Taylor Swift, QAnon, and the Political Weaponization of Fandom

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Taylor Swift, QAnon, and the Political Weaponization of Fandom

Taylor Swift remains inescapable. The stories of his reign are legion, as are his fans. Next to Beyoncé, her power and influence reached an unstoppable height that was almost unfathomable. His Eras Tour grossed nearly a billion dollars in 2023, and the concert film of the tour brought in nearly $250 million worldwide. When rumors began to swirl in the fall that she was dating Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, they upended American football. Anyway, when PERIOD named her Person of the Year, conspiracy theorists see only one explanation. They accused Swift of being a psyop.

If you’ve lived on the internet long enough, you’ve heard this stuff before. Back in 2016, when he was largely apolitical in his public life, Swift was a hero of the so-called alt-right that some believed was really red-pilling America to pursue a racist, conservative agenda. When he piped up about politics in 2018, some people online (somewhat jokingly) said he was replaced by an NPC. The latest twist? “The regime has plans to arm him in time for 2024,” the @EndWokeness account posted by X Wednesday, adding that if you don’t find it believable “you obviously don’t care.”

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@EndWokeness has 1.9 million followers, and, as of Monday morning, the post had more than 788,000 views. On Telegram, a QAnon influencer account posted that “we must wake up the next generation of occult forces conspiring with their favorite artists.” Right-wing commentator Jack Posobiec posted by X that “the Taylor Swift girlboss psyop has been fully activated.”

Last week’s Person of the Year honor was also followed by emerging allegations that Swift practiced witchcraft to maintain her success and that she was being used by the left to influence the 2024 US presidential election. Stephen Miller, a senior adviser during the presidency of Donald Trump, posted a message on X saying that “what happened to Taylor Swift was not organic.”

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All this happened the same week WIRED reporter David Gilbert published an investigation into a pro-Russia campaign that used fake Swift quotes in a series of Facebook and X posts that tried to sow anti- Ukraine sentiment, which reinforces—in a different way—that. celebrity is a powerful tool for manipulation. A few days later, Microsoft researchers revealed a similar effort by an unknown Russian group to alter cameo videos of celebs like Elijah Wood and Mike Tyson to make them appear critical of the president. of Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky.

Swift exists as a unique example of the intersection of celebrity and politics, and how it operates globally, said Jonathan Dean, a professor of politics at the University of Leeds. “An important part of the culture and politics of the last 10 years, certainly in the UK and the US and I think probably more broadly as well, is that there has been a significant convergence of grammar and style and manner, if you like. you, in pop culture fandom and political citizenship,” he said, referring to similar ways that fandoms and political parties can operate. “Taylor Swift is interesting in that sense because I think she’s a real figure. of mergers.”

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