Over the weekend, a person with a desire to stir up chaos in the middle of a pandemic deemed it an opportune time to rehash one of the most annoyingly lengthy feuds in celebrity history. To do that, this unknown party leaked what appears to be the full, infamous phone call between Kanye West and Taylor Swift about his song “Famous.” That person is now my nemesis.
Some context: “Famous” was the original comeback of this decade-plus beef. Swift and West’s first encounter was at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, when West interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech for Female Video of the Year and claimed that Beyoncé (who won Video of the Year later that night for “Single Ladies”) should have taken home the moonman instead. Tensions lingered between the two with thinly veiled references to each other in their music – Swift sang “32, and still growing up now” a year later on “Innocent,” while West gave a “toast to the douchebags” on “Runaway” – and in interviews. In 2015, the duo publicly buried the hatchet at the VMAs when Swift presented West with his Video Vanguard Award.
Things were fine – dare we say peaceful – until West released The Life of Pablo in early 2016. On the song “Famous,” West rapped, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous/Goddamn, I made that bitch famous.” West claimed he had asked for permission from Swift. Swift, via a statement from her publicist Tree Paine, claimed that she had not been made aware of the line “I made that bitch famous.”
Later that year, West’s wife Kim Kardashian leaked footage of the phone call on Snapchat where West tells her about the “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex” line. Cue a series of snake emojis on Swift’s Instagram and Twitter and the entire Reputation era a year later.
The case of Kimye vs. Swift vs. The Very Tired Public has still been buzzing for some time: When Swift did interviews to promote her latest album Lover last year, she maintained her stance that she had never heard the song in full and that the line where he calls her a “bitch” and takes credit for her career was withheld.
Still, here we are, nearly 11 years after this all began, being forced into some of the most poorly timed drama a person could imagine. The video that had been leaked last weekend proves favorable towards Swift: If it is, in fact, the whole call, West does not play the song in full and never mentions the line she had been angry about for years.
Besides “liking” some Tumblr posts about the newly leaked footage, Swift stayed quiet on the matter until Monday afternoon. “Instead of answering those who are asking how I feel about the video footage that leaked, proving that I was telling the truth the whole time about *that call* (you know, the one that was illegally recorded, that somebody edited and manipulated in order to frame me and put me, my family, and fans through hell for 4 years)…SWIPE UP to see what really matters,” the Grammy winner wrote on a text-only Instagram Story slide. The link in the Instagram Story re-directed her followers to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. In the next post on her Story, she encouraged people to join her in donating to the fund.
Later that evening, Kardashian jumped in — because we were all absolutely thirsting for more content about this — and claimed that Swift had re-ignited the feud and Kardashian subsequently needed to defend herself and her husband. She also expressed annoyance at Swift bringing it up while millions of “real victims” face the looming threat of the coronavirus — a fitting entry in the “Who Cares More?” Olympics.
“To be clear, the only issue I ever had around the situation was that Taylor lied through her publicist who stated that ‘Kanye never called to ask for permission…,’” Kardashian wrote in her tweetstorm, referring to Paine. “They clearly spoke so I let you all see that. Nobody ever denied the word ‘bitch’ was used without her permission.”
She continued by defending the claim that she did not edit the footage for Snapchat and that West has every right to continue filming his album-recording process, something he has done since The College Dropout. She ended her statement with “nobody cares,” the most easily fact-checked (and true) sentence out of everything we have gotten this past week.
Paine jumped into the ring with her full response to “Famous” from 2016 (which Rolling Stone can confirm was quoted in our coverage during the 2016 events).
I’m Taylor’s publicist and this is my UNEDITED original statement. Btw, when you take parts out, that’s editing.
— Tree Paine (@treepaine) March 24, 2020
What does this all mean? Absolutely nothing. There could not have been a worse time for this to resurface: we are all literally trapped in our homes (Did I fail to mention the pandemic? There’s a pandemic!) with no current work-home separation. That is, of course, if you were actually fortunate enough to keep your job due to everything shutting down and the economy crumbling. We’re tired! No one needed to respond! As Kourtney Kardashian once screamed at a frantic Kim who was looking for a lost earring in the ocean: “Kim, there’s people that are dying.”
Can we restart? Can we leave it at the many angry response bops we have gotten and move on? Please, I beg of everyone involved, make it stop.