There have been two constants throughout Taylor Swift’s career: She writes catchy as hell songs about her love life, and she has studiously avoided weighing in on anything remotely political.
The latter changed in a stark way on Friday, when Swift posted a message on Instagram that informed her 106 million followers that she has made a donation to the March for Our Lives campaign to end gun violence ahead of the march this weekend, an effort to “support gun reform.”
“No one should have to go to school in fear of gun violence. Or to a nightclub. Or to a concert. Or to a movie theater. Or to their place of worship,” Swift wrote. She later credited the teenage survivors, faculty, and families, of Parkland, Florida, “who have spoken out, trying to prevent this from happening again” as the inspiration for her decision.
No one should have to go to school in fear of gun violence. Or to a nightclub. Or to a concert. Or to a movie theater. Or to their place of worship. I’ve made a donation to show my support for the students, for the March For Our Lives campaign, for everyone affected by these tragedies, and to support gun reform. I’m so moved by the Parkland High School students, faculty, by all families and friends of victims who have spoken out, trying to prevent this from happening again.
Again: this is a very unusual move for Swift, whose control over her public image has always been incredibly important to her and her career. When asked about politics earlier in her career, she always demurred; the most overtly political statements she’s made have been identifying as a feminist and throwing some vague support in Barack Obama’s direction back in 2009.
As more and more Hollywood heavyweights started visibly backing Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the 2016 election, Swift remained neutral until Election Day — at which point she still managed to remain neutral by posting a picture of herself in line to vote without any hint of who she might be voting for. Some theorized that she stays out of liberal versus conservative debates to preserve her original country music audience; others muse that maybe she just finds it all too messy in the grand scheme of her pop idol persona.
In the past year, Swift has tried to make a furious meal of everyone who’s fascinated and frustrated by her, explicitly calling her new album Reputation and making merciless fun of how people have perceived her for years. She’s kept a tight lid on her social media output, deleting years of content. When she appeared on Time’s #MeToo cover for her successful $1 lawsuit against a DJ she said groped her, she gave an abbreviated interview that made it clear she will only say exactly what she wants, when she wants.
In that respect, this March for Our Lives Instagram post falls right in line with Swift’s overall ethos. She said what she wanted, when she wanted to — and made sure the comments on that post had been disabled. But it’s still far more explicit than she tends to be, signaling an urgency that surpasses her own reluctance to speak out.