a string of references to Swift’s various public beefs — with Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, and so on. If Donald Trump or his political enemies made a video about their Twitter wars, it would look like this.
The crucial lyric is “I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me.” The world is full of snakes. The only way to survive is through combat. (“I got smarter. I got harder in the nick of time.”)
This is a song for a society without social trust. Everybody is vying for fame and dominance. Swift was a former innocent who was perpetually being turned into a victim, but she’s learned her lesson. The only way not to be a victim is to be venomous. “Look what you made me do!” she barks over and over.
.. A person has a soul, which is what Chance is worrying about. A brand has a reputation, which is the title of Swift’s next album. A person has private dignity. A brand is a creation for an audience. “I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams,” is how Swift puts it.
.. The second thing you notice is the difference between sincerity and authenticity. In Lionel Trilling’s old distinction, sincerity is what you shoot for in a trusting society. You try to live honestly and straightforwardly into your social roles and relationships. Authenticity is what you shoot for in a distrustful society. You try to liberate your own personality by rebelling against the world around you, by aggressively fighting againstthe society you find so vicious and corrupt.
.. Back in the 1950s, sincerity seemed treacly and boring, and authenticity, in the form of, say, Johnny Cash, seemed daring and new. But now rebellious authenticity is the familiar corporate success formula, and sincerity, like Chance the Rapper’s, is practically revolutionary.