It’s the story gripping the tabloids. The Kanye West v Taylor Swift feud has escalated to new levels, and it’s all about that line. But who is this whole thing worth the most to, and why?
A quick background, in case you missed it:
11 February 2016: Kanye drops new track Famous, which includes the lyric: "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / Why? I made that bitch famous." Kanye claims all was dandy with Taylor, she totally approved... Taylor’s team responds with "um, hell no he did not."
16 June 2016: Kim Kardashian West pipes up with "Taylor totally approved those lyrics – and I’ve recorded the conversation.P Everyone’s like, "Pff, oh no you didn’t".
18 July 2016: … OH YES SHE DID! Kim snapchats a recording of the phone conversation where Kanye speaks to Taylor about the use of her name in Famous, which Taylor sounds pretty much apparently cool with. Taylor takes to Instagram to specify she didn’t consent to being called ‘that bitch’ and doesn’t want to be involved in this ‘narrative’.
Oh boy. This is far from over.
So in summary: a line was written by Kanye, about Taylor, and the conversation about this line was recorded and released by Kim. One lyric, one conversation and three people, who all value these two events quite differently. Let's take a look at how much this scandal is worth to whom:
Money: 10/10 Although it’s tricky to estimate a figure, there’s no denying that Kanye is making a fair whack out of the lyric. It’s safe to say that the amount of money for Kanye in a world where he instead raps, for example, "I feel like my car trailer is not complex/Why? I made that steel stainless" instead is one where he makes a bit less money.
Reputation: 7/10 Whatever comes out of this, it's probably not going to do any harm for Kanye’s image - maximum controversy is kinda his style.
The publicity for the song has been huge, and the line didn't hurt. Great value here.
Whether or not she OK'd it, the song's not hers – so aside from increased publicity, she's not set to make much out of this money-wise.
A super popular artist, she’s released some damn catchy tunes. But what the world loves most about Taylor is her openness about life and her cool relatability. She’s the kind of girl we all want to be best friends with. So when Famous was first out, the Swifties leapt to her defence. However, the recorded conversation has gone some way to throw that image. Do we all still want to be best friends with someone who may have done a bit of truth fabrication? It’s a derogatory line about her and she has every reason to react negatively to it. But if it’s a scandal she’s actually created herself, she may have effectively ‘shaken off’ her reputation for truth and honesty.
Whatever happens to her reputation, the line has definitely got her name in the tabloids... though Hiddleswift was taking care of that already anyway.
... Unless Kanye wants to share.
Rightful Queen of the Social Medias, we can only bow down to her expert use of Twitter and Snapchat in giving the world the news it needs to hear. However, this might have not such a savvy move now it’s come out that the recording is probably illegal... stay tuned.
Kim first gave Twitter followers the heads-up they "might want to follow her on Snapchat" before releasing the recorded conversation, massively boosting her already size-y following. The use of Snapchat for the big reveal made it a more understated don’t-mind-me-I’ll-just-leave-this-here-oops moment than the big squark that tends to come from a controversial tweet. Well played, Kim.
So it's not just about the money. Or is it?
The value from the lyric is around the reputational damage, or ‘character assassination’ as Taylor herself calls it. But in a world where we mortals are following the lives of celebrities, image is everything. So while it’s not really a money thing, there’s definitely a few quid tied up for all involved.
So can you measure 'character assassination' in dollars? What about emotional damage? Businesses can take out ‘reputation insurance’ in case theirs gets damaged - could people do the same?
What this feud comes down to is issues of ownership and value. Money and value are obviously linked in a relationship, as cosy as Hiddleswift. And, like Hiddleswift, there’s no clear lines on where it'll end up – it's all a matter of perspective.
At least one group isn't complaining about the money behind this feud: the tabloids. Not only is their copy handed to them on a plate, it’s neatly cut up and partially chewed - and we, the dutiful readers, can’t help but click. The good news for them is that the drama shows no signs of ending any time soon. Watch this (blank) space.