’s able to paint Taylor as a liar and a manufactured pop icon product instead of an authentic human being.
In fact, you can see from this amazing breakdown by The Ringer’s Sam Donsky that Taylor even brings up the specific number of Instagram likes on a post and mentions her “overexposure.”
Of course, Kim also knows how many Instagram likes she has on certain posts and most certainly understands overexposure, but it’s part of her brand. Snapchat, as an outlet, is not only a smart strategy but an extension of Kim’s authenticity.
In theory, Snapchat is supposed to be a platform where people can share who they really are, in the moment, and treat it like a real-life connection. Plus, Snapchat’s 10-second limit allows Kim to get away with editing the video to show the most honest Kanye moments and the most incriminating Taylor moments.
Taylor = Instagram
Like Kim, Taylor uses many social media platforms to express herself. But Instagram is where she keeps up appearances. She’s built a powerful brand image, and the center of it comes down to being young, sweet and either heartbroken or in love.
She wants you to believe she’s the girl next door, and Instagram is the medium through which she shows us her girl-power friends, her dreamboat boyfriends and her adorable, modest swimsuits at beach parties. In many ways, she treats it just like every twenty-something girl.
She’s “announced” most of her personal news on Instagram, debuting relationships with various boyfriends on the photo-sharing platform. And when it comes to this latest Kimye controversy, Instagram is where she’s airing her side of the story. Fitting, considering that she’s paying such close attention to the number of likes she gets there.
But perhaps Instagram was a mistake. At best for Taylor, Kim’s video paints her as a liar when it comes to the controversy over Kanye’s “Famous” lyrics. At worst — and this is much worse — it lifts the nearly translucent veil off of Taylor’s “good girl” persona.
It shows that Taylor is a product of the pop machine, worrying about her brand image and her press and her social media following. And her response on Instagram, clearly edited and drafted but built to seem personal and genuine on the Notes section of Taylor’s iPhone, all but confirms that.
Kim’s Snapchat video is inconclusive enough that we may never know if Taylor knew about the “that bitch” lyric, or if she signed off on them, or if the entire thing is a co-conspiracy out of both camps to hype each other in the press.
But we can still learn a lot from the way these celebs chose to use social media as a weapon in this battle.
As the mastermind behind the video, Kim’s Snapchat has taught us that she’s clever and she’s for real (even if we’re already certain that the opposite is true). And for bonus points, she will go to great lengths and wage war against mighty foes in defense of her man.
Kanye has taught us, through his performance in the video and his earlier tweet storm, that he is actually a pretty good guy with some strong opinions and he wants to get his art out in the world. For some bonus points, he was a smart man and stood around while a smarter woman handled the art of social media warfare.
Taylor, on the other hand, has taught us a bit too much for her own good. Setting aside her (or anyone else’s) feelings about the word “bitch,” Taylor looked more than two-faced in this situation.
She seems sweet enough on the phone call in Kim’s video, and grateful that Kanye even shared lyrics with her at all. Yet, her Instagram response makes it seem like she was entitled to hear the whole song for approval in the first place.
And even if we forget the nitty-gritty details of these inconsistencies, there is the fact that she concludes the Instagram statement by saying she never wanted any part of this narrative in the first place. Even though she wrote a song about it. And alluded to it in her Grammy’s speech earlier this year.
While Taylor has finally revealed that she is a product of the pop machine, Kim has solidified her place as the pop machine itself.