Taylor Swift is TIME magazine’s 2023 Person of the Year and her interview tells a story that centers around redemption. Swift dives into her experience being in the public eye, her battle to own her life's work and what it’s like to be a woman in the music industry.
According to TIME, the Person of the Year award goes to, “the person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year.” Swift certainly fits this criteria.
Swift kicked off her “Eras” tour at the beginning of 2023 and it became the highest-grossing music tour of all time. The demand for her tickets caused Ticketmaster to crash, leading to a Senate Judiciary Meeting to be held on the lack of competition in the ticketing industry. Swift released both “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” and “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” this year, to continue regaining ownership of her music. In its opening weekend, Swift’s concert film raked in $96 million in box office sales.
“It feels like the breakthrough moment of my career, happening at 33,” Swift said. “This is the proudest and happiest I’ve ever felt, and the most creatively fulfilled and free I’ve ever been.” Fans have taken notice of the triumphant year Swift has had and are supportive of TIME magazine’s recognition.
“I think she deserved this recognition, everyone knows who she is, she is on one of the biggest tours ever and she has proven that she is a powerful businesswoman,” said sophomore biology major Cat Wright. “I think it’s inspiring to women to see how someone who started small became such a big success.”
Swift created an economic boom in each city she stopped in. Government officials honored her presence by renaming cities, giving her the keys to the city, and Santa Clara even made her honorary mayor. She created a different type of boom when fans in Seattle caused record-breaking seismic activity from the cheers of excitement and dance moves. They were truly shaking it off.
Journalist at TIME magazine, Sam Lanksy had the major task of writing Swift’s profile and according to Swift, he nailed it.
“Sam Lansky has such a wondrous way with words, and I’ve loved reading his pieces for over a decade. If you’ve ever been around him, you know he’s just the best type of person,” Swift wrote in an Instagram post.
Throughout the article, Swift recalls some of the most defining moments of her career. She starts by telling the story of how she was dropped from the coveted opening slot of Kenny Chesney's tour for being too young. After the tour was sponsored by a beer company, 17-year-old Swift was unable to join. Swift was devastated. A few months later, on her 18th birthday, she received a check from Chesney’s promoter with enough money for Swift to go on her own tour.
“It was for more money than I’d ever seen in my life,” Swift says. “I was able to pay my band bonuses. I was able to pay for my tour buses. I was able to fuel my dreams.”
Swift explains that she has lived most of her life being raised “up and down the flagpole of public opinion.” Swift has been scrutinized for what she says, what she wears, and who she dates. She commented on the scandal with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West saying that at the time she felt it would be the end of her career.
“You have a fully manufactured frame job, in an illegally recorded phone call, which Kim Kardashian edited and then put out to say to everyone that I was a liar,” Swift said “I thought that moment of backlash was going to define me negatively for the rest of my life.”
She recalled the emotions of having the rights to her music taken from her and sold. She felt stuck and defeated. Through the pain, Swift does what she does best and bounces back. Swift negotiated to own her master's rights and began the process of creating “Taylor’s Version.”
“It’s all in how you deal with loss. I respond to extreme pain with defiance,” Swift said.
In the interview Swift name-drops “Barbie” director Greta Gerwig and Beyoncè. The article calls the past summer a “three-part feminine extravaganza.” Both Beyonce’s and Swift’s tour and the “Barbie” movie were massively successful. Swift reflects on the notion that typically feminine interests have been deemed “frivolous”.
“Feminine ideas becoming lucrative means that more female art will get made. It’s extremely heartening,” Swift said.
She has made waves for the feminist movement and inspired women across the world in countless ways. Swift’s accomplishment has been met with support from University of Maryland students.
“I can’t imagine anyone else receiving the honor, 2023 is truly Taylor’s era. And of course, she and Travis Kelce have quickly become America’s favorite couple,” said sophomore architecture major Casey Rolfes. “It seems everyone I know has become a ‘swiftie’ this year and for very good reason”
Swift recently celebrated her 34th birthday on Dec. 13 and is set to resume her “Eras” tour in Tokyo on Feb. 7. Until then, fans can rent her concert film on demand and watch it from home.
Whether you are a “swiftie” or not, Swift’s presence in everyday life has been undeniable this past year. She is on our phones, on television, in our movie theaters, on the radio, and in our city.