It’s hard to imagine it now, but we once took Kanye West’s bullshit for granted. “Oh,” we told ourselves smugly, cocooned within the paper-thin walls of our hubris, “An endless stream of meaningless and distracting nonsense to briefly care about and then forget? Who could possibly need that, in the year of our lord two thousand and nineteen?” But now the worm has turned, and the thought of having a 24/7 stream of Kanye getting mad because no one respects his ugly-ass clothing line feels like a sorely missed balm in Gilead. Luckily, the internet provideth today, in the form of a leaked full video and transcript of the infamous “Famous” conversation West had with Taylor Swift back in 2016, revealing that Swift was, not surprisingly, not the person being the asshole in this particular conflict.
But first, a brief primer, for those of you who have managed to delete this particular clash of the titans from the drama repository nestled deep within your souls. In 2016, West released a song titled “Famous,” which included the line “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that bitch famous”—a reference to that time West infamously upstaged a 20-year-old Swift at the VMAs, and also to Kanye West’s desire to have sex with people he does not seem to personally like. When Swift raised some objections to the lyrics—to say nothing of the song’s video, which featured a nude wax figure patterned on her—West’s wife Kim Kardashian posted clips of a phone conversation that seemed to show Swift giving her approval for the song. Such are the controversies from which 8 million hastily dashed-off snake emojis born.
Except that watching the actual, full video—and it’s not clear how, exactly, it ended up online, although it appears genuine enough—makes it clear, per Buzzfeed, that this was less two super-famous pranksters pulling one on the normies, and more a woman trying to make nice with the weird and powerful man who keeps barging into her life suddenly every couple of years. Among other things, it makes it apparent that West was requesting that Swift release his video on her personal Twitter account—an idea she’s clearly uncomfortable with—and that he never ran the line where he refers to her as “that bitch” past her. (In interviews about the still-going fallout from this incident, which heavily influenced her 2017 album Reputation, Swift has made it clear that that was the part that upset her the most.) More to the point, there’s a palpable sense of relief from Swift that West is actually being nice to her for once, after forcibly hijacking the narrative of her life for so many years, to the point that she was happy to sign off on any lines that didn’t include actual derogatory remarks about her.
And look: Is any of this drama really important, especially in light of everything that’s going on in the world right now? Of course not—and that’s the point. For one brief moment, Taylor Swift and her fans are victorious, Kanye West is a dick, and all is right with the world. Let’s bask in the reflected light of this warm and welcoming garbage fire, before being forced to face the harsh cruel light of day all over again.