“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that [expletive] famous.”
I’m sure everybody has heard this now-infamous line in Kanye West’s “Famous” song on his new album, The Life of Pablo.
Though it may seem inconsequential, the line has larger ramifications. Not only is it false, but it is also detrimental to young girls.
First of all, West claiming that he made Swift famous is a total lie. His well-known interruption of her MTV Video Music Awards speech in 2009 certainly did not shove her into stardom. She was already an extremely famous and a well-established country star.
Swift had released her first album in 2006, with two of its singles reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Her second studio album, Fearless, was released in 2008 and made Swift a household name. It was even the top-selling album of 2009 and spurred a tour that was attended by 1.1 million fans.
But, according to Kanye, 1.1 million fans aren’t enough to be famous. He had to make her famous.
Swift did not become famous because of a short incident at the VMAs. She became famous through the hard work of writing her own songs and then promoting the heck out of them.
Interestingly, I think the incident might have made West famous instead. I barely knew who Kanye West was until he interrupted Taylor Swift. For example, using Google Trends, the 2009 event was the most popular time in West’s entire career, reaching a search interest of 100.
The effects of the misogynistic line from “Famous” reaches further than you might think. West’s music reaches millions of people, and even if you don’t listen to him, you have heard about these lyrics. By taking credit for Swift’s fame, West is taking her success and hard work away from her. He is saying it’s OK for men to take credit for women’s achievements.
Swift struck back in a professional and strong manner after she won a Grammy for Album of the Year on Feb. 15, stating:
“And as the first woman to win Album of the Year at the Grammys twice, I want to say to the young women out there, there are going to be people along the way who try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame. But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you’re going, you will look around and you will know it was you and the people who love you who put you there, and that will be the greatest feeling in the world.”
Through these words, Swift shows that she won’t back down to a lyric by West. Instead, she empowers and encourages young women to work hard and rightfully take credit for their achievements. Swift succeeded in turning a misogynistic lyric into an important message.
Isabelle D'Antonio is a contributing columnist for the Central Florida Future.