Stephane Cardinale - Kevin Mazur-Taylor Hill / GettyImages
Stephane Cardinale - Kevin Mazur-Taylor Hill / GettyImages
The receipts were shown and nothing was the same.
Exactly one year ago an entire nation turned to Snapchat, enraptured. It was like a car accident that wouldn't let you look away, no matter how disturbed you were by the scene—a very dramatic, made-for-the-headlines, feud-fueled car crash. People across the country—nay, the world—gasped and shrieked. They writhed in secondhand embarrassment. They turned immediately to their computers, desperately searching for the perfect GIF to describe the situation. You know the one, where Jon Stewart eats popcorn?
One year ago today was Kim Kardashian's infamous release of the Taylor Swift "Famous" tapes. It started off as a quiet summer Sunday. Alden Ehrenreich was confirmed as the new Han Solo. Steph Curry and Russell Wilson won Kids Choice Sports Awards. Tom Hiddleston was enjoying a quiet weekend in Australia's Gold Coast before heading back to work on the newest Thor installment. And then just as the East Coast was about to head to bed—or, rather, just as the East Coast was finishing up an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians in which Kardashian defended her decision to speak about Swift in the latest issue of GQ—Kim released 79 of the most explosive seconds on social media.
The decision to broadcast Kanye West's recorded (and edited) footage of the conversation with Swift, in which the two discuss lyrics from his song "Famous," sent shock waves through the entertainment industry as a whole. It set off an even deeper level of the feud between the three stars and battle lines were immediately drawn. It may seem like a silly matter to some, but one year later it's clear that things have changed drastically for everyone involved—including us, the innocent bystander.
It's hard to decide which of the three major players has had the most dramatic narrative over the past 52 weeks so let's just start with the most obvious: During the time that she has completely overhauled not only her image but her personal values and her life overall. During the time of Receiptgate, as the incident shall subsequently be referred to, she lived her entire life for the cameras, both professional and iPhone. She broadcast what felt like every second of her day, Snapchatting herself from the moment she woke up to the moment she went to bed, detailing things like what she was eating and what she was wearing and, perhaps most direly, where she was going.
That entire lifestyle came to a halt in October when she was brutally and tragically robbed at gunpoint inside the Paris apartment she was renting. Not surprisingly, it caused the star to retreat from public life to spend time with her family and to recuperate from the emotional trauma. She stayed out of the public eye well through the end of the year, stepping out only for necessary errands and to support Kanye at a few of his Los Angeles concerts, and her social media accounts went dark for three months. When she returned to her accounts she had created an entire new persona.
On Snapchat that meant posting minimally and leaving out the personal (and logistical) details that she used to provide. On Instagram that meant a completely refreshed aesthetic, with an emphasis on nostalgia and a very heavy hand applied to filters. Her fashion was pared down as well, opting for what could be called retro athleisure: simple tank tops, spandex and very little makeup. Even the house that featured prominently in the early posts of her Instagram return seemed barren and stripped of the glamour she came to be famous for: plain walls, empty floors and couches that, quite frankly, wouldn't have seemed out of place in a college dorm common room.
The interviews that Kim has given this past year do more than just hint at the same themes. During visits to Ellen and The View she speaks candidly about how much she is changed, saying things like "I'm such a different person," as she told the legendary comedian. "It was probably no secret, you see it on the show when I was being flashy. Like I was definitely materialistic before—not that there's anything bad with having things and working hard to get those things, and I'm really proud of everyone around me that's successful, but I'm so glad that my kids get this me. And that this is who I'm raising my kids. Because I just don't care about that stuff anymore."
As the one year anniversary of Receiptgate is upon us, Kim's life is more about family than anything else.
Kim's husband was the primary player in the events that led up to Receiptgate—that would be writing and subsequently releasing the line "I made that bitch famous"—yet seemingly took a backseat in the airing of grievances after Swift spoke out about the language used to describe her in the song, about which Swift's rep issued the following statement: "Kanye did not call for approval, but to ask Taylor to release his single ‘Famous' on her Twitter account. She declined and cautioned him about releasing a song with such a strong misogynistic message. Taylor was never made aware of the actual lyric, ‘I made that bitch famous."
He let Kim take care of proving his innocence in any accused lyrical wrongdoing and stayed pretty mum during the digital back-and-forth that went down. But that doesn't mean he was immune from the drastic changes that affected the rest of the group.
In the year since the tapes were released, West has had perhaps the hardest time—perhaps even harder than his robbery victim wife. The first trauma was learning of the robbery, of course. The news came in the middle of a stop on his Saint Pablo Tour and the rapper immediately left the stage to go figure out what happened. He spent the subsequent weeks and months by Kim's side, presumably worrying and stressing the entire time, and it seemed that the ordeal, combined with the long hours of tour life, took quite the toll.
First he cancelled the remaining dates of the Saint Pablo Tour in mid-November and then he checked himself into a Los Angeles area hospital for what a source described at the time as "exhaustion." Over the holiday season he slowly began stepping out again, but has stayed largely out of the spotlight. Much like his wife he tried out a few new looks, debuting bleach blonde hair and even a Frank Ocean-esque green situation. He has deleted both his Twitter and Instagram accounts and has barely been heard from this summer. A source tells E! News that he is "truly a partner" in the surrogacy process he is undergoing with Kim in an attempt to have a third child, so it seems like he'll be marking the one-year point in his own way.
And then, of course, there's Taylor. The star has truly changed the course of history in the year since the tapes were released. First of all, she practically invented current trend of using the Notes app to release your own statements on social media. Immediately following Kim's Snapchats, Swift posted what can only be described as a missive on the topic, concluding with the irreplaceable "I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative."
The statement, in its entirety, read as the following: "Where is the video of Kanye telling me he was going to call me 'that bitch' in the song? It doesn't exist because it never happened. You don't get to control someone's emotional response to being called 'that bitch' in front of the entire world. Of course I wanted to like the song. I wanted to believe Kanye when he told me I would love the song. I wanted us to have a friendly relationship. He promised to play the song for me, but he never did. While I wanted to be supportive of Kanye on the phone call, you cannot 'approve' a song you haven't heard. Being falsely painted as a liar when I was never given the full story or played any part of is character assassination. I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I ever asked to be a part of, since 2009."
Not only did she launch 1,000 memes with her spot-on delivery, but she was the very first in what is now a long list of celebrities who have used the Notes app for their personal messaging. You might even say she, ahem, made it famous.
Unlike the other two players Taylor has had no traumatic experiences this year, no robberies or hospital visits and certainly no brand new Instagram aesthetics. What she's had instead is a full retreat from public life. She has stayed off the stage almost completely, performing only two shows the entire time. Instead of releasing the October album that all of her fans thought was a sure thing she offered up only a track with Zayn Malik on the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack.
And as for her personal life? Well it seems like she's darn near fallen off the face of the Earth. She has stayed so under the radar for so long that we at E! News and her fans alike practically cheer whenever she surfaces. It was revealed this spring that she has been dating British actor Joe Alwyn and that the two have been conducting low key visits to New York and London, among other locales. The relationship comes after her highly-publicized whirlwind romance with Tom Hiddleston, which went public the same day as Kim's aforementioned GQ interview.
Taylor has been refraining from what we had come to know as her favorite activities: She hasn't been spotted on her once-daily gym visits, she hasn't been stepping out for dinner with friends, she hasn't been posting enviable photos of the girl squad on Instagram (she hasn't been posted much of anything, for that matter) and, most shocking of all, this year's Taymerica party failed to materialize. A Fourth of July without Taylor's infamous weekend-long Rhode Island soirée barely feels like a holiday at all, and yet here we all are, living a national waterslide-less nightmare.
When will this nightmare end? It remains to be seen, but we do know that one year ago we never thought we would be here today.