This is just a trigger warning for any #Swifties who may be reading, this is not a post defending Taylor Swift from the big bad media. It’s just telling them that they’re doing it wrong…
Trent Reznor (the Nine Inch Nails frontman) was recently interviewed by the New York Times, in which he criticised Taylor Swift for not calling out Donald Trump.
Reznor was quoted saying;
“You don’t hear a lot from the Taylor Swifts of the world, and top-tier, needle-moving cultural youth because they are concerned about their brand, their demographic and their success and career and whatnot.”
Taylor Swift’s view on politics is as widely publicised as Lennon’s abuse against women – Eg. Not at all. The closest she’s got to making an explicit political statement, was her recent donation to March for Our Lives – the charity lobbying for tighter gun control in the US.
Reznor’s point stands especially proud in a political climate, where so many voices are silenced by those in power. So what we’re going to do is see how Swift is currently reported on in the media, then make a few suggestions as to how she should be criticised in the media.
Leave Swifty Alone
In this interview with NME, Swift addresses the media’s perception of her; how they paint a caricature which is completely inaccurate or true to herself.
It seems that most of the flak she receives is due to her apparent serial monogamy. Tabloids and gossip sites gleefully purport Taylor to be someone who can’t hold down a relationship. Or that she straight up promotes misandry in her songs, which is absolutely ridiculous.
The other main criticism is that she’s some sort of crazy woman who’s expressing her ‘feelings’?! Ewww, not a woman telling us about the fact she actually has ‘emotions’. God forbid a female is anything but demure and mute. Outlets routinely suggest that Swift profits from blatant misandry in her songs, and that her career is paved on a foundation of man-hating.
These are both bullshit points. Taylor Swift is making pop music just like the rest of them. Pop music’s main content is love, relationships & heartache. It needs to be relatable to a mass market, and what unites us all together? We all have feelings.
If it’s strange to you that a pop star like Swift has written songs about relationships, then you’re in for a larger shock than John Coffey. If you don’t like the pop manufactured music, don’t listen to it. (Alternatively, write a weekly post about it to vent your frustrations called Cynically Sound).
Don’t Shake It Off
So why should these criticisms be deemed as damaging? Surprisingly enough, it’s not because of Taylor’s emotional welfare…
Well for one, ask yourself why it’s being reported on in the first place. This celebrity worshipping culture we live in, creates a microscopic lens in which people are consumed by who is dating who. Once this ‘news’ breaks, it’s lapped up in a furious whirlwind of moronic tweets that diverts attention away from issues that actually matter.
In the interview with NME, Swift complains that “there’s always like, a unanimous verdict of like, that’s annoying about her”. Which is a fair point. Tabloids have reached maximum density with how many times they can make the same boring argument about her music. So to freshen things up, here are some actual issues with Taylor Swift that aren’t reported on.
Look What You Made Me Do
Concentrating on trivial aspects of her life is a dangerous precedent to set. Swift does need to have pressure placed on her, but not in regards to how many men she dates. Considering the majority of her fans are teenage girls, she has a large influence on the mindset that these young women grow into.
If someone as powerful and wealthy as Swift stays as a silent bystander, the message she is sending to those girls is that no matter how powerful you become – it’s still better to stay silent and protect your image.
Let’s frame it differently: she can both afford to stay silent and speak up. What’s meant by this?
Well, she can afford to stay silent because Trump’s actions have no direct impact on her life. If anything, she’ll benefit from the tax breaks. She’s afforded the luxury to distance herself from political arguments, as there aren’t any ICE officers knocking down her door. Even if they did catch her, being deported back to a massive family farm in Pennsylvania to live with your stock broker father and financier mother is hardly a dire situation to be in.
From a financial sense, she can afford to speak up. An argument often put forward, is that it’s career suicide to align yourself with a particular political party. Consumers hold the key to success, and with politics being so divisive, sales are likely to drop following a political stand. However, morality should win out – every time. As Reznor states; she’s too concerned ‘with [her] brand, [her] demographic, [her] success,’ to ever speak up.
One artist who has taken the plunge into supposed ‘career suicide’ is Eminem. After publicly criticising Trump on “The Storm”, he makes it perfectly clear:
“And any fan of mine who’s a supporter of his
I’m drawing in the sand a line, you’re either for or against
And if you can’t decide who you like more and you’re split
On who you should stand beside, I’ll do it for you with this:
Eminem purposely alienated a large portion of his fan base. Why? To take a stand against somebody he believed to be morally corrupt. Take notes Swift, it can be done.
Now We’ve Got Bad Blood
Whether you like her or not, it’s undeniable that Taylor Swift is an incredibly powerful woman with an enormous platform. Her influence is prevalent throughout the lives of teenage girls. They identify with not only her music – but what it is to be a woman in modern day America.
To bring this full circle, let’s end with a poignant quote from Desmond Tutu;
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”