Bad Blood: Argentinian Swifties vs the Far Right

Photo courtesy of AP News

Wherever Taylor Swift lands, the ground shakes — quite literally. Her concert caused a 2.3 magnitude earthquake in Seattle. Swifties waited for years for the singer to set foot in South America. Finally, in early 2023, Swift announced her Eras Tour stops in Argentina and Brazil. Days before tickets even became available, Argentinian Swifties were already camping outside River Plate’s Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires.

We Argentinians have made Taylor one of our own. We have prayed to Saint Taylor estampitas (small religious pictures) for concert tickets. We have declared her a fan of Boca Juniors Football Club and the asado (Argentinian barbecue). Taylor took several pauses during her concerts to take in the love the Monumental crowd was giving her. But, more importantly, she’s become a symbol of resistance against the far-right presidential candidate Javier Milei.

Swift’s three concert dates came just a week before the Argentine presidential runoff election between the incumbent Minister of Economy, Sergio Massa, and the man who threatened to blow up the Central Bank, Javier Milei. 

Milei first appeared on our TV screens as a bizarre anarcho-libertarian economist … and a meme. He yelled at panelists to dollarize the economy and vowed revenge on Keynesianism. Then, he bragged about his tantric sex on daytime shows. The economist cloned his dead dog, Conan, 5 times. He showed up uninvited to an anime convention in an insect-like costume as his own invented superhero: the General Anarcho-Capitalist An-Cap. The mythical creature comes from Liberland, “a land of seven square kilometers between Serbia and Croatia where nobody pays taxes … and with no place for collectivists sons of bitches who want to fuck up our lives.”

But the jokes lost their humor when he became a legislator of the city of Buenos Aires in 2021. 

Argentina’s Trump” has vowed to entirely dismantle free healthcare and public education at a time when the country has a 40% poverty rate. El Peluca (“the wig”, referencing his lionesque hair) fiercely opposes abortion, which became legal in Argentina in 2020. Yet, he advocates legalizing the sale of organs and guns. The anarcho-libertarian once pronounced himself in favor of selling babies and children. After all, “it’s a marketplace!” Over 100 economists from around the world signed a letter raising red flags against Milei’s economic plan for the country.

Milei has equated being gay to sleeping with elephants. The economist denies the pay gap between men and women. The presidential candidate is known for his verbal violence, especially against women. His favorite comparison is of the state to “pedophilia” — despite opposing the sex education that helps prevent child sexual abuse. 

Twitter became a platform for music fans to connect, and more importantly, organize. Swift’s fandom knows Milei is trouble. The fandom formed “Swifties Against LLA” (LLA is Milei’s political party) shortly after he was confirmed to be a candidate for the presidential runoffs and the possibility of having an ultra-right president sunk in. 

Milei’s fanbase is mainly young men looking for a system-obliterating rockstar who will “destroy the feminist logic.” In this worldview, there is no place for pop star Taylor, her primarily young female audience, and Argentina’s vanguardist feminist movement.

Buenos Aires’ walls are covered with signs saying, “Swifties don’t vote Milei,” “Massa, the Presidential Tour,” and “Milei is Trump.” Fans distributed Reputation-themed Sergio Massa pamphlets in concert ques. Others wore “Milei No” friendship bracelets. Some Swifties even left some of these bracelets at Eva “Evita” Peron’s grave. Fans wore “We are never ever getting back to Menem” t-shirts, referencing Argentina’s president during the ‘90s who had a similar economic policy to Milei. 

Swifties also have bad blood with Milei’s pick for vice president, Victoria Villaruel. And they are not alone. BTS fans declared Twitter warfare against Villaruel for mocking the K-pop band’s name, calling it “an STD.” 140 character battles aside, the vice presidential candidate is known for defending the military junta convicted of carrying out a genocide in Argentina between 1976 and 1983. The lawyer has campaigned to discredit the atrocities and number of people who were disappeared and killed in Argentina’s bloodiest dictatorship.

108 students were disappeared and killed in my high school alone. Their bodies have never been found.

Furthermore, that is not the only genocide Villaruel defends. She has called the indigenous communities of Argentina “occupiers” and advocated to derogate laws that recognize indigenous sovereignty in parts of the country. 

As the concert dates approached, videos started circulating of a fragment of Swift’s documentary, Miss Americana. Taylor sits on her couch, surrounded by her mom and dad. She is faced with a dilemma: should she speak out against Trump and Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn? Her dad is against the idea of saying anything, but Taylor says: “I need to do this.” The singer emphasizes the importance of being on the right side of history — and that is the message her Argentinian fans are sending to the country. 

It has become hard to survive with Argentina’s triple-digit inflation. The main political figures “dipped.” In the midst of chaos and exhaustion, Milei and Villaruel emerge. On Nov. 19, we will see which institutions will still stand and what our rights will be — especially for women, LGBTQ+ people, and people of color.

Taylor Swift has not commented on Argentina’s elections, but her fans have made it clear to the ultra-right: “We are never ever getting back together, like ever.”

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