Monsters, Miss Americana, and Me: A Taylor Swift Fan’s Objection

Two nights ago something festered in the not-small Taylor Swift portion of my brain as I listened to my friend and colleague Claire Dederer talk about her new book Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma at Third Place Books here in Seattle. One source of our dilemmas as fans, Dederer said, springs from the fact that these days “biography is everywhere.” We no longer have to wait years to read the one biography detailing the intimacies of our favorite artists’ lives. The biography is everywhere.

As I listened in this crowded room to a discussion referencing the names we’ve come to associate with fan exodus–JK, Woody, Roman–a particular biography that is everywhere began to form a montage in my thoughts unbidden: the biography of Taylor Swift. A biography dear to me as a Swiftie who’s found great joy not only in the music of Taylor Swift but in the Swiftie TikTok community that admittedly relishes connecting the dots between her lyrics and what we know of her life. Like a whirring and clicking microfiche in a movie about a 1970s exposé, my inner filmstrip zoomed in and offered up grainy images of Taylor’s reported new love interest, Matty Healy, at her May 2023 concerts in Nashville and Philly followed by truncated clips of TikToks outlining the questionable quality of the character of this guy, lead singer of the band 1975 and a known “provocateur” (ugh!). Over the last day, the temperature of the conversation had escalated, and I’d seen TikToks allude to his harmful comments. I watched but didn’t investigate, perhaps because I didn’t want it to be true.

The next day I saw a shift in the tone of the conversation: I scrolled through a number of TikToks of grieving Swifties collectively expressing sadness and making the point that whether she’s dating him or not, she has aligned herself with him and given him access to her platform. In Nashville, he made an appearance on the Eras stage with special guests Boygenius.

Taylor Swift performing at the State Farm Arena in Glendale, Arizona March 2023 (Photo: Taylr Scott)

But then, a turning point: I heard one creator mention Healy’s use of the Nazi salute onstage and racist comments about the rapper Ice Spice. And then I watched one of my favorite TikTokers, Black creator @adhdwhileblack, point out in this video Matty Healy’s degradation of Black women, emphasizing that “this is not ‘bad boy core,’ this is ‘racist core.'” This led me to this Buzzfeed article that enumerates his racist and misogynist comments, often offered up with dufus jocularity (ew!) and inchoate contrarian ramblings (ugh!). But most disturbing in this article–and the coup de grâce for me–is his joking recounting of his consumption of pornography that he himself admits portrays the “battering” of Black women. (Battering in quotation marks here to indicate that he himself used the word battering).

Okay, stop. Just stop everything.

Taylor, just stop. Stop aligning yourself with this man. Stop giving him access to your audience. You are hurting Black women. You are hurting Jewish people.You are hurting yourself. You are hurting us who have loved you.

In this TikTok from Jewish creator @moremesslore, she posits that the past actions, statements, and work of an artist create a social contract between the artist and their audience. She then argues persuasively that Taylor created a specific social contract–by aligning herself with Jewish artists (Jack Atonoff, the Haim sisters, others) and LGBTQIA+ and progressive communities–that assured @moremesslore as a consumer that there was little to no chance that she’d be exposed to anti-Semitism from the stage at a Taylor Swift concert. Her argument–please do watch her TikTok in full–convinced me that Taylor Swift has broken this contract with her fans by giving access to her platform, VIP seating, and the Eras stage to Matt Healy, who–as mentioned–has previously used a Nazi salute onstage.

One of the things Claire Dederer talked about at the Monsters event on Monday night was how we often focus on ourselves as “consumers” when we are discussing how to engage with the art of those who’ve said or done monstrous things. In her years researching for Monsters and thinking through “the fan’s dilemma,” she came to realize that the lens of the consumer was a limited view of engaging with art. It can also be a confusing one. Yes, I can tally up the money spent on concert tickets, CDs, and merch, but we often listen to music through radio and streaming services in which our money takes a less obvious route between ourselves and any one artist. And what about the cost of my time, my attention, my love?

After the event, I stood around with some other writers talking about our sadness over the artists we can no longer enjoy “even if we wanted to,” even if we decided our consumption was without consequence. We talked about the sadness of not laughing at one particular comic’s jokes any longer. The artists we love give us laughter and joy and a reprieve from our troubles. There is a social contract between us that allows us to let them into our hearts and minds. Of course, we are sad when that contract is broken. Of course, we are sad when the laughter ends.

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Enrolling Now: July 7th Memoir Intensive

Let’s spend a day devoted to memoir together on Friday July 7th! In the morning we’ll focus on brainstorming activities designed to get to the heart of your work as a writer, shorter prompts, and craft lessons on scene writing and strategies for moving between timeframes and narrative modes. Then over a block of time that will include our lunch break, you’ll have a choice of longer prompts to work on. At the end of the is time, you’ll have the option to submit this writing to me for written comments. The last afternoon block will be devoted to lecture and discussion on topics ranging from inviting the rneader into the work, narrative arc, thematic drive, collage techniques, the publication process, and how to make the most of your writing time.

Instructor: Theo Nestor

Cost: $295

Date and Time: July 7th, 10am to 4pm Pacific Time

Class size: 16 max.

Where: Zoom

Questions? Email me at

About Theo Pauline Nestor

Author of Writing Is My Drink (Simon & Schuster) and How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed. Learn more about my courses, editing, and coaching at
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