The Swifties Are Unionizing? Excuse Me?
Friends, I need to come clean: I’m a Swiftie. My most listened-to songs of 2022? It was a tie between two of Taylor Swift‘s songs (“Cruel Summer” and “Betty”.) Unfortunately, Swift has made it extremely hard to be a fan lately because if the rumors are true, she’s dating Matty Healy, who is a terrible human being and has said some racist, sexist, awful things. I’m not alone in feeling betrayed and conflicted about my love of her music, here.
However, because Swift has encouraged a parasocial relationship with fans, some are taking this Healy betrayal to heart and doing something about it other than easing off their fandom and listening to her music less (if at all). They’re starting a union, seriously:
While I can’t find the original source of the Taylor Swift Fan Union, or TSFU for short, it’s making the rounds on Reddit and Twitter, as you can see above, so let’s break down the manifesto, shall we? I’ve written out the contents of the announcement from the embedded Tweets above.
Fans do the vast majority of promotion and marketing for Taylor Swift without being compensated.
Yet we, as fanworkers, still have no formal bargaining power in the musical direction or brand identity of the celebrity we collectively created.TSFU
I mean, look, this is objectively a bananas take, so this is the first indication that perhaps this is not quite serious!? Demanding recognition for someone else’s celebrity and accomplishment is certainly a hot take, let’s just put it that way.
The Taylor Swift Fan Union offers fan workers the ability to collectively bargain for a creative vision of Taylor Swift that better aligns with our shared values.
The TSFU also demands the recognition of our labor through compensation and health benefits.TSFU
Personally, I would love to get paid and have health benefits for listening to Taylor Swift. The Eras tour is supposed to push her over the finish line into billionaire status, so clearly, she could spare the money, right?! However, the acronym of “TSFU” is yet another hint that this is the creation of a disgruntled fan who wants to bring it to her attention that Matty Healy is the worst and she needs to disavow him publicly for many fans to stay fans—which is made even more explicit in the next part:
Recently many fan workers were harmed by Taylor’s unilateral decision to date an alt right extremist without union consultation.
The TSFU unequivocally stands against hate and will work towards a future where this kind of workplace violence never happens again.TSFU
As Taylor herself sang in “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince,” “You play stupid games, you win stupid prizes.” In this case, she fostered a close parasocial relationship with her fans for so long that of course they will have an intense reaction when she aligns herself with someone who is associated with the alt-right. There was always bound to be a backlash with that kind of relationship. So, here’s your prize for playing this game, Taylor: The TSFU.
To maintain accountability to fan values, we propose a seasonal meeting between Swift, her management, and elected TSFU representative to come to a collective agreement on matters relating to her future musical output, social life, touring schedule, commercial endorsement, and fan availability.TSFU
If you had any doubt now that this was unserious, the above should push you over into satire territory.
As fanworkers who’ve dedicated countless hours to studying and constructively criticizing Taylor’s celebrity, we are uniquely well positions to offer creative suggestions for her career moving forward.
Who better than fanworkers to determine what fanworkers want and need?TSFU
I’m absolutely positive the advice here would be “Dump Matty Healy.” He said terrible things about a lot of people and hangs out with people who have harmful views and have said awful things about Taylor and her beloved mother. Taylor! What are you thinking?!
The TSFU also seeks remuneration for previously uncompensated promotional labor.
This includes fanworkers’ fair share of revenue for album sales, streams, merchandise, and concert tickets—none of which would be possible without the labor of the TSFU.TSFU
As I said, Swift was by far my top streamed artist last year, so selfishly, I’m in if this ever happens. (Narrator voice: It will never happen.)
Many fanworkers are still processing the trauma of Taylor’s associations with the alt right despite her previous commitments to BIPOC and LGBTQIAA2S+ allyship.
The TSFU looks to establish emergency mental health services for all of those still suffering, including therapy and hospitalization costs.TSFU
On Friday, at her Chicago concert, Swift made a proclamation about how the concert is a “safe space” and acknowledged Pride month. She is still actively trying to portray herself as an ally while dating Healy, who clearly is not. This is white woman feminism at its finest: performative and empty.
The manifesto ends with this:
By joining the United Musicians and Allied Workers, the TSFU looks to become the first formally recognized fan union in history—revolutionizing labor relations between fanworkers and the celebrities they’ve labored to create.
Now if our moment to end exploitation and create equitable representation for Swifties everywhere.TSFU
The TSFU has absurd demands, but as I’ve said throughout this and something that is widely acknowledged: Taylor courts this kind of relationship, so naturally, when a vast majority of fans feel betrayed by her aligning with someone who, in the very least, is far too comfortable with alt-right (read: fascist and hateful) views and people, there was bound to be a lot of backlash.
I mean, as she wrote in her song Cardigan, “A friend to all is a friend to none.” Maybe she needs to take her own advice here and ditch Healy because you can’t play both sides and expect to get away with it. Until then, solidarity with the TSFU, comrades.
(featured image: Kevin Mazur/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]