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Bad Blood: What Taylor Swift and Scooter Braun’s Dispute Teaches Us About Friendship

Cause baby, now we got bad blood, You know we used to be mad love… Swift fans, known as Swifties, will recognize this line as the chorus to Taylor Swift’s 2014 single, Bad Blood.  What followed that single (besides a sold-out tour with millennials, moms, and a few dads wearing I Heart Taylor t-shirts while holding […]

Cause baby, now we got bad blood, You know we used to be mad love…

Swift fans, known as Swifties, will recognize this line as the chorus to Taylor Swift’s 2014 single, Bad Blood

What followed that single (besides a sold-out tour with millennials, moms, and a few dads wearing I Heart Taylor t-shirts while holding their bedazzled daughters) was the message of this song unfolding into a self-fulfilling prophecy. At least, that certainly seems to be the case in Taylor Swift’s personal and career life. 

For those of you who aren’t up-to-to-date on the latest in pop culture, Taylor Swift’s catalog of music (including all six of her multi-plantinum studio albums) was just acquired by Scooter Braun (manager to superstars like Justin Bieber and Ariane Grande) for a cool $300 million and Swift is nothappy about it. To prove that, she took to the outlet of Tumblr and announced her feelings to the world, launching the would-have-been music industry news into pop headliners.

She writes:

Some fun facts about today’s news: I learned about Scooter Braun’s purchase of my masters as it was announced to the world. All I could think about was the incessant, manipulative bullying I’ve received at his hands for years.

And also: 

Now Scooter has stripped me of my life’s work, that I wasn’t given an opportunity to buy.

Scooter Braun’s wife, Yael, founder of the F*ck Cancer Organization, came out with a come-to-Jesus Instagram post directed at Taylor, reminding her that she had had “the opportunity to buy her masters, and passed,” and also stated that Taylor knew about the sale before the story came out. (Big Machine confirms this here.)

Justin Bieber (yes, the manchild himself) also came out in defense of Braun, pleading with Taylor to see that he was never the bully, and that in reality, Braun has always been a big fan of Taylor’s and a supporter of her life and career. 

But hold the show. In the long run, who really cares about who said this or that? During conflict among friends, what matters is how the problem is handled. How does a mature, healthy individual walk out a complex issue with friends or respected acquaintances? Is it blasting a person’s character via your massive social media platform? Methinks not. 

And here is where the proof is in the pudding, or so they say. While Taylor Swift has been on a journey to reach the pinnacle of significance within pop music, people like Scooter Braun have been working in the trenches to build hard-earned and time-tested relationships. 

Perhaps the difference with Taylor and Scooter is not a matter of gender oppression, but a difference in building and maintaining friendship and, as is apparent, a lack thereof. 

So what makes a friendship tick?

1. Friends Leave Room for Reconciliation 

Okay, sure there are random cases where you will not be able to reconcile with a friend, regardless of how badly you want to (hey, they stole your engagement ring after all and sold it on the dark web) but a true friend always allows the option of reconciliation to be a possibility. 

Unlike Taylor, the Brauns have been reaching out to her and stating their openness in communicating and reconciling. This is proof of their maturity and well, frankly, proof of her lack thereof. 

A source close to the music executive said that Scooter called Taylor after the controversy over the sale of her music catalog erupted.

“Scooter called her but she hasn’t responded to him yet,” the source said.

2. Friends Address Offenses Privately 

…And children blast them publicly. To make yourself look even more bitter and resentful, try publicly assisinating their character. This is what Taylor Swift did when she claimed that Scooter Braun has been manipulating and bullying her for years. 

Okay, Taylor, I get it. Women have been oppressed by men for centuries. But were you actually being oppressed? I could be wrong, but it seems to me that you’ve had a lot of men in your life who have actually helped you succeed. I can only imagine that the Taylor Swift story without Scott Borchetta (whom she has accused of controlling her) would have been a very different story. Hint: no multi-platinum records (all of which were released under his label), no sold-out worldwide tours, no millions of dollars currently sitting in her bank. 

Regardless of the gender issue, however, true friends (and respectible adults) address and resolve matters privately. 

This isn’t just something business moguls practice; it’s part of being a grown-up. 

It’s not okay to blast someone’s character all over your social media and incite your followers to say hateful things to that person and their family, and then refuse to take their phone call. You’re not in high school anymore, Taylor. You’re a role model to millions of girls, and this is not role-model behavior.

Does this seriously even need to be said?

3. Friends Are Loyal (Even When the Going Gets Tough)

When Justin Bieber stood up for Braun, he was only the first of a long line of celebrities who have since come out in support of the manager, including stars such as Demi Lovato and Sia

Contrastingly, while Taylor Swift has defenders who are seeing her side, in her personal life she is rather notorious for dropping her friends, most notably her once-upon-a-time best friend and Vogue cover companion, Karlie Kloss, whose recent wedding she didn’t even attend. The list is long, however, including relationships with her-on-again-off-again friend, Katy Perry, and her ex, Calvin Harris. 

Loyalty is more than a fun Kendrick Lamar song, however. According to Merriam Webster, loyalty is: 

Loyalty (noun) loy·​al·​ty

the quality or state or an instance of being loyal

Implies a faithfulness that is steadfast in the face of any temptation to renounce, desert, or betray. Loyalty is used of a very personal or powerful kind of faithfulness. i.e. I felt great loyalty to my teammates.

www.merriam-webster.com

One thing’s certain about loyal friends: they don’t publicly throw each other under the bus, even after they’ve had a disagreement or falling out. 

Loyal friends respect the other person and even if they have nothing great to say about their friend in a given moment, they say nothing at all, as the old saying goes: 

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

Seems to me like Taylor could learn a lesson or two from an old-fashioned handbook on friendship etiquette.

What’s the moral of the Taylor/Scooter story?

More than a tale of how the music business functions, it is a lesson of how friends should treat each other if they value their friendship.

Because if relationships are the greatest type of wealth we can possess, shouldn’t we aim to treat them with kindness and respect? Shouldn’t we care for them and seek to protect them? Ought we not to remember their value before reacting hastily?

“Friendship is like a glass ornament, once it is broken it can rarely be put back together exactly the same way.” 

Charles Kingley

Taylor Swift, your millions cannot make you rich; only the quality of your relationships. That said, the rest of us would be wise to remember this from now on.

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