ByCorey Van Den Hoogenband, writer at
@CoreyOnline comes from the distant land of Toronto, Canada. He's written nerdy stories for Indie88, The Varsity, and Button Masher Media.
Corey Van Den Hoogenband

Taylor Swift is trying her darnedest these days to shed her old reputation and innovate, but it seems her recent video might not be as original as it seems. At least, not if the allegations that Taylor Swift and Ticketmaster ripped off the art of an indie video game are true.

Night In The Woods is a critically acclaimed, crowd-funded indie title that uses cute, anthropomorphic animals to tell a surprisingly melancholy story about young adulthood, depression, friendships and homecoming. The game stars Mae, an adorable cartoon cat and recent college dropout. You can see her here, in all her relatable glory:

'Night in the Woods' [Credit: Finji]
'Night in the Woods' [Credit: Finji]

Now have a look at the video advertisement for "Taylor Swift Tix," the business collaboration between Ticketmaster and the pop singer that essentially lets Swift fans beat the scalpers by queuing up through posting on social media or purchasing merch (a questionable topic for another day). The ad features, let's say, familiar looking cartoon animals:

Here's one frame featuring a cartoon cat that looks suspiciously like Mae:

Is that Mae second to the left?! [Credit: Taylor Swift via YouTube]
Is that Mae second to the left?! [Credit: Taylor Swift via YouTube]

Notice the similarities? You wouldn't be the only one. In fact, Night in the Woods' co-creator Scott Benson publicly called out the advertisement over Twitter as being what he considers a blatant rip-off of the game's art style and characters. Benson wrote:

Benson also jokingly confirmed in an earlier tweet that the commercial is "not canon" to Night in the Woods, despite the Mae lookalike:

Look What You Made Taylor Do

While it's entirely possible these stylistic similarities were coincidental, Night in the Woods is so visually unique (not to mention recently released), that it's difficult not to suspect some funny business. After all, this isn't the first time Taylor Swift has been accused of ripping off smaller artists' work. Back in 2014 Swift re-purposed and posted a fox painting that visual artist Ally Burguieres created.

The worst part is for a long time Swift has been viewed as a champion of ensuring that artists get the credit and compensation they deserve. In 2014, Taylor waged war with Apple Music to ensure artists like herself were paid their royalty shares during the streaming service's three month trial period.

But based on what's happened with Night in the Woods, defending the artist isn't a priority for Swift when the art isn't very well known. Now it's worth noting Swift herself was not the video's art director and probably at most simply gave the commercial her approval. Still, it means someone on her team was "inspired" by the game and neglected to acknowledge that. One would hope the culture surrounding Swift would be all for crediting artists.

It isn't all "Bad Blood" between Swift and Benson, however. Scott Benson and the development team on Night in the Woods aren't pursuing any legal action and seem to be treating the whole incident as a funny, albeit messed-up, story.

Do you think Taylor Swift and co. knew about Night in the Woods or are the similarities a coincidence?

(Sources: Rolling Stone, Mic)


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