Taylor Swift ticket trouble could drive political engagement
Some Taylor Swift fans want you to know three things: They’re not 16 yet, they have jobs and resources, and they’re already pissed off. Researchers say this is a powerful political driver.
See what Ticketmaster made them do.
On Tuesday, it began as millions of people pre-ordered Eras Swift’s long-awaited tour, leading to crashes, long waits and frenzied shopping. By Thursday, Ticketmaster had canceled the general sale because there weren’t enough tickets left, angering fans. Swift herself said the ordeal “really pisses her off.”
The ticket manager apologized but the bad blood was already planted. And now fans — and politicians — are starting to act on it.
U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez directed Swiftis to where she could file the U.S. Department of Justice’s complaints. Several state attorneys general — including in Pennsylvania and Tennessee, key states in Swift’s original story — have announced their investigations.
Stephanie Alley, a New York-based expert who has worked on community organizing for progressive politics, has thought for years that grassroots mobilization can be useful for social progress.
“Fandoms are natural organizers,” Swifty, 33, said. “If you find the right issues and activate them and engage them, you can make real change.”
For example, in 2020, K-pop fans organized in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and sought to increase registrations for Donald Trump rallies. Aly and Swifties from various industries—law, PR, cybersecurity, and more—armed themselves to create Vigilante Legal, a group targeting Ticketmaster by creating email templates to sue attorneys general and provide antitrust information. have joined Thousands of people have expressed interest in helping or learning more.
“The level of anger that you’ve just seen in the country about this is staggering,” said Jean Sindak, associate director of the Center on American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “People are really sharing their feelings about it and creating a movement about it online, which I think is really fascinating. It’s certainly an opportunity to get people involved politically. Whether it’s going to last or not remains to be seen. “It’s tough, but it certainly feels like a real opportunity.”
For one thing, it gives Swift’s large following of young people a direct way to see how politics is shaped, Sinzek said. It also targets a demographic that is rarely addressed by politicians during election season.
“Nobody’s going out and thinking, ‘Let’s target young women,'” said Gwen Nisbett, a professor at the University of North Texas who studies the intersection of political participation and pop culture. What about student loans, that age group has been incredibly mobilized and young women have been incredibly mobilized.
The culture of fans and society has strengthened this desire to mobilize. Nisbett was studying parasocial relationships—when fans have strong one-way ties to celebrities—in 2018, when Swift posted endorsements of Democratic candidates on social media when she was already apolitical. Nisbett found that while such posts may not determine fan votes, they still increase the likelihood that fans will seek out more information about voting — and actually vote.
For the record: AP VoteCast, a broad survey of US voters, found that about a third of Tennessee voters in 2018 said they had a favorable opinion of Swift, and among them, a large majority — about 7 in 10 – They supported Democrat Phil Bredesen. In the Senate race this was in stark contrast with nearly a third of voters who had an unfavorable view of Swift and who overwhelmingly supported Republican Marsha Blackburn.
For Swifties, Ticketmaster’s anger isn’t just about a ticket: “It’s the fact that you can’t participate in your community and your fans, and that’s part of who you are.”
This isn’t even the first time a fan or an artist has targeted Ticketmaster. Pearl Jam targeted the company in 1994, though the Justice Department ultimately declined to file a case. Recently, Bruce Springsteen fans were outraged by the platform’s dynamic pricing system for high ticket costs.
It’s not just revenge on the Swifties. “It’s not about getting a million extra tickets from Taylor Swift fans or us all going to a secret meeting,” said Jordan Berger, 28, who is using his legal background to help the cause. “This is about fundamental equality. “And when you have a monopolist like that, it shows the class structure of society where there’s no more equality, there’s no fairness.”
The power and size of Swift’s fan base has sparked a conversation about economic inequality that is only symbolized by Ticketmaster.
Allie noted that a lot of band members got tickets. The issue is bigger than Ticketmaster, he said.
“We got feedback saying, ‘This is too big, let the government handle it.'” Have you seen the American government? The government only works when the people push it and the people demand it work and the people be involved in it.” “Even when something seems too big to fail or too powerful to fail, there are always enough of us to make a difference. Your contribution may be what pushes it over the edge that forces the government to act.” He does, he drives.”
Aly says many adult Swifties have 10 to 15 years of experience being bullied for liking the singer — but what fans have in mind might be better than revenge.
“We’re thick skinned and we don’t really have anything to lose,” Alley said.
Associated Press reporter Hannah Fingerhut contributed to this report from Washington. Brooke Schultz is a staff member based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for the Associated Press/Reporting for America’s State News Initiative. Reporting for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on undercover issues.
This story was originally published November 22, 2022 3:46 AM