Pop icon Taylor Swift is now experiencing the wrath of the cultural appropriation police, with fans now claiming her performance at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards on Wednesday was ripped off from Beyoncé.
According to NBC News, people on social media have been comparing Taylor Swift’s performance at the ceremony to that of Beyoncé’s 2018 Coachella festival set.
“Swift opened a debut performance of her new single ‘Me!’ with a marching band dressed in pink. She then appeared on stage, striking a pose,” reports the outlet. “Fans of Beyoncé, who did not attend the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, were quick to speculate whether Swift took inspiration from her April 2018 Coachella set, in which the R&B megastar transformed the stage into a ‘Homecoming’ celebration. Beyoncé was the first black woman to headline the festival.”
Both Beyoncé’s Coachella performance — the subject of a major Netflix documentary — and Swift’s incorporated marching band drummers. Beyoncé says in the documentary, “Homecoming,” that she did this as a salute to HBCUs (historically black college and universities).
“When I decided to do Coachella, instead of me pulling out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella,” she said. “I always dreamed of going to an HBCU. My college was Destiny’s Child. My college was traveling around the world, and life was my teacher.”
People on social media were merciless to Taylor Swift, not even accepting the possibility that the similarities could have just been a coincidence. The hashtag #Mayochella, a play on the nickname to Beyoncé’s Coachella performance, has since been trending on Twitter.
“Stop being daft with this Beyoncé/Taylor drumline thing. Yes, artists have incorporated marching bands/drumlines in performances before but TIMING is everything. The world has been BUZZING since #Homecoming. This ain’t no coincidence,” freelance writer Wanna Thompson wrote on Twitter.
“I don’t know if y’all are seeing this but Taylor Swift is gentrifying Beyonce’s Coachella performance right now,” another Twitter user said.
“Someone kindly tell Taylor Swift, she will never be Beyoncé. Please stop biting… it’s embarrassing,” said another.
Some Taylor Swift fans came to her defense. “I’m not Taylor Swift’s biggest fan by any means, but saying she ripped off Beyonce?? Come on. Talk about a reach. People look for drama,” one Twitter user said.
Of course, Taylor Swift is just another singer to fall victim to the cultural appropriation enforcers, who have put everyone from Justin Timberlake to even Bruno Mars in their crosshairs. In an episode of The Grapevine last year, SJW Seren Sensei said that Mars plays up his racial ambiguity (he’s Filipino, Puerto Rican, and Jewish) so that he can cross genres.
“Bruno Mars 100% is a cultural appropriator. He is not black, at all, and he plays up his racial ambiguity to cross genres,” writer and activist Seren Sensei said. “What Bruno Mars does, is he takes pre-existing work and he just completely, word-for-word recreates it, extrapolates it. He does not create it, he does not improve upon it, he does not make it better. He’s a karaoke singer, he’s a wedding singer, he’s the person you hire to do Michael Jackson and Prince covers.”
Earlier this year, singer/actress Jenifer Lopez endured a wave of heat for performing a Motown tribute at the Emmys.