Paste Magazine Publishes Anonymous Review of Taylor Swift's 'The Tortured Poets Department' Amid Fan Threats

Paste Magazine publishes anonymous negative review of Taylor Swift's album, citing threats from passionate "Swifties" fanbase. Highlights challenges of music criticism in an era of online harassment.

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Nitish Verma
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Paste Magazine Publishes Anonymous Review of Taylor Swift's 'The Tortured Poets Department' Amid Fan Threats

Paste Magazine Publishes Anonymous Review of Taylor Swift's 'The Tortured Poets Department' Amid Fan Threats

Paste Magazine has taken the unusual step of publishing an anonymous review of Taylor Swift's latest album, 'The Tortured Poets Department,' citing potential threats from the singer's passionate fanbase. The decision comes after the magazine's 2019 review of Swift's 'Lover' album resulted in the writer receiving threats of violence from readers who disagreed with the critique.

The new review, described as a "scathing takedown" of the Grammy-winning artist's double album, stands as the only "negative" review on Metacritic, with a score of 36. This contrasts with more positive reviews from other publications like Rolling Stone and Variety. "The review was well-written and made good points, even if the score was a little dramatic," an anonymous source familiar with the situation stated.

Paste Magazine's decision to publish the review anonymously was made to protect the safety of its staff, given the intensity of Swift's fanbase, known as "Swifties," and the previous threats received. "Paste decided to publish the new review without a byline to protect the safety of its staff," the source confirmed.

The review was especially critical, asserting that Swift "can't help but infantilize" her fans and criticizing the "irredeemable, relentlessly cringe" lyrics on the album. Shortly after the review was published, a writer who had no involvement with the piece received disparaging messages from Swift's fans who believed she had written it.

Why this matters: The controversy highlights the challenges faced by media outlets in navigating artistic criticism and audience reception, especially when dealing with high-profile artists with passionate fan bases. It raises questions about the role of music criticism in an era where critics may face harassment and doxxing for expressing their opinions.

Despite the mixed reception, 'The Tortured Poets Department' continued to perform well commercially, setting a Spotify streaming record and demonstrating Swift's enduring popularity and influence in the music industry. As one commentator noted, "The response from Swift's fanbase, known as 'Swifties,' has been described as 'insane,' with some users claiming they are 'deranged zealots' who have no interest in dialogue on the critique and only want to 'smite the hands who wrote them.'"

Key Takeaways

  • Paste Magazine published an anonymous negative review of Taylor Swift's album, citing fan threats.
  • The review was the only "negative" one on Metacritic, contrasting with more positive reviews.
  • Paste published the review anonymously to protect its staff from Swift's passionate fanbase.
  • The review criticized Swift's lyrics and her treatment of her fans, leading to backlash.
  • Despite the mixed reception, Swift's album performed well commercially, showcasing her enduring popularity.