It feels like, after the 23 years of radical divisiveness that have defined 21st century American politics, our two major parties have found a single cause they can get behind: the plight of the Swifties.
The “Swifties,” for the uninitiated, are Taylor Swift’s mega-fans. Not just the ones who’ll tap a toe along to a Swift song on the radio or even who know all of her lyrics. I’m talking about the type that bought all of the vinyl, cassette and CD special editions of her latest album “Midnights” (there are over 20, according to Billboard). And they all wanted concert tickets.
Then they ran into everyone’s least-favorite monopoly: Ticketmaster.
As Time noted, “fans saved up hundreds of dollars and took days off work during pre-sales, so they could wait in virtual queues to buy tickets to Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour.
“Some waited for hours on Ticketmaster’s website, only to see tickets they’d selected disappear from their carts or be booted out of line when the website glitched. Many of those lucky enough to secure tickets were hit with costly fees, and resellers began to list tickets online for more than $20,000.”
Which is why everyone has taken up the cause of the Swifties. It’s not that every member of the Senate has some secret love for TayTay’s oeuvre. It’s that the debacle that was November’s pre-sale event was the most prominent market failure for a company with a brand reputation that falls somewhere between Cambridge Analytica and a Ford Pinto with a box of lit Roman candles strapped to the rear bumper.
“I want to congratulate and thank you for an absolutely stunning achievement: You have brought together Republicans and Democrats in an absolutely unified cause,” Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said during the Tuesday hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
That didn’t stop senators from trying to act like they were 40 years younger than they were and trying to act like cool-kid Swift fans for the day. Especially — sigh — Blumenthal.
Should Ticketmaster be broken up?
Now, a bit of background: Despite being the most obvious predatory mega-monopoly in recent corporate memory, something that makes Microsoft in the 1990s look like a garage start-up, Ticketmaster claimed that it lacked the resources to handle the massive crush of fans that wanted to buy tickets — or the resellers who use bots to scoop up those seats. Instead, it shifted the blame to Swift and her enthusiastic fans.
Blumenthal’s response: “May I suggest, respectfully, that Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the problem, it’s me?’”
This, for the uninitiated, was taken from the lyrics to Swift’s hit “Anti-Hero”: “It’s me, hi / I’m the problem, it’s me (I’m the problem, it’s me) / At teatime, everybody agrees / I’ll stare directly at the sun, but never in the mirror.”
This could not have possibly been more cringeworthy, as Twitterers noted:
To be fair, Blumenthal wasn’t the only one doing this — or being called out for it on social media.
Here’s Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, with an ode to Swift’s “All Too Well.”
And this was a bipartisan phenomenon, too, which swept up legislators I actually like. Take GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah — please — who referenced multiple Swift songs during the hearing:
It’s enough to make you wish Joe Biden hadn’t been selected as Barack Obama’s vice president, thus putting him on the path to the White House instead of living out his final years of public service in his old spot chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In an attempt to invoke Swift, of course, our 46th president would have instead accidentally quoted two artists from his youth and an up-and-coming act that’s all the rage with the kids — Stephen Foster, Gilbert & Sullivan and Depeche Mode, say.
It is worth noting, however, that out of all these senators pretending they’re Swifties in disguise, Blumenthal is the only one who faked a story about serving in Vietnam. But then, what can you expect out of Congress? After all, it’s a body which could take its official motto from the title of a Taylor Song: “I’d Lie.”
Unfortunately for Swift fans, the real winner on Tuesday seemed to be the bad guys. When the Senate is so unserious about taking on a predatory corporate leviathan that its members are tripping over themselves to get in the most-viral Swift-quoting moment of the hearing, it’s clear that Ticketmaster has nothing to fret about.
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