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TikTok, Twitter, and Platform-Specific Technocultural Discourse in Response to Taylor Swift’s LGBTQ+ Allyship in ‘You Need to Calm Down’
Contemporary Music Review  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-07-16, DOI: 10.1080/07494467.2021.1945225


For most of her career thus far, Taylor Swift’s cultural outputs have remained apolitical, often addressing heteronormative notions of romance, young adult life, and heartbreak. In 2019, Swift broke her politicised silence with ‘You Need to Calm Down’, a track which self-proclaims the artist as an ally to LGBTQ+ communities through her co-option of language historically used to silence marginalised voices, and the inclusion of LGBTQ+-identified celebrities in the accompanying music video. Through a critical technocultural discourse analysis (CTDA) approach, and incorporating digital ethnography, this article examines and compares the multimodal response to ‘You Need to Calm Down’ on TikTok and Twitter. CTDA multimodal analysis is utilised as a method to ascertain both the cultural situatedness of the track, its reception through digital spaces, and also how that reception is connected to the conventions of each platform. Through an analysis of over 20,000 tweets utilising the #YouNeedToCalmDown hashtag, and over 100 TikTok videos based on the track, I examine platform-specific discourse: the de-politicised mimetic creativity of TikTok in comparison to the more hegemonic interpretations found on Twitter. Discussion is organised around three themes of response to ‘You Need to Calm Down’: online communities and ambient affiliations, performative allyship, and cancel culture.