Taylor Swift’s Rise as a ‘Problematic’ Icon
Screenshot via YouTube
By JORDAN ECARMA
Taylor Swift is known for making really good money writing songs about boys who break her heart. Her latest record debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200 and outsold her previous two hit albums in just 19 weeks. Her autobiographical songs have been so lucrative in an age of piracy and free streaming that Swift herself has been called the music industry—or at least, its platinum-selling savior.
But as Swift’s unique persona (somewhere between all-American sweetheart and badass businesswoman) has exploded in market value, she’s also become fair game for the PC culture crowd. She makes too much money—and she knows how to protect her brand. She has plenty of friends, many of whom also happen to be famous. And (gasp!) once she filmed a video in Africa and donated the proceeds to the charity African Parks Foundation of America.
The PC culture crowd arbitrarily chooses scapegoats. When Swift decided to pull “1989” from Spotify streaming, she was an evil cog in the capitalist machine … somehow Adele didn’t get the same reaction when she made a similar decision with “25.” But then, we’re not all cool enough to earn our own individual hit piece from the one and only Salon.
Here are a few reasons Swift is super problematic:
She believes in #EqualPayforEqualWork
Swift has become a wealthy celebrity scapegoat that represents the “1 percent” as if the fact that successful music artists make hilarious amounts of money is somehow her fault. Mic declared in 2014 that her recently released “1989” was an “amazing” record that you “shouldn’t buy” … because she pulled her music from Spotify’s free streaming service, saying the company doesn’t properly compensate artists for their work.
As Swift wrote in her Wall Street Journal op-ed about the future of music:
Women are encouraged all the time by mainstream feminism to ask for more money … so why shouldn’t Swift know her own value?
In a classic PC culture move, Salon earlier this year played the “privilege” card, publishing what was intended to be a scathing expose of Swift’s “offensive” origin story. Apparently because Swift’s background doesn’t include poverty and prostitution, we’re supposed to value her artistry less. The hit piece is especially puzzling since it doesn’t reveal anything that isn’t basic canon for Swift fans. Yes, Taylor grew up on a Christmas tree farm in Pennsylvania. Yes, she begged her parents to move to Nashville so she could pursue country music. This is somehow new to you?
She loves and supports other women
Swift’s group of friends including Selena Gomez, Lena Dunham and Karlie Kloss has become a #SquadGoals meme … and earned Swift some puzzling vitriol, including being told to ditch her #GirlSquad “to study the immensely productive dynamic of male bonding” by feminist Camille Paglia.
Credit: Taylor Swift via Instagram
Gawker suggested last July that there is “something opportunistic and sinister” about Swift and her friend group, maybe even something “evil.”
From the Gawker piece, which is headlined “Taylor Swift Is Not Your Friend“:
Another Mic piece headlined “The Reason Why Taylor Swift and #SquadGoals Are Totally Disturbing” seems equally unaware that Swift has described her experiences of being bullied in school in cringeworthy detail.
Here’s an anecdote Swift shared in a GQ interview in October:
She tells a story about middle school, when she called several of her peers on the phone and asked if they wanted to go shopping. Every girl had a different excuse for why she couldn’t go. Eventually, Swift’s mother agreed to take her to the local mall. When they arrived, Swift saw all of the girls she had called on the phone, goofing around in Victoria’s Secret. “I just remember my mom looking at me and saying, We’re going to King of Prussia Mall. Which is the big, big mall in Pennsylvania, 45 minutes away. So we left and went to the better mall. My mom let me escape from certain things that were too painful to deal with. And we talked about it the whole ride there, and we had a good time shopping.”
Can anyone blame her for having some good clean celebrity fun with her girlfriends now?
One time she filmed a music video in Africa
Swift got in major SJW hot water when her music video for single “Wildest Dreams” debuted. The video, which features Swift as a brunette actress in Old Hollywood, came under fire because it was filmed at an undisclosed location in Africa. Swift “found herself embroiled in fresh race-related controversy” after the video showing her romance with an actor on a fictional set in mimicry of 1950s classics like “The African Queen.”
According to The Atlantic, Swift should have known that “nostalgia can be inherently political.” NPR stormed, “We are shocked to think that in 2015, Taylor Swift, her record label and her video production group would think it was OK to film a video that presents a glamorous version of the white colonial fantasy of Africa.”
The idea that music artists (or anyone else for that matter) should not film in a particular setting without depicting the most tragic and excruciating parts of that country’s history is patently ridiculous. And if Swift had (somehow) wedged African history into her stylized homage to 1950s Hollywood regardless of context, rest assured there would have been a backlash for that, too.
Swift didn’t dignify these accusations of racism (or Paglia’s strange “Nazi Barbie” comment) with a response.
Haters gonna hate.
Jordan Ecarma is a former journalist now living the millennial dream: getting paid for writing Facebook statuses (that is, digital PR). She watches her use of the f-word (“feminism”) around conservatives and the c-word (“conservatism”) around feminists. Find her under @JordanEcarma.