Taylor Swift Fans Are Sending Death Threats To 'folklore' Reviewers

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With Taylor Swift surprise-releasing her eighth album folklore last week, Swifties are mostly celebrating having 16 new tracks to overanalyse and play on repeat. But a vocal group of stans are currently attacking music journalists online for daring to say the album is anything less than the peak of music.

Reviews are overwhelmingly positive, too: on aggregate site Metacritic, folklore is currently sitting as Swift’s best-reviewed album yet (followed by 2019 album Lover, so clearly reviewers think she’s in her prime).

Music Junkee writer Joseph Earp, in an incredibly positive early review, summed up the reaction to the ‘indie’ album: “For maybe the first time in her career, Swift has dismantled the apparatus of the pop machine that has surrounded her since her debut. And because of that scarcity, not in spite of, she has released one of the best albums of her career.”

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Pitchfork senior editor Jill Mapes didn’t go quite as far in her 8/10 review, which was pretty glowing other than the suggestion the album “could use some selective pruning” and isn’t “tangible proof” that Swift can do “anything” as she claims stans will say.

This has resulted in suggestions that Pitchfork hire ‘actual’ indie music critics to review a Taylor Swift album, as well as a series of ‘hexing’ tweets with satanic images of Swift.

“Anyone who comes after the Dark Queen, Taylor Swift, dies alone and will be burned forever,” reads one tweet in Ethiopian language Amharic. “You will be filled with your dark fears and demons. You will never be happy and sleep well again.”

Mapes has also been directly targeted by stans both on and offline with death threats. As she shared on her now-private Twitter account, she’s received late-night threatening phone calls to her mobile, as well as tweets implying fans know her address.

As a response, stan accounts are now re-framing it as a “grown verified adult accounts” tearing down young fans for “joking around”, and saying Mapes went private because she is struggling to accept she wrote a bad review.

And they're complaining on their timelines about "grown adults dragging stan accounts," acting like they're the victims, not Jill. It's so fucking toxic. pic.twitter.com/arZ8mw23Yh — Abbey Simmons (@abbey_simmons) July 27, 2020
This is the person's @ who gave it 8.0 >> @jumonsmapes she literally went private cause you know her clown act is over and she needs her beauty sleep. https://t.co/3Zy1Pm6oYI

Meanwhile, stans are also very angry at the New York Times for having pop critic Jon Caramanica, who has covered Swift’s career for a decade now, review folklore, clearly “indie alternative”.

“Your credibility is freefalling after this,” writes one, sounding like an articulate Trump. “Please, consider apologizing for this mistake and retiring the article. Thank you.”

Uhmn huns this article is BIASED, written by someone who clearly stated that he’s a pop critic and also gave the lowest rating. I say delete this and the rating before your credibility goes in the gutter

Caramanica’s review is one of the most critical reviews in a major publication, but still is fairly positive: ultimately, he’s critical of the move to ‘indie authenticity’, and believes the sound ‘murks’ and obscures Swift’s songwriting talents. He also spends most of the review contextualising the album’s production within Swift’s career, which, you know, is what critics do.

“The desolate, stubborn, overcomposed indie rock of Folklore, though, is a tough thicket to tame,” he concludes. “Sometimes she triumphs, wrestling it until it’s slack. But when it stifles her, it deserves all the eye rolls it gets.”

That’s more or less his summation and argues that it doesn’t really matter whether or not this gets radio play as the album propels Swift forward in er meta-narrative as an artist, and, given the current state of the world, might not even be toured or given an ‘era’ in the typical Swift form.

This, naturally, has seen Caramanica receive the same threats as Mapes. “If the Metacritic score falls, you’ll be dealt with,” wrote one stan.

To be fair, not all criticism of a review is an attack, and there’s a lot to unpack in Caramanica’s review.

There’s an interesting discussion online as to whether the review’s premised off the sexist idea that her performance of indie aesthetics is more performative than those of her male folklore collaborators, Bon Iver or the National’s Aaron Dessner. But this isn’t what the stans are discussing — or, if they are, it’s only as a weapon.

ከጨለማው ንግሥት ቤለላ በኋላ የሚመጣ ማንኛውም ሰው ለብቻው ይሞታል እናም ለዘላለም ይቃጠላል ፡፡ በጨለማ ፍርሃቶችዎ እና በአጋንንትዎ ይሞላሉ ፡፡ በጭራሽ ደስተኛ አትሆኑም እና እንደገና በደንብ ይተኛሉ። pic.twitter.com/xPKuwnI7pu — saif is a 𝑓𝑜𝑙𝑘𝑤ℎ𝑜𝑟𝑒 (@repsbloodline) July 26, 2020
Well, @taylorswift13 did say that haters are gonna hate hate hate for no reason, and pitchfork and NYT live that life to the t. — norahahaha (@norahahaha) July 27, 2020

The NYT is being overwhelmed with replies to delete the review. Even articles about completely unrelated topics, such as the funeral of civil rights activist John Lewis, are inundated with comments about Taylor Swift.

let's check in on the replies to this tweet from the NYT about the funeral of a civil rights icon pic.twitter.com/2vr4rgqiYx — Dan Ozzi (@danozzi) July 27, 2020

This behaviour is far from unique to Swifites, especially as some musicians use their fanbases against critics (to be clear, Swift hasn’t done this directly, though her discourse of ‘haters’ is an unintentional source of ammunition for fans).

Last year, Ariana Grande, Lizzo and Lana Del Rey all actively used their fanbases to rally against slightly critical reviews, prompting death threats, and BTS fans are well-known for sending threats to journalists whose coverage they disagree with.