Back in January, an old Taylor Swift interview started gaining attention after Emily Ratajkowski reshared a TikTok calling out the sexist nature of the questions Taylor was asked.
The interview clip in question was a 2013 segment from The Ellen Show and shows a young Taylor Swift, whose media narrative at the time centered on the boys she did or did not date, trying to refuse to play a game Ellen DeGeneres has proposed. The “game” requires the singer-songwriter to watch a slideshow of herself with famous men and ring a bell at the sight of a current or former boyfriend.
After polite attempts to mask her discomfort, a clearly flustered Swift says, “I don’t know if I’m gonna do this.” Then, as the photos shuffle on the screen, she remains awkwardly still, not ringing her bell for any of them before eventually shouting at the TV show host to stop the game. The segment itself had begun with DeGeneres referencing the singer’s previous appearance on the show with Zac Efron, calling him “your boyfriend.” “We actually never dated,” Swift says in response. As she tries to change the subject, DeGeneres pivots to her new album, once again asking which of the songs are about Efron.
Years later Swift seemed to refer to this interview—or to others like it—in a conversation with Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s Beats 1. “When I was, like, 23, people were just kind of reducing me to…kind of making slideshows of my dating life and putting people in there that I’d sat next to at a party once,” she says, “And deciding that my songwriting was like a trick rather than a skill and a craft.” It’s no secret that Swift’s most celebrated moments come from her responses to the treatment she received from the public around this time. Though DeGeneres wasn’t the only person making this flavor of joke at Swift at the time, the comparison feels uncanny.
A TikTok user stacked clips of Swift’s Ellen interview with her comments from her interview with Lowe, and the resulting post went viral, earning an acknowledgment of support from model and author Emily Ratajkowski. “This is so fucked up. She’s literally begging her to stop,” Ratajkowski commented in January.
Now EmRata, who says she “recently became a Swiftie,” is still speaking out in support of Swift. “Watching that [interview], I was so struck by how clear she’s being about what is making her uncomfortable,” she told Elle on March 28. “I think the lens that I would’ve viewed that interview from 10 years ago versus now has evolved so much, which is why it struck me. I was in bed falling asleep and commented on it, not because I thought it was going to make headlines at all.”
EmRata continued, saying that Swift is “another example of a woman who has been faced with such blatant misogyny and sexism” but the general public doesn’t want to admit it “because she’s powerful and successful, and also she’s white.”