​​Student Opinion: “Anti-Hero” Controversy



By Kayla Ngai

As always, Taylor Swift is the subject of much controversy and speculation. On October 21rst, she released her latest and highly anticipated album, “Midnights,” and the following day, the music video for “Anti-Hero,” one of the tracks on the album, was released. Many complaints arose calling the music video problematic because she was being “fatphobic.” The song is about Taylor Swift’s anxieties and self-hatred— so the footage encapsulates her sharing her insecurities, which does not truly entail anything wrong. 


Context and nuance need to be understood when watching the specific controversial clip play out. The scene depicted Taylor Swift standing on a scale while another version of herself looked over. Nobody had any problems with this general clip, but the word “FAT” spelled out on the scale triggered some fans. A TikTok user @fatpositivetherapist posted a video commenting how it was insensitive: “how does she think her fans who are in larger bodies feel when they see that…one of her biggest fears is being like them.” Of course, this user is allowed to feel offended, but Taylor Swift’s portrayal of her own eating disorder does not make her fatphobic. The scale was numberless, so there was no way of telling what weight Taylor feels is too large or small for herself. The scene is representative of how, regardless of the number, Swift never felt she was good enough. 


Taylor Swift has stated how this song was “a real guided tour about… all the things” she tended to hate about herself— an ode to some of her more personal struggles. Another Tiktoker @gwenethdaisy stitched this video with a take on this whole debacle, stating how people are  “allowed to have their own body issues” and how others need to stop “invalidating Taylor’s experience,” making it about themselves. Taylor Swift was just speaking for herself. 


Many fans rushed to the comment sections on both Tiktok videos (@fatpositivetherapist’s comment section is now turned off) to agree, saying how they liked that portion of the music video because it was something they could relate to. Justifyingly, Swift had created more spaces for people to voice their insecurities. 


Whoopi Goldberg even came to Taylor Swift’s defense. On “the View,” she declared: “Just let her have her feelings. If you don’t like the song, don’t listen to it.” Her commentary also alluded to how Taylor Swift has been hated and criticized for years, as being a popular female artist exposed her to that. People will always find something to complain about. 


Taylor Swift is known for being very open and public about her body image issues. She has spoken about her eating disorder in her documentary “Miss Americana” and how the media commenting on her body was terrible for her mental health. Thus, in “Midnights,” Swift expresses her emotions and takes a deep dive through her “melancholia.” There is no debate about Taylor Swift’s message in this scene being connected to her own disorder. A question to consider is:why is the paparazzi allowed to call Taylor Swift “fat,” but she is unable to share her own struggles? “FAT” was a word used against her and one that she internalized, so her video is a visual of Taylor overcoming her own disparaging thoughts and oppression. 


Subsequently, due to the negative comments, on October 26, Taylor Swift’s team edited her Anti-Hero music video on Apple Music to remove the “problematic” clip. The original Youtube video soon followed suit hours later. Despite this being a reaction to the hateful comments, there is more discussion on bringing the scene back into the music videos. There is no winning either way. 


Taylor Swift mentioned she liked ‘Anti-Hero a lot because of its honesty. I agree; it is a great song and highly relatable, especially in its depiction of becoming one’s own greatest enemy and engaging in self-sabotage, which is an experience many go through. I can understand why some people may have a problem with the word “FAT” in the music video, but it is important to remember that this album is not representative of everyone. Taylor Swift is allowed to talk about her own personal experiences and voice her struggles through her art. 


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