Ed.Note July 2012: This post was composed in February of 2010 in response to The Grammys during a time when I was a serious Lady Gaga fanatic. I remain a Gaga fan but am honestly kinda embarrassed by the unbridled Gaga fanaticism expressed in this post. In lieu of retro-editing the post, I encourage you to see the few statements about Gaga contained herein in the context of that time and not let those statements distract you from the rest of the post. Obviously Taylor Swift herself has changed since then and will continue to, so just you know, appreciate this for the little time capsule it is.
Yesterday, looking for Daily Fix links, I came upon an MTV news piece by James Montgomery titled “Why You Shouldn’t Hate On Taylor Swift.” Fair enough — the hype cycle moves quickly these days and now is probably the opportune moment for someone to step up and captain the “backlash-to-the-backlash” train. But his argument is so off point I wondered if he’d picked this topic or if the unprovable thesis had been assigned to him. Because it’s a difficult point to prove.
For starters, no one has been “hating on Taylor” — as I understand it, they’ve been hating on Taylor Swift the Product and, as of late, her accumulation of Important Awards. See, there’s nothing to hate about Taylor Swift the human. She’s nice and honest, she’s pumped much-needed cash into the music industry, she looks cute in glasses and she’s friends with Our Heroine Ellen DeGeneres.
There wasn’t even anything to “hate” about Taylor Swift’s twangy addictive pop/country music until she snagged Album of the Year, thus transitioning her from “harmlessly popular teenage pop fad” into the (relatively) Legendary-for-artistic-merit context associated with prior winners like John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Lauryn Hill, U2, Outkast and Eric Clapton.
Furthermore, relative to the oft-criticized oversexed young ladies of pop music, the Great Proverbial Mothers of America agree that they’d like their babies to grow up to be cowgirls, as long as that cowgirl is as effortlessly adorable and endearingly successful as Taylor Swift. And well; from a distance, that idea seemed fine to me too. If you’re one of those mothers who insist on conservative role models who compose girl-bashing boy-crazy rain-soaked anthems and you value a starlette’s “purity” over intelligence or even raw singing talent, then fine; better Taylor than Bristol Palin or G-d forbid, her mother. More on that in a minute.
The article claims this “hating” on Taylor is another nasty result of the internet’s “secure blanket of anonymity” — that people hate on Taylor because they can. That’s silly, ’cause the “hating” he describes comes from identified Facebook users and identified journalists. So, moving on.
His other primary theory for why everyone “suddenly” is “hating” on Taylor is that post-#kanyeshrug, Taylor earned “bona fide mainstream celebrity” status which made her vulnerable to corresponding widespread attack and criticism. That’s untrue as well: most of these so-called “haters” either never liked Taylor or didn’t know of her ’til she won the award that their favorite musician lost. They’re not “hating” on Taylor simply because generalized “celebrity-hating” is a sport.
Where do my negative feelings towards her fit in? I didn’t know much about her ’til the VMAs, when right after learning who That Girl was, she beat Kelly Clarkson, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga for “video of the year” and I yelled [a bit drunk, I admit] “WHAT THE FUCK? GAGA? BEYONCE? ANYONE?” at the teevee, and, as if on cue, Hennessey-shitfaced Kanye popped up on stage to speak my mind and consequently kill his reputation.
Unsurprisingly 75% of the commenters on the MTV piece disagree with Montgomery’s case on all counts, particularly his dismissive “So what if Taylor had an off performance?,” since Taylor always has an off performance. In fact, MTV found the dueling commentary on the article so interesting that they made an article out of the comments before I even finished writing this one.
Yes, this gigantic essay began as a comment for that MTV article. I had feelings. They were getting too long for a blog comment. I decided to take said feelings to a Daily Fix. Then I hesitated.
See, I don’t like dwelling in negativity, nor do I enjoy vilifying anyone besides politicians & Ilene Chaiken. In fact, I prefer writing to endorse redemption of popular villains, such as Tila Tequila and Jenny Schecter.
“…Her entitlement to a blatantly untrue ‘fairy tale’ narrative tastes disingenuous and cheap.”
But I can’t seem to let go of this Taylor Swift thing, and though the comparison is extreme, she irritates me much like John McCain irritated me for most of 2008… or, more accurately, how Avril Lavigne‘s faux-“punk” abstinence anthem “Don’t Tell Me” irritates me or yes, how the Twilight franchise occasionally irritates me (though I’ve seen the first movie now, and I admit it does look cool).
I’ve already shared some of my qualms with you: that I feel her win represents a sinister endorsement of mediocrity/Wonderbread, that it means Digestible beat Daring and I prefer daring, that I’m irked by her consistent inability to recognize more deserving nominees in her acceptance speeches, and that her entitlement to a blatantly untrue ‘fairy tale’ narrative tastes disingenuous and cheap.
But, even after writing that, I felt guilty for having such antagonistic feelings about Taylor Swift the Image when Taylor Swift the Person is, obviously, a good human being.
However, before I brought it up again (especially this late, as the backlash-to-the-backlash part is over and we’re now in the Valley of WhoCares, which is clearly where I “thrive”), I knew I had to do my Taylor Swift due diligence. After reading that MTV article I did it: I listened to her music, read her blog, and watched her videos.
And I finally figured it out.
Taylor Swift is a feminist’s nightmare.
The rush to exalt Swift is (I believe) a desperate attempt to infuse our allegedly apocalypse-bound country with a palatable conservative ideology in the form of a complacent, repressed feminine ideal. It’s working ’cause Swift writes good songs and America is terrified that its children have been scarred by Britney Spears’s psychotic vagina and Miley Cyrus’s obnoxious adolescence.
“The Grammy voters chose someone who, according to her lyrics, has spent her entire life waiting for phone calls and dreaming about horses and sunsets.”
Rather than choosing an established/evolved talent (Beyoncé) or a fresh potential revolutionary (Lady Gaga), the Grammys chose someone who, according to her lyrics, has spent her entire life waiting for phone calls and dreaming about horses and sunsets.
Though the debate over her performance skills is a well-beaten horse at this point, her unequivocal worthiness as a role model for girls has been accepted complacently; at least within my limited purview.
Listen up; if I ever get my life together enough to reproduce other life forms, they will not be joining Taylor Nation — they will be brave, creative, inventive, envelope-pushing little monsters who will find a pretty, skinny white blonde girl in a white peasant shirt strolling through nature-themed screensaver-esque fantasylands singing about how “when you’re fifteen and somebody tells you they love you, you’re gonna believe them” not only sappy, but also insulting to their inevitable brilliance.
I don’t want my unborn grandchildren to listen to the story of how Taylor Swift won a Grammy she hadn’t earned. I want them to set pianos on fire.
1. Age is Just a Number
First, let’s address the age issue; as Swift is often celebrated as some kind of child prodigy. Twenty isn’t young and her talent, while exceptional, is not unheard of. Grammys have gone to Adele (21), Christina Aguilera (20 in ’00), LeAnn Rimes (16 in ’97), Mariah Carey (21 in ’90) and Alicia Keys (20 in ’02), among others. Until there’s evidence Swift can sing live, she’s not uniquely qualified as a musician.
Why does Swift seem, at 20, a decade younger than Lady Gaga? ‘Cause Swift’s package is “Purity Sue Ingenue”: eternally childlike, obedient and one-dimensional. Mothers love this package, and teenage girls are hypnotized by her simple songs and pretty hair and propensity for crying on her instruments.
Listen up! When Beyoncè was Swift’s age, she was onstage with Destiny’s Child, proclaiming: “The house I live in / I’ve bought it / The car I’m driving / I’ve bought it / All the women who are independent / Throw your hands up at me!”
It goes without saying — because, of course, no one wants to say it — that Swift was able to succeed so early ’cause her family was both supportive & wealthy enough to enable her ambitions. Swift had dreams, she chased ’em, and she got ’em; all before puberty! That’s not a Cinderella story, that’s more or less the most awesome childhood of all time.
“Why does Swift seem, at 20, a decade younger than 23-year-old Lady Gaga? ‘Cause Taylor is the ingenue: eternally childlike, obedient and one-dimensional.”
So let’s stop judging her work on children’s terms and excusing that giggly self-absorption as a folly of youth. It’s annoying.
Never was this bunnyrabbitchild persona more exploited than it was after the VMAs. If Kanye had snatched that mike from Lady Gaga, she would’ve snatched it right back, called Kanye an asshole (he is), admitted he was right (he was), and the whole thing would’ve been done and DONE. She certainly wouldn’t have needed — or wanted — the entire country’s fawning faux-sympathy for months afterward.
Taylor had another chance at the VMA’s end to prove her maturity by thanking and honoring Beyoncé for calling her back up to speak. But no, she was just like, “A’ight my turn!”
Role models aren’t suspended children, trapped by projections and unable to grow until affirmed by an idealized male partner. Role models grow and change and challenge themselves and are rewarded for exceptionalism, not potential. Independently.
2. Yes, she writes her own songs (sorta). And it Shows.
Swift’s songwriting is as thematically ambitious as a 15-year-old’s LiveJournal, which is to say, like a 15-year-old’s LiveJournal, it never strives for thematic weight or challenges ideas not already covered by Sweet Valley High or The Children’s Illustrated Bible.
If Swift’s work connects with teenage girls, it does so on the most simplistic, reductive territory of all: pining for boys, walking in the rain, kissing in the rain, crying drops of tears on her guitar, driving in trucks with cool boys, wanting boys she can’t have, more rain, more letter-writing, more stalking, more broken hearts, breathing problems as a side-effect of broken hearts, fairytale princess this, white horse that, more pining at the window, more psuedo-stalking, more incomplete hearts yearning for your touch, and one song that misinterprets Shakespeare and The Scarlet Letter so criminally I’m certain she’s never read either.
Swift simply hasn’t had the life experience and doesn’t inherently possess the emotional maturity to create great art. Which is fine — most young pop stars don’t, which is why they don’t win Grammys.
We’ve decided to break this down for you with a special Autostraddle infographic:
Not only are her songwriting choices almost mind-numbingly safe, but she also covers territory so familiar, it’s almost a carbon-copy of someone else’s song!
Not only are these songwriting choices almost mind-numbingly safe, but they also cover territory so familiar, it’s almost a carbon-copy of someone else’s song!
In 2006’s “Girl Next Door,” by Saving Jane, the protagonist yearns:
She is the prom queen I’m in the marching band
She is a cheerleader I’m sitting in the stands
This sounds familiar, right?Well, here’s Taylor’s version:
But she wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts
She’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers
Interesting. Now check out the music video for “Girl Next Door”:
Just to refresh, here’s Swift’s version:
With almost frame-by-frame precision, Taylor Swift’s most popular music video is not only exactly like dozens of 80s and 90s teen flicks (which are basically remakes of 19th century romantic fiction & Shakespearean allegories), but it’s also exactly like the music video for “Girl Next Door.”
This happens a lot. For example; “A Place in this World” = one part “What It Feels Like For a Girl” (Madonna), one part “Just a Girl” (Gwen Stefani), one part “Not A Girl, Not Yet a Woman” (Britney Spears), and one part Donna Martin poem.
3. Glasses don’t Make You a Freak, Taylor Swift!
Swift’s insistence on casting herself as the outcast or the proverbial “girl in the bleachers” while prettier girls date her crush objects is really silly. Her standard-issue prettiness conforms to a hegemonic Caucasian beauty standard and she’s selling her fans short to claim otherwise; they’ll likely find that the doors that opened for Swift will never open for them, even if they relate to her lyrics.
Perhaps the only legitimately irritating aspect of Taylor the Human is her continually presenting the experience of being teased in middle school for liking country music as a legit tragic impetus. Taylor Fucking Swift! Put on a Rachel Berry smile and get yer sh*t together, we were all bullied in middle school!
Even when Swift’s songs cast her as the outcast, the freakiest she can get is putting on a pair of glasses and a t-shirt which has apparently been signed by all of her non-existent friends.
Taylor, look at Lady Gaga in that bathtub and tell me that you’re the one in the bleachers:
Oh also, they did the glasses trick in “Girl Next Door” video too:
Here’s the rub: actual freaks make really awesome music. It’s edgy and complicated and it comes from a yearning, desperate, mixed-up place where pain and happiness have existed in equal parts for almost entire lifetimes. It’s not safe or sexless — it’s ugly, hopeful danger.
4. High School Hop
Her lyrics are praised for authenticity, but to whom? Their flat, archaic view of high school is likely a result of Swift not attending too much high school.
In fact, Swift left regular school at 15 and was then home-schooled via Tennessee-based Christian home-schooling network Aaron Academy. The Academy’s rules are based on The Bible’s rules. The Academy teaches Creationism. Here’s one of their favorite websites: Creation Science.
Aaron Academy parents & teachers are also encouraged to visit the “Family Research Council” for its “excellent articles advocating traditional family values.” Today’s topics include “The Sexualization of our Armed Forces” and “New Study Shows Abstinence Education is Most Effective.”
This survival-of-the-fittest entitlement perhaps explains her lack of humility despite an otherwise charming personality.
5. The Boy-Crazy Girl-Bashing Virgin: My Least Favorite Kind of Person
“Taylor wants to help adolescent girls everywhere feel better about themselves”
-Rolling Stone, The Very Pink, Very Perfect Life of Taylor Swift
Furthermore, Swift’s lyrical message to teenage girls is clear: BOYS. That’s it. Just boys. Crying over boys and feeling broken and/or completed by boys.
In fact, Swift loves boys at the exclusion of just about everything else, including other girls. Other girls are obstacles; undeserving enemies who steal Taylor’s soulmates with their bewitching good looks and sexual availability. Unfortunately for these mute yet effortlessly hunky jungle-eyed boys, by choosing the “beautiful” girls over Taylor (who is, suspiciously… also beautiful…), they’re missing out on Taylor’s unique understanding of their heart/inner fireball/angelic rainshower/sweet glory of Jesus. “All those other girls are beautiful,” Taylor pines, “But would they write a song for you?”
This is perhaps her music’s most grating sin: the sex-shaming girl-bashing passed off as outsider insecurity. Boys are angels lit from within with cool hair, fast cars, and eyes that often resemble light sources (stars, sunbeams, etc). These boys never grow beyond metaphor into humanity. If they did, we might have to confront the very idea that Taylor Swift’s entire career is designed to destroy: that teenagers want to have sex. And that wanting is confusing.
Certainly, she’s among a handful of teenage pop stars who truly practices what she preaches. Taylor’s behavior & imagery is just as wholesome as the apple pie her fans dream of baking for their own Jonas Brother-esque boyfriend. She doesn’t peddle paradoxical mixed messages about sex like the previous generation of teenaged pop stars.
I mean, she’s pretty clear in “Fifteen” — really the only song where Taylor has an actual female friend — that “Abigail gave everything she had to a boy, who changed his mind, and we both cried.”
I’ll spare you the time of listening to the song and watching the video and give it to you straight: Abigail had sex with a boy, and later they broke up. That’s right. No marriage. She gave him all she had.
That’s right. All Abigail had was her hymen.
Songs like “Fifteen” dig up the ancient Puritan ideal that girls can only access power by confidently and heterosexually denying access to their pants.
But there’s power in owning desire too, and even more power in owning that responsibly (especially when you’re young). At her age, my friends and I were having safe sex, listening to Ani DiFranco & Destiny’s Child & Lauryn Hill & The Magnetic Fields & George Michael and um *cough* Britney Spears and so far it seems none of us lost “all we had.”
See, teenagers do think about sex and that’s part of what makes adolescence so fucking wretched but also hopelessly authentic. Revisiting that paradox as an adult can make great art. It’s not about slut shaming, exalting resistance, extending childhood or demonizing desire — it’s about powerfully wanting things that are REAL.
[ETA: I’m not saying all teenagers should have sex, or that being sexually active is better for kids than abstinence. That’s ridiculous. I’m just saying the wanting is real. Acting on the wanting is a whole different story — but Taylor is promoting denial of both, whereas I suggest if there is any denial at all, it should be in your actions, not in your desires.]
And I think that mature female-empowered desire has never been so present in pop music as it is right now, and many of those women were there on Sunday. [Sidenote: I could write a whole new essay about what Adam Lambert is bringing to the table right now for male sexuality, but I already have/this is already too long.]
The ironic thing is, I think pop music is past the stuff Taylor Swift is a reaction to. We’re not really being subjected to the hypocritical virgin/madonna antics of Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton, Mandy Moore, and their ilk peddling Lolita-Sex for sex’s sake but disguised in pastels.
Instead, awards shows this year featured gifted, evolving pop performers like Pink, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Rihanna and Janet Jackson; women who are more than hymens or fairy tales. Women for whom sex isn’t something you just throw into the crowd like candy — it’s something strong and eternal and tenacious and often quite inspiring.
Let’s bring it back to the lady I think should’ve won: Lady Gaga is vicious hungry sex in hellfire. She’s more theatrical than Broadway and every night she sings in romantic open fists. Lady Gaga opens her dress, extracts her gut, assembles it in shapes splashed in sinister glitter and then shatters her dangerous violent diamonds onto the piano and screams FIRE and it sounds like bad romance. She wants your ugly, she wants your disease, and she’s everything Taylor Swift will never be. Punks don’t win awards, they eat awards.
And so that’s what I hope for my hypothetical unborn children, whether it’s from Gaga or another powerhouse female who owns it on stage: pop music that shuns tired Dawson Leary cliché in favor of your drama, disease, love, revenge, and (when you’re ready) your dangerous ambisexual kiss in the motherfucking sand.
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I really, seriously enjoyed this.
This is a very thorough analysis. You have obviously spent a great deal of time on this subject, and most of it IS clever, humorous, and right-on. I can’t help perhaps thinking that this kind of detailed criticism belongs on more worthwhile topics? Such as issues that affect people and the world far more than engaging tunes. I know music is amazing and life would not be life without music, but seriously, analyzing music stars/starlets to this extent is just not IMHO worthwhile.
1) No little girl/teenager/adult who is in love with Taylor Swift and her songs will take it seriously. No amount of criticism will cause a true fan to suddenly dislike her based off a blog or any number of articles on the internet.
2) You talk about how Taylor Swift’s ideas are unoriginal…however, I would say that most songs are talking about, implying, or tip-toeing around the same thing…sex/romantic relationships…nothing wrong with that at all…but you shouldn’t call Taylor Swift unoriginal if you are going to call Beyonce, Rihanna, Janet Jackson, Lady Gaga original…they each come up with different approaches to similar (if not the same) subject but in creative ways, as Taylor Swift has done. So, I’m not quite convinced about Swift’s lack of originality compared to these other so-called “original” singers……..
3) I don’t see anything wrong with being “conservative” or “promoting abstinence”…I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to realize the message behind her songs…I don’t believe her songs need to be analyzed to death…they ARE pretty simple…I would say that’s the beauty of her songs…that people CAN relate easily, BECAUSE they are common experiences, doesn’t MATTER if she hasn’t experienced it herself, someone HAS…and doesn’t MATTER if the outcome is unlikely to happen as it has in her music videos…it is just some form of child-like faith (like with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, etc.) that the future is bright and people have reason to think optimistically…plus it’s FANTASY, what many people love, take for example the popularity of Harry Potter, Twilight, Lord of the Rings, etc. NOTHING wrong with fantasy…just a means of entertainment, getting away from the pressure (or lack thereof in many cases) of the real world…
4) There’s nothing funny or acceptable about what Kanye did…it was just bad form…I know it’s a great thought to imagine people you don’t like much (for whatever reason) getting humiliated…but actually putting it into action against something as meaningless as winning an award is just bad form and isn’t as cool as you would think…(this is also in response to your comment about grandchildren)
5) Finally, the media is going to present celebrities in any way they want…in good light or bad…false light or true…can’t really do much about that (Freedom of the Press), so Taylor Swift’s response to success is not really relevant…so what, her parents/family got her where she is today…she was lucky to get there, and being jealous that she could reach success, is your own business, of course, but IMHO, not worthwhile.
Just thought I would give some of my reasons for distaste of the article as a whole (not you as a person, hahaha) but just to the overall impression I got from it…
Good job, very thorough analysis, but perhaps you should put your analytical talents to greater good…like solving world peace or improving the economy…something lasting and will impact everyone…not just pop music lovers =)
you hit the nail on the head:)
Hey Valerie! Thanks for assuming that this is the only thing I’ve ever written and the only subject I’ve ever analyzed! You are SO RIGHT. Why did I waste the only 3,000 words I’ve ever written on Taylor Swift? God. I waited ALL MY LIFE to come up with more than one word to say about something, and I went and wasted it. Shit, I’m gonna go cut myself, or starve myself, or sleep with a bunch of people, or do sketchy shit for money… no wait, I’ve already done that. I think I wrote about it… it’s so hard to remember, what with my one-track mind and all.
I should expand! Perhaps you would enjoy some of my other work, like my analysis of the gay community’s divided response to Obama’s HRC speech? Did you like that one? I dunno, I also wrote a piece about Maine repealing gay marriage, and how even at her 22-year-old cousin’s funeral my girlfriend’s family found a way to make us feel bad about being gay … did you catch that one? No? DANG! Actually, I run this website! Almost every day I write about a LOT of things — coming out, gay families, DADT, transphobia, hate crimes, eating disorders, and so forth. If you read my bio… wait for it… this isn’t even the only place I’ve written words! Yup, that’s right! I’ve written for other magazines, websites, and even IN BOOKS! I also went to college, which was awesome. So much writing there.
And if you check out my personal blog, I spent three years writing about subjects including mental illness, agoraphobia, drug abuse, racism, how to deal with the death of a parent when you’re really young, abusive relationships, this business of art, city life, boarding school, having a lesbo Mom, self-esteem, confidence … (The L Word obvi) … and you know, other stuff, like FRIENDSHIP! AND LOVE! AND HOPE! and the future!
I’d link you to all that stuff, but surely you’ve read it before spending all this time reading my article and responding to it all detailed in numbers and stuff, right? I mean, that would be SO ignorant, to just come on here, because you were actually led to my work by some link that linked here because for some reason, this subject caught on? and people seem to care about it A WHOLE LOT, and have feelings about it? Surely you would’ve checked to see what else I’d written before making a comment about what I take the time to write. I mean, you did do that, right? You wouldn’t just condescend without looking into it? Would you, Valerie?
Why do you bother recapping tv shows? That is a waste of your time and talent, IMHO.
Don’t listen to it, Riese! Dinosaurs are extinct for a reason!
lol, nice comeback.
But seriously, Valerie has a point, not about this article but about choosing what is important to devote time and webspace to. Like after ellen has gotten shitty because its now ALL recaps of dollhouse and lame-ass vlogs. Don’t want autostraddle to go the same way, is all.
please don’t presume that we’re selling out before we’ve even made money. we’re working our asses off here to do something radically different from anything else out there — and investing thousands and thousands of our own money to do so when to be honest we could just post top 10 hot lesbian elections every week and probs make money a lot quicker.
afterellen is an entertainment & pop culture website, so i think they continue to cover the material they have always covered.
we are a VERY different website! they do what they do and we do what we do and we have nothing in common besides sexual orientation. we’re not competing with them in any way, they’re great at what they do and we’re friends with many of their writers and link to them every day.
Our scope is more magazine-style, we aim to cover a breadth of politics and social issues and we always have and we always will.
please show your support for serious topics by commenting when we discuss social and political issues.
Come on Dinosaur, the new Julie webseries is not gonna be someone talking nonsense into a computer camera for 30mins. I think it happens to be smart and funny, IMHO, and not a sign of the demise of Autostraddle. Laughter and light-heartedness is important!
We balance things out here.
So if you’re not into the recaps or Julie’s hilar vlog, then probs don’t read or watch it. But we will always continue to have things like this article here — thought-provoking conversation and debate. Always. We promise.
‘Laughter and lightheartedness are important’
Couldn’t agree more. Seriously the only reason I was defensive is because i dig the content here, its salty, informative and pro-gaga…
I DO think afterellen cut its own throat with the vlogs, it descended into this weird ass documentation of the wreckage of a narcissistic friendship group, at the expense of the good articles, but hey thats just me. :)
Sorry if you’re pissed…
bright eyes says, it’s cool we can still be friends. anyhow I never watched any of those vlogs so I dunno, I go to AE for the articles! Well, different strokes for different folks.
Julie is my favorite comedian, I love everything she does and I’m really honored to be working with her. Trust me we’ve had a TON of ppl come to us with other concepts and we’ve said no, this project is something that means a lot to us — and the movie they are working to get made is also something we believe in — Women in Hollywood YAY!
We do all our editing in-house and work with the talent on crafting the story and concept and jokes and the whole package… I think with our attention to detail I don’t think we’ll ever have more than three or four vlogs at a time.
But we also want to bring new eyes over to the site and get them involved in all of our conversations here and bring in numbers we need to have the resources to do more on-site reporting for political and social issues.
I’ve been doing vlogs for like several years now, and I enjoy editing (tho i hate being on camera), and it’s good for my brain to do more than just write all day cuz my brain starts to hurt writing so much.
not pissed, we’re cool. watch the show, you might like it!
Taylor Swift likes dark meat
After publicly humiliating Harry Styles at the Brit Awards she was flirting with his black friends Jordan Stephen and Frank Ocean. After whoring with so many white men it’s about time Taylor Swift started whoring with niggers as well. Think about all of the new songs she could write because of the new boyfriends.
I don’t think autostraddle is selling out, I just had a bit of a freak out when I saw the new julie goldman vlogs. I’ll bet they’ll be really popular and enjoyed, they’re just not my thing. I think autostraddle is much, much smarter than the other lesbian sites and I’m anxious for it not to change. Sorry if i came off as an asshole. I really appreciate your busting your ass here.
Ahaha, best comeback ever. The article was great, but this reply was AWESOME.
You’re not into transguys are you? Because, while I absolutely fucking loved this article, the wholehearted bitchslap applied to that moron pushed me head over heels in love. :) Absolutely fucking brilliant. I saw mentioned in said reply that you have written about transphobia….I was quite fortunate to have this link sent to me by a friend but haven’t had the opportunity to read any of your other stuff. Would you mind sending links to the transphobia stuff?
It’s really funny now, to read these comments saying this post isn’t important enough to exist. This is the post that brought me to this website in the first place, and now I’ve been a regular reader for over a year & give you my monies because the things posted here, and specifically the things you write, are so well thought-out and insightful and amusing and brilliant and great. There have been comments elsewhere on the site testifying to the fact that I am not the only person for whom this is true. Like, this post is famous a little I think? So in the immortal words of Janis Ian, SUCK ON THAT.
Hmm… Valerie, is it? When was the last time YOU penned a 3000 word essay on anything? Well, I certainly hope that it was about saving the world, recycling, and volunteering because to write about anything else is ridiculous and a waste of your time. This is America, Valerie, and in America we have the right to write about whatever the hell we want. (I will point out that you did write about the Freedom of Speech act in your above comment which is highly ironic.)
BTW, honey, if you’re going to give digs about the article up above, no need to add compliments or points you liked about the article. This isn’t a polite peer-review that’s going to be graded by your Writing 101 teacher in college. If you don’t like it, say so. At least that way we can admire you for having the cajones to say what you mean without resorting to beating around the bush with nice-girl platitudes.
This article was good shit. Loved it, enjoyed it. Learned a little something, too. Thanks.
Valerie, Taylor Swift has not contributed to art or culture in any significant way. Just because she sells and is unoffensive to radio, she does not deserve recognition. She rewrote love songs that are so common a narrative in our society that young women are told their experiences are common/natural. They aren’t, in fact they are a product of the suppression of the dynamic female voice. Instead her one-dimensional image is insulting to women. I do not relate with her, and the changing construction of femininity will begin to look less like her. I shudder to think of a progressed world will have in its history the indication that her songs were original, artistic, or creative.
Well i didn’t read all of what valerie said cause i was pretty exhausted after this huge ass article that started out pretty solid and intelligent and finished on a big whiny feminist Lady Gaga-loving segment. The article made a lot of sense, and I understand that Swift can be a little too much to bear sometimes, and I also agree that she probably did not deserve a Grammy. However, mentioning that she follows geniuses like Lennon, Dylan, Simon, etc. doesn’t really fit with the other nominees as well (yeah, even “Lady Fucking Gaga”). So anyway person who wrote this, I generally agree with you, and I really respected your style for the first half of the first page. Then it got a little too crude and I lost interest. Yeah, she talks about boys and not fucking them. Great. The thing is that I don’t actually think she is a reaction to a lot of pop stars today, but people think she is, and thats why they hate her. Is she the greatest writer? No. Is she the greatest singer. No. But by singing about these tiny little teenage things, she’s actually being much more original than a lot of other people out there right now, mixing together electronic sounds and giving more thought to a fucking costume than a solid melody. I respect Taylor because she just sings a fucking song. Its not an act. She has a feeble voice. But I really cannot tell you how sick I am of hearing either someones damn robot autotune voice, or a Kelly Clarkston-American Idol-I can sing stronger and higher than anyone-voice. Because I don’t buy it. I can stomach Swift because at least she seems real. Come on, people like her because they see the happy, optimistic side of themselves in her. She’s a decent looking white girl with a couple kinda goofy features that became famous. I think people are tired of seeing the Brittany Spears and Lady Gaga’s that put on a disguise and act like a superstar all the time. I don’t like the abstinance, Madonna/Whore thing being presented to kids either, and I think sometimes that it may seem that Swift is presenting that, but I think that’s as conjured up by critics as it is true. I don’t think fifteen is any sort of abstinence anthem–Abigal fucked a dude. Probably was a mistake cause the guy was using her. Learn from your mistakes, that’s what it’s saying. I think most of your point was based around your opinion that women should sing about being strong, not weak. Well we all have weaknesses, and thats probably why pre-teen girls like Swift singing about theirs. But the thing is that rock and roll is based on songs about boys and girls and love and heartbreak. Come on, Roy Orbison talked about being lonely, the Beatles wanted to hold hands, fuck, Eddie Cochran has a song about wanting to see his girl, but the elevators broken and she lives on the 20th floor–and its a great song. Sure, the Stones talk about not getting any satisfaction and having a girl “under my thumb” but they were one of the first and few to have that swagger. And that’s great, but like I said, I don’t buy it from pop stars like Gaga that dress up to disguise the mediocrity underneath, or even Carrie Underwood, who trys to shove emotion into her songs by belting out long sustained notes. Taylor Swift didn’t have the album of the year. But neither did any of those other pop stars. But I think we can agree that any of those aforementioned are the real threat to our youth culture when we have dumb-asses like Miley Cyrus running around. But nevertheless, as The Who said (they didn’t win a Grammy either, Gaga), the kids are alright.
YES! This is exactly what I wanted to say. Thank you.
I Hate Taylor, but Gaga’s no prize either. It’s the same pre-packaged crap, just choose your ribbon to put on top.
Girl Next Door/You Belong With Me
Express Yourself/Born This Way (you KNOW this is true.)
This is just what people like to do, bash other people. Taylor Swift is allowed to write about fairy tales and love, at least she writes her own songs and writes from her experience. At least she isn’t a washed up pop star who has to have people tell her what to sing and do. She’s a nice young lady and she’s just singing what everyone else wants. Taylor writes from her experiences and this article bashes them to the core. When she talks about how a guy she had a crush on was in love with another girl, the article says its some kind of sexual influence and what not. It’s reading WAY too much into her songs when really, this happens all the time to both boys and girls. They keep comparing her to Lady GaGa, which is mindless. Of course she’s no Lady GaGa, she’s her own person. Lady GaGa is amazing in her own way, and now you see all these other pop stars that start trying to be different and creative like her (A.K.A. Miley Cyrus) and thank goodness Taylor isn’t like that, because the world doesn’t need 50 Lady GaGa’s. And of course she may not cover totally new topics. You know why, it’s because she writes about her life and people do go through the same experiences and with different points of view too. Just because “You Belong With Me” and “Girl Next Door” by Saving Jane cover the same topic, doesn’t mean she stole from the song. Yes she can sing, that’s how she got famous. Do you hear her voice being auto-tuned to robotic-ness like Ke$ha? No, she actually does sound much like she does on her cd and she can sing, just not so much when she dances around. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=in3PtPhFl… <— She's a great country singer and talented artist, despite what this article may say.
This is one of the most bizarre complaints I’ve ever heard. You enjoyed the article and thought it was good while simultaneously feeling that it was a waste of time? Then you thought, wait, I haven’t wasted enough time yet.I need to write a point by point critic or the original critic.
wow u are dumb as shit
Since when do you have the word to tell people what to believe is more talented and right? Writing an article about something that you hate obviously means that you care about it and is a way to show an insecurity that you have for yourself. People can like Taylor Swift, Beyonce, or Gaga; it’s their preference. You have no right to talk and bash about a certain celebrity just due to your opinions against him or her.
It’s really contradictory to both praise the writer’s analytical skills, but suggest that she spend them on more “important” subjects, and to also criticize the points she made, while being, analytical on this subject.
So maybe you should take more time and thought before you give constructive criticism, because contradictory expressions just makes you seem like someone that’s not worth listening to.
Also, you keep adding “IMHO”, but you don’t seem to be humble at all, so again, gives me the impression that you’re not worth paying any attention to.
You’re right, there is nothing wrong with fantasy, and the writer isn’t saying that there is. She’s saying that it’s wrong to be touted as miraculous in every facet of musicianship, winning awards and accolades, when really Taylor Swift is just kind of good at escapism.
Taylor Swift is also fake in her fantasy constructs. Unless she has gone through drastic physical changes, there is no way that someone that looks like her was considered the ugly, outsider, freak girl that no guy wanted to date. It’s insulting to try to pretend optherwise. Yes, she probably didn’t get every guy that she longed for, so others can relate, but I’m quite sure she didn’t have continuously devastating, soul-wrenchingly agonizing heartbreaks from boys that went for other girls instead of her solely because they were prettier than she was/is. It’s also ridiculous to believe (and for her to state) that all those guys had girlfriends that didn’t love them nor appreciate them, so unlike how she did. Vilifying others doesn’t make you the hero, but then, she doesn’t want to be the hero, she wants to be the poor victim that is saved when the heroic (for some reason) boy realizes his folly and saves her by loving her back. It’s so childish. One song like that by someone her age is tolerable, but a whole career of that? Ugh, annoying! Her portrayal as a ‘Juliet’ was mind-numbingly bad with the self-imposed victimhood.
When 17 year old Lindsay Lohan waxed sadly to the media (then acted flippantly) about boyfriend lost, it was understandable; but when 20 + something year old Taylor Swift did it (at least two times that I can think of), it just seems pathetic. Grow up already. But I guess if she did, she would be able to write songs with depth, and that’s not her thing. Emotion is great, but never having any direction for it is juvenile and gets boring quickly.
I love when self-righteous stay at home mom’s like to swing their leg over their high horse and criticize the subject matter of a well-written, thoughtful article.
Taylor Swift IS a mildly important topic. She is in the spot light, meaning she is somewhat of a reflection on our society as a whole. That reflection is a purity pushing, stereotype reinforcing, low quality, self involved cowgirl princess who thinks about nothing more than boys and a fairytale romance. This means that whether or not “our” children are a big fan or not, she is going to have an impression on them.
Another topic I’d like to address is your claim that Gaga, Beyonce, whoever else you mentioned are making music about the same topic over and over again. I think this needs some refuting. Yes, most music is about love, there is no doubting that. But Taylor Swift makes song after song about BOYS who she likes or broke her heart, blah blah blah. I think we can all agree we’ve never heard a song of hers that broke beneath the surface into something deeper. Lady Gaga might not write the most insightful songs, but they do have artistic spins and deeper meanings than just those of “I like a boy, but he likes the popular slutty girl.” Secondly, did you really claim that Beyonce writes similarly to Taylor Swift? Please tell me you didn’t. I actually have a hard time thinking of Beyonce/ Destiny’s child songs that are centered around men/devotion to a man/anything like what Taylor Swift writes. The songs that do pop to mind are “Independent Women”, “Survivor”, “Single Ladies”; I could go on. I am not claiming that these are great songs, but they definitely portray a better scenario for young girls.
Thirdly, and most importantly, there is a huge problem with being conservative and promoting abstinence only. I could get started with my ideas of the social construct of virginity and how it places all of a girl’s value in her body/sexuality, makes her into an object that mustn’t be sullied, and neglects teaching safe self processes, but I wont type that whole essay out. I will point out that states who taught abstinence only health to public school kids are the states with highest teen pregnancy and STI’s. So your claim that there is no harm in an abstinence only view is very wrong.
in conclusion, you are very very wrong and have no authority to criticize the topic of an article written by another, probably more educated person.
Idk I just wanted to reply to this. Sorry, I’m 14 and I was pretty influenced by Taylor at one point. She plays this ‘be innocent, but vicious, be perfect, but insecure’ thing. She did at one point, word for word copy someone elses song, but that stayed on the downlow haha, I used to be a pretty hardcore fan. But she’s petty and childish and has the mindset of Peter Griffin, Homer Simpson and one of the girls from my school. All of this, but not as funny or smart. And can I just say, sure she wrote songs about other people, but at least she wrote them. Now she’s like every other artist. Her music wasnt quality, but backstabbing, when she first came out and now it’s sheep music.
i’m probably the last one to read this article…and i really wanted to leave a comment, but unfortunately there are so many god damn comments already that my computer isn’t smart enough to load all of them, and the page stops right about half way through i think JentheJew’s 8th comment. so yea. finally i decided to just hit reply.
and after ranting all that, i totally lost my opinion on the article in the first place. nerds
As a Spaniard it’s really easy for me to just play certain music in the background without having to pay attention to the lyrics, we’re skilled like that lol. And Taylor Swift offers some catchy tunes -melody wise- that can be tolerated and even hummed. But she’s certainly not an artist worth getting into. At least from my perspective. And I really enjoyed this article, so much I felt like clapping.
I think ‘Britney Spears’ psychotic vagina’ is possibly the best string of words ever put together! It sounds like the name of a progressive jazz album.
Good article, Taylor Swift doesn’t really offend me, I just find her bland and unoriginal. But if people choose to buy her records well that’s their problem. I think most musicians(especially Gaga) wouldn’t care that Swift won awards over them, it’s all about creating the music you love, not winning awards.
I loved this article. Especially the part about girl having more to give than her hymen. You hit the nail on the head.
Taylor Swift shouldn’t be shunned by feminists
It often makes me grit my teeth when feminists get carried away with categorizing what is and is not feminist. The entire idea of categorizing and labeling people and shoving them into little boxes is sort of anti-feminist, especially when women start being shoved into “what’s good/not good for feminism.”
I love Feministe, but reading Jill (who I usually agree with about pretty much everything) deride Taylor Swift for not being the best thing for feminism rubbed me the wrong way for a few reasons, including the fact that this kind of categorizing is a slippery slope.
What I found most absurd about Jill’s reasoning is her discomfort with Taylor Swift playing the virgin too much, which Jill chalks up to a “problem with her branding.” Where exactly is the line then? Should Swift be more like Miley Cyrus, a 16-year-old girl who takes pictures of herself half-naked and does on-stage performances with a stripper pole? If being hypersexualized isn’t the answer, then that leaves an artist with the choice to be asexual, and really, haven’t women been portrayed as asexual for long enough?
Instead of giving Taylor Swift the benefit of the doubt that maybe her own personal choice and personality is not to be overtly or overly sexual, Jill instead jumps to the conclusion that it’s a role she is playing to sell records. This type of judgment puts women into corners. It’s the kind of dilemma women are caught in all the time, because they are judged if they are virgins or act virgin-like, and they are judged if they are overly sexual. Women are supposed to claim their own sexuality in the eyes of feminism, but how are they supposed to claim it for themselves if feminists are judging them for choosing the wrong level of sexuality to portray? Women should not have to worry they’ll be heckled by men for dressing/acting too sexy, but heckled by feminists for not dressing/acting sexy enough.
And, like Jill, I love Lady Gaga, but she isn’t exactly the holy grail for feminists considering she “worships” men, and I’m pretty sure she denies even being a feminist. And, I agree that Taylor Swift writes most, if not all, her songs about guys, but so does Lady Gaga, and most music artists — a majority of music is about love, that’s pretty standard. John Mayer is always writing about love, Ne-Yo is always writing about love, everyone is always writing about love.
Personally, I think Paramore is good for feminism because Hayley Williams leads a rock band, and rock is a genre where really popular bands are 99.9% male, except maybe The Donnas, and few have just a female lead singer, except maybe No Doubt or Garbage.
It’s your musical preference whether you want to hear someone sing about love over guitar, piano, studio-mixed beats, whatever — but it’s an insanely slippery slope to say it’s OK to write about wanting to ride on someone’s disco stick, but it’s not OK to write about unrequited high school love. I don’t think heartbreak or heterosexual love is the only thing women experience, but I think it’s one of the most influential aspects of songwriting, and it’s hard to decide where to draw the line if you’re trying to label anything as “anti-feminist” if it’s too devoted to men.
This topic opens a whole can of worms about what exactly is good for feminism, which opens a can of worms about sexuality and how heterosexual feminists are supposed to be empowered, independent women while also attracted to men. (See: Naomi Wolf, “Radical Heterosexuality.”)
I still really enjoy your reply.
To the author:
I think that a musical artist should be able to speak to whatever target audience he or she wishes to. If swift wants to target heterosexual “unpopular” boy-crazy teenage girls, I see no problem with it.
Additionally, strange doesn’t equal good. Point: just because gaga (and her music) is weird and sexually charged doesn’t cause it to be good. I think the music itself, the rhythm, and how the words flow are a big part.
Also, I see no reason why swift should not be allowed to act in a way that either completely opposes or furthers feminism. Such is her right. Although, expressing your dislike of such is also your right.
As for why love is one of the commonly written about things: because love is one of our (humanity’s) shared experiences. Almost everyone has either been loved, loved someone else, or known people who have loved (or at least think they might know something about it). So, talking about love is something that people can connect with and that’s not a huge problem. I want to add that far fewer people are connected by teenage sex experiences or wild kinky sex with random strangers or one night stands, or lesbian escapades.
As for the “giving all she had” part:
When a athlete tells their coach, “I gave it all I had, but I still lost,” the athlete isn’t saying that the only important part of him is his sport skills.
What the athlete is saying is that he wasn’t holding anything back, and that he was trying as hard as he could try. And if that isn’t enough, wouldn’t that make you sad?
If you wanted to cook a certain dish and you gave it your best shot, and failed, wouldn’t that make you sad? (Not saying anything about your cooking ability, merely an example).
So, I think what she means is:
her friend tried her best, but it just wasn’t enough. And, whenever someone loses something dear to them (in this case, a relationship) I think its alright if they are sad about it. So, I don’t think that swift is saying that a girl’s virginity is all she has. She just meant that the relationship didn’t end because her friend wasn’t willing to do something.
lol lesbian escapades.
I really want to get this comment that I typed up into the forefront of this article so that if people found this, they would see how big the Taylor “talent” sham really is. So here goes.
The only problem with her her “drive and determination” is that every artist who is struggling to make it has those qualities. It’s what keeps them tied to their instrument, playing out in bars, having a roomful of people watching you every night. That passion is unparalleled in musicians. The Nashvillians have been grumbling about Taylor Swift for quite a while now. On the whole it is, yes, that she can’t sing and can’t hold a damned candle to other country giants who speak their words through true sincerity to hard work and virtue. To country artists who know what LIFE is – good, bad, and ugly. They embrace and sing about all aspects, making them down home and relateable. NOT like Taylor who just blocks out the negative and sings about all things happy. This only brings out frustration at an ideal perfection that just doesn’t exist.
Everyone kept their mouth shut all this time because she brought name and money to country music.
But the truth is people may know Taylor better than she probably knows herself. To Taylor, this may seem “Mean” and shocking, but it’s been a long time coming. The quiet frustrations have been built up over time at the lack of talent and utmost fury at the lies of her upstart.
The truth is, her father Scott Swift, is rich. He has connections to Merrill Lynch, and is a very wealthy stockbroker. Music insiders know the story inside and out. Most kids probably know that their teenage love songs that they write in their bedrooms will never see the light of day and is just self-therapy. They just don’t have the resources. But how would you feel if your dad said your dream will come true and I will do anything to make it happen? That I will move to Nashville for you and make you a STAR?
Apparently, he would rope Taylor into performing in front of his friends, family members, anyone available when she was younger. She grew up in a MANSION in Wyomissing Hills, PA, and later moved by request to her parents to Nashville. There, the whole family was invested in looking for talent agents to represent them. This whole “played in bars, and look! Scott Borchetta found me!” is fabricated to a great extent. Taylor was with a talent agency that once represented Britney Spears (look up Dan Dymtrow) – she once wanted to go into acting or do pop music. Dan told her to keep the Myspace and “online teenage diaries” going. But soon Scott Borchetta contacted Taylor’s dad and said he would make Taylor into a country star, but he needed some funds for his start up label. Scott Swift obliged, and exchanged emails with Borchetta that said statements like “You asked me to break both his legs, wrap him in chains and throw him in the lake. I did.”. He paid for one half of the record deal, and Taylor Swift was the first artist signed to Big Machine Records. And that was the start of the Taylor Machine. About a couple million was spent on Taylor Swift (the album), and about 5 million has gone into pushing her as a star. The return is about 900 million in Taylor Swift (product – albums, tours, side promotion) revenue.
If Taylor Swift’s family hadn’t had the money, that drive to get herself out there might have just died with performing at local fairs at a young age. (She never had the vocal talent to attract the bigwigs at Sony.) Taylor probably would have still come out as a good person, but music would have just been her OWN self therapy that only she would ever play back. But her parents, mainly her dad, pushed her and let his little daughter’s dream come true. A lot of people don’t have that opportunity, so when they see a cute girl who says she just happened to be discovered at a bar perchance, they run away with it.
Don’t EVER run off with the idea that Taylor somehow, must have, been signed by talent alone, that fairytale just doesn’t work in real life. Maybe fairytales work in Taylor’s songs that appeal to the imagination, but never in real life. She is as mainstream product and as lucky as they get. She fooled you once under the cover of a guitar as talent, don’t get fooled again.
So you’re saying that Taylor Swift is different in her privileges from the majority of artists in the pop industry how…?
How? In the way that they DON’T have rich parents paying to start record companies for them to have a label to sing at. That’s how.
Taylor Swift is seriously pathetic… Her celebrity is based off of her being the laughing stock of the music industry. She’s a joke these days.
Riese I gotta hand it to you that was an absolutely amazing essay!
Girls or artists like taylor are so forgettable, if they disappears someday, nobody is gonna notice kinda forgettable,disposable ….but like lady gaga, beyonce kind, they are irreplaceable, classic, unprecednented and unforgettable.
you say taylor swift will be forgotten but NOT beyonce or lady gaga. beyonce is little better, slightly more provocative but just as manufactured. lady gaga…wow the onlt thing she’ll be remembered for is being a weird ugly chick who tried too hard to get attention.
I have to disagree with her being ugly. True, when measured against the extreme beauty that all women famous have, she doesn’t reach up to them, but compared to the “ordinary world” she is crazy hot.
And, while I’m not a fan of her music, or of pop in general, I find her music and the message of her songs and videos quite captivating, and outside of the box. Watching Bad Romance I was both freaked out and enchanted. It’s not about being provocative, it’s about not giving into conformity. You cannot honestly say there is another Lady Gaga out there (that isn’t trying to copy her).
Maybe there isn’t another “Lady Gaga” out there, but there ARE millions of other “totally crazy and unique” artists (and millions more wannabe artists) who stand for the exact same thing she stands for; being crazy and unique for the sake of being crazy and unique. In fact, there’s even a word for these people: Hipster. Yes, Lady Gaga’s fashion sense is cool and provocative and her songs are catchy and maybe something a little more than that. However, she’s not a songwriting genius, and I agree with chillax; she’s just a pop star, and she very likely will be forgotten, just like all the other attention-grabbing hipsters of this generation.
This was really a lose-lose situation.
This generation is growing up on whiny,unoriginal music.
…I’m just going to go ahead and say that Lady Gaga is probably the least hipster thing in the world…besides Taylor Swift.
Agreed. Please, people, stop calling Lady Gaga revolutionary… she’s just the next pop tart wearing the crown bestowed upon her by UMG. Plus, her style is totally derivative of Roisin Murphy’s, only with a better design crew.
If she were really revolutionary, she wouldn’t be on the teevee.
Hah, no. You CANNOT even compare Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift, and I’m not even a Lady Gaga fan. She likes to be weird and put on a show, not everyone’s cup of tea. But that woman is an incredibly talented songwriter and a beautiful singer. She was offered a spot at Julliard when she was 11 years old. While you may not like her act, she is the real deal. Taylor Swift is a carbon copy singer that everyone likes because she doesn’t offend. There is something to be said for thinking outside the box, even if it doesn’t work some of the time… Even if it doesn’t work most of the time! Taylor Swift found a formula to sell records, and that is: be pretty, be pure, be the victim and make girls believe they are just like you because you had “trouble getting boys” too. She slut shames and publicly humiliates her exes and masks it as the normal thing girls do to get over guys. It’s a terrible thing to teach young girls and I, like the author, will not reproduce and raise Taylor Swift fans. I want my children to actually have dreams and personalities and silly things like that.
Before you start criticizing others, maybe you should take a good look at yourself. If all you can see is the surface of someone, the looks, and completely ignore her talent and drive then YOU are the idiot who’ll be forgotten.
This was so well written riese it really makes you take a closer look at taylor swift and what she really stands for.
i agree times 5000000 million%
this is brilliant! perfect! amazing!
(if i could articulate my thoughts it would be like you were reading my mind!!)
“one song that misinterprets Shakespeare and The Scarlet Letter so criminally I’m certain she’s never read either.”
THANK YOU. I have always said that if I met her in a dark alley, I was going to bash her in the skull with both.
Also, for all she talks about being an outsider, she looks suspiciously like all the girls that tripped awkward, big-nosed, bespectacled me as I walked down the hall. GIRL YOU ARE NOT PLAIN AND YOU KNOW IT. It’s just like she’s all that or some shit, glasses don’t make you ugly.
Taylor Swift surprised the hell out of me when I found out how old she was. I thought she was 16. No, really, because her music is eternally trapped in that girl-child world before we realize that we don’t need anyone to MANSPLAIN to us what we want, before we have our own desires instead of the world’s. My Dad’s BFF has a daughter who is 8, and even SHE recognizes how incredibly stupid Tay Swizz is and prefers Joan Baez, Kate Bush, and Lady Gaga.
Father Jew (No really Jenny, bringing up your father again? Go on.) and I were discussing Lady Gaga the other day, and he compared her to people like Freddy Mercury. Just because the public doesn’t know what to do with you doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the award!!
yes! it confuses me so much. i was such a fucking insecure adolescent outsider weirdo, and girls like taylor made me feel so much worse, but i didn’t really know that then. i just knew that i was unhappy and felt somehow limited by my physical appearance because it wasn’t like the girls on tv but couldn’t really make the connections. i guess it’s hard to explain in retrospect. and my mom really tried hard to never let me see girls on tv; so. i just think it would be sweet if her songs owned up to it!
and yeah, i mean lady gaga doesn’t care if she wins or not. it’s more about like, what our world is endorsing as an acceptable narrative these days, and what it’s still afraid of. it’s predictable, but still unfortunate.
Girls like taylor made me believe that if I took off my glasses, wore a dress, and curled my hair, I would be beautiful. That was pretty damaging for someone as insecure as me, and I spent a lot of time and energy trying to BE Tay Swift. I dyed my hair blonde. I am olive-skinned, big nosed, and dark eyed. It looked awful on me. I threw a fit with my Dad because I wanted colored contacts. I wanted a nose job. I am so glad my Papa said no to all, but at the time, I hated him for it, and was convinced he didn’t understand me. Gaga, with her big ol nose, makes me go “Hell yeah!”
I WANTED VIOLET CONTACTS SO BAD I SAW THEM ADVERTISED IN TEEN MAGAZINE
instead i wrote stories about girls with violet contacts
I AM GLAD IT WASN”T JUST ME.
Seriously, I was yelling at my dad about my need like I was the little mermaid or some shit.
i really related to the little mermaid except that i wasn’t pretty and i can’t sing. but i defo wanted to be a part of that world etc
Riese, I feel like you must have read Francesca Lia Block, you sound like you did.
I want to scream “OHMYGOD GLASSES ARE SEXY!” at TaySwift’s video producers. Stop using them as the symbol of being “uncool”.
I was the exact opposite. I still have 20/20 (thank God, ’cause I can’t afford an eye doctor), but when I was little I broke the lenses out of plastic sunglasses and wore the frames around. Until my mother tried to make me put them on to show my cousins and I realized they were laughing at me and refused to wear them again.
A good friend of mine recently gave me a hard time by asking “What do you think it says, that all the girls you’ve been with are vision-impaired?” “It says specs=sex, asshole.”
Srsly. My gf has glasses and I think glasses are very attractive.
I wrote a whole thing about Tay Swift and looks, but it was way too long to put here, so I put it on my blag, if anyone really needs to hear it.
A friend told me about this essay this morning, and I’ve already fallen in love with it and brought it up in all 3 of my classes today (one of them was physics…)
Anyway, aside from being very well written, I really liked your analysis of how we have, as a society, changed what we ‘endorse as an acceptable narrative’. The first CD I ever bought with my own money was Destiny’s Child’s Survivor, and I remember the thrill of singing along outloud, shouting that I was my own woman, and not at the will of a man or some other agent of society. Of course, I was about 10 or something, so it didn’t really resonate with me that this was not a message young women had always heard, and it didn’t occur to me until reading this article, that this isn’t the sort of CD that a 10 year old today is going to buy.
I sing along to Taylor Swift on the radio in the same ironic way that I started singing along to Lady Gaga, but while the Lady continues to engross me, in the tiny details hidden within her songs or her lyrics and the creative spirit of her videos, Taylor’s continue to sound the same, and twang me slowly into boredom. But beyond musically, I agree so much with your analysis of what “our” (American) music tastes say about our society at large.
I’d say miley cyrus looks older than taylor swift. she certainly acts that way. Well yes, i’m referring to the way she dresses and questionable pole dancing but taylor swift does look and sound like she’s trapped in high school, forever stuck there daydreaming about boys. GROW UP TAYLOR!
And like was said earlier…taylor supposedly didn’t even go to highschool, was homeschooled after 15yrs old! So that means if she is writing about things that happened to her in school, then she was in middle school, getting dumped all the time! So she isn’t all that innocent! Some say she lost her virginity at “15” which is when she went to homeschooled.And it has been one guy after another, recently her fling with John Mayer! did she honestly think he would be interested in her after all the beautiful women he goes out with? She sounds terrible when she sings live without the benefit of auto-tune..listen to her when she sang with Stevie Nicks!Stevie was looking at her like WTF! What is that noise coming out of your mouth!!!She wins the awards that are fan voted where all the preteens vote and vote which is fine but it takes away awards from real singers who deserve them,Last year was her year, this years awards will be a different story.She isn’t nominated near as many times and the ones she does, she most likely win.
opps I meant the ones she is nominated for she most likely won’t win..
JentheJew said: “Also, for all she talks about being an outsider, she looks suspiciously like all the girls that tripped awkward, big-nosed, bespectacled me as I walked down the hall. GIRL YOU ARE NOT PLAIN AND YOU KNOW IT. It’s just like she’s all that or some shit, glasses don’t make you ugly.”
Better check out Taylor Swift’s middle school yearbook photo:
Everyone feels like an outsider in high school! Not just pseudo-intellectual-lesbian-femminists like yourself and pretty much everyone commenting on this.
Just because you all are, according yourselves, cursed with an big nose and a less-than-attractive face, didn’t make you anymore of a social outcast in high school than someone who has been blessed with good looks.
Being a teenager is tough on everyone, regardless of how ‘pretty’ they look.
Well, Catarinaaa, everyone feels like an outsider even when they’re not. But some of us are TRULY on the outside during high school for whatever reason. Obviously, YOU were not one of these outsiders since you’ve fallen on that same old bullshit – “tough on everyone.” I hate hearing that from anyone; it says “your feelings don’t merit my notice, much less my concern.”
Hate to tell ya, honey, but it’s tougher for some than others. And those ‘some’ are the bullied ones who speed walk with their heads down hoping to escape notice; the mercilessly teased because their hair is curly red or because they’re smarter than the bully or because they have a sibling of a different race and it’s “wierd”; the friendless ones who eat lunch alone in the corner day after day. We’ve already established that adolescence is a very emotional time, and it IS harder for these true outsiders because they don’t even have someone to talk to about what they’re feeling.
Now, before you post something stupid, please not that I did NOT say that it’s easy for anyone. It’s not. But I’m sick of people saying it’s just as difficult on a pretty blonde girl whose Daddy bought her a brand new car, sends her to the salon every week, pays for new clothes every month and hands over his credit card as it is on a plain-looking brunette driving a beater she saved for since she was twelve wearing clothes from Goodwill and wishing she owned a blowdrier.
The blonde bitch doesn’t even know what tough is yet, but you think I should have sympathy for her because “it’s tough on everyone?” I don’t think so. Looks and brains aren’t equally distributed; hardships and “tough” situations aren’t either.
Geez. I was bullied in high school, so I’d know. I’m just saying that, no matter who you are, high school is tough. Everyone complains about how bad high school was.
I wasn’t asking you (or anyone else) to sympathize with her because most people have better things to do.
No need to hate on someone else who claims to have suffered as well just because she’s pretty. xD That’s basically the point I was trying to make.
And I doubt she was THAT rich.
I understand what you’re saying; the problem is that in her songs, Taylor is constantly harping on the fact that it is being pretty that makes other girls popular while she is not. So she’s the one who established that hierarchy using those terms, not the listener. Does that make sense?
Wow, please take blonde out of your list of superficial traits. I have been blonde from birth, and I know as a fact it did not in itself make me one friend in high school. My hair didn’t buy my car (my shitty job did), I shopped at Goodwill (and was well dressed, still shop there), and have never been to a salon (not really my style anyway).
Truth be told, I hated my hair. It was frizzy and wavy. I longed for the silky brown and red manageable manes my sisters had. THEY were the ones with the attention. THEY were the attractive ones. And you know what? They got the attention despite their second hand clothing and clunking automobiles because they let their infectious personalities shine through.
I don’t understand the blonde hate. Why do people think we have it easy? We’re joked at, considered less intelligent. Based on a physical trait? That’s discrimination. I guess I could just die my hair/(bleach my dark skin/stay in the closet/) right? No! Because I say it once and for all- BLONDE IS BEAUTIFUL, DAMN IT! Just like any other physical trait, it is complex and mysterious. Mostly though, it is inconsequential. It doesn’t matter. So what. Devin=Devin, through and through. Oh by the way Devin was born with blonde hair. So what?
To quote the goddess “I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am not your expectations”
I don’t think she was implying blonde is automatically superficial. (Except maybe if she went to an All Girls School like me whee literally everyone had t dye their hair blond or at least had streaks (for fuck’s sake even I had bleached tips) or at the very minimum act like they did lol)
Rather blonde hair is a trait that is supposed to be universally desirable, like blue eyes and caucasian traits, as vehiculed by the media. Even by many people’s personal, conscious standards who do not necessarily deify these, we are still affected by it on some subcoscious level.
Do not forget that blond is a trait like blue eyes that propagated with sexual selecetion. It offers no direct evolutionary advantage (except in terms of sexual competition) and in the case of blue eyes may even offer disadvantages. Of course just because you are blond will not automatically make you beautiful or successful, a lot of it depends on what you are like as a person as well as your other traits, but it is generally a “bonus” or a “plus” :)
Studies have shown several things in linking blond hair with attractiveness and/or success. Sadly it has also linked it with prevailing stereotypes about blonds.
An again there’s also the relativeness of the term “blond” depednig on where you are in the world. I for example am rather picky as to what is light enough, naturally (I insist) to qualify as blond. My lover for example calls herself a blond. She is not blond in y eyes, she is a light brunette and at the peak of the summer a sandy blond with highlights but not a blond proper. Of course where she grew up, in Southern Romania, people have pretty dark brown to black hair on average. In contrast she is light-haired and in some cultures that equals blond. I on the other hand have standards for blondness shaped by a much more Northern European derived society. You wil not be considere blond unless your hair is pure gold or platinum and makes me want to say as countless human beings (well the heterosexual cavemen who are responsible for the propagation of the trait) have before me “OH, gold hair of wheat and Sun, burnt grass and belgian tobacco, will you not allow me to walk yu home?”
Not just pseudo-intellectual-lesbian-femminists
That line alone tells everyone everything about you that is needed to know.
Highschool is “tough” for most people yeah, and maybe you were even bullied a little.
And yet, you still had it easy. You prove it with your words. That is, unless you were bullied for always spouting idiotic nonsense. In which case you kinda got what you deserved.
Wow. Y’all are really bitter.
So you were bullied in high school. Get over yourself, now you have a shitty job and a relationship with someone you can’t marry. :P
And how would you know that I had it easy? ahahah.
How can you even tell me that I had it easy based on a few comments I left on what seems to be a lesbian blog a couple of weeks ago?
what crawled up your ass and died? the fuck is your problem? and why is lesbian some kind of an insult to you?
go fuck yourself, you cunt.
I understand this was written like 6 years ago and though I agree with you point by point I feel that u are highly flawed in your argument of establishing lady gags as a strong female pop star she is anything but.lets start shall we? She went to an expensive private school in New York no less she then began singing on the piano ala Alicia keys which was nice. realizing she wasn’t getting enough dough she took the craziest persona and used that to reach out to weirdos.the thing is she takes about her music as art when it hardly is.it is just gibberish noise and doesn’t in any way correlate to how she speaks of it.she talks about how she has this genious vision for her music and all I heard was riding on someone’s disco stick or gaga oh lala.just because u say u are great media automatically assume u r.u haven’t even released a second album and have people writing books yes books on u titled queen of pop (thereby discrediting all other female pop stars before her who have worked their butt of to establish a place for women like her) now let’s continue shall we after being manufactured in every sense of the word she later went on to have more autonomy in born this way which wasn’t clearly the success it was intended to be. It was heavily influenced to the point of “redundancy” (yes I went. There) don’t get me wrong it has some of the best gaga anthems but was not the revolutionary art her team continued to push it to be. She then had the audacity to use the name of her album as a publicity stunt for the born this way foundation which proved to have done nothing.after that she went all over her head and made art pop and we know what happened with that disaster. After all was said and done she went back to being the piano playing musician she was on tony Bennett album which was the only honest effort I have seen from her.she was way too ambitious and mishandled herself by creating a legend status rather than building it. As far as her fashion is concerned it is just audacious attention grabbing garbage. There is nothing wrong as marketing yourself as a legend but u must have it to prove it.so while Taylor is overrated your respect for gaga exceeds it.
For you information, she has read both Romeo and Juliet and The Scarlet Letter, so stop jumping to conclusions. And saying that she wasn’t an outsider was totally not your right to say because you didn’t know her when she was in school. She was bullied and had no friends until high school. On another note, I would also like to say that most of her songs were written while she was a teenager, so they would include subjects such as crushes relationships. But Taylor has also written songs about bulimia, forgiveness, bulling, and growing up. Do some research.
For your information, Taylor did read Romeo and Juliet and The Scarlet Letter. In fact, they’re one of her favorite stories. And saying that she wasn’t an outsider is totally not your place to say. I’ll have you know that Taylor was constantly bullied and made fun of for her curly hair and dreams. She didn’t have any friends until high school, which she only attended for a year before becoming home schooled. One more thing, Taylor wrote most of her songs when she was a teenager, so it would make sense for her to have songs about crushes and relationships. But she also has songs from the same time period about bulimia, bullying, forgiveness, her parents, how things can change for the better, growing up, and many more topics that don’t involve romantic love.
True dat @sarah Gonzalez she made a song about a four year boy who died of cancer to raise money. I don’t understand why people would hate her so much.
You are the biggest idiot of a writer that I have ever read and I can’t beleive there is a freedom of the press that lets you write this crap. So what if Taylor is the girl next door. Do you not think there are other girls out there in this world that are like her. I understand that Gaga is a great creative performer but Taylor Swift is a creative in her own way. I don’t think she would have sold millions of albums (way more than Beyonce and Gaga’s grammy nominated albums) if people in the world did not like her. There are a lot of girls who still beleive in fairytales and love her music. So take your ugly disease ra ra blah blah whatever and shut up!!
P.S. You are still an idiot and will always be one!
Freedom of the press is idiotic isn’t it sketch? Not everyone should be entitled to impart their opinions without interference should they?
I don’t know you but I hate you and you can go fuck yourself.
your avatar is fat
Your avatar is fat.
Oh man i actually woke up my girlfriend cuz I laughed so hard.
i have to admit, i’m just quoting riese from another post.
You just made me laugh so fucking hard!! I love you.
lot of girls who still beleive in fairytales
We call them ‘kindergartners’
i laughed out loud.
hahaha loves it!
Lot of girls who couldn’t get a boyfriend …
We call them lesbians. :P
funny story: this is a lesbian website! :-p
It’s true. This site is totally into other girl websites. I’ve seen it hitting on shewired before and I know she’s always got an eye on afterellen.
“This site is totally into other girl websites” – I always thought this website was skanky. :P
“You are the biggest idiot of a writer that I have ever read and I can’t beleive there is a freedom of the press that lets you write this crap.”
You just made me LOL. But not with you, sadly.
you know what we need? Stalinism. This freedom of the press thing is getting out of hand. Before long, people are going to start hating on cats. And bunnies. And then probably also kittens (children of cats).
sketch = Taylor Swift’s mother cruising lesbian sites. Btw, sketch, the writers at AE and Shewired are much worse.
“sketch= Taylor Swift’s mother cruising lesbian sites” …. no shit!
I haven’t seen you in a while, Lilo’s cooch! Staying out of the press these days, eh?
You are so way out of your league kid.
Hi! Are you the same Sketch who was in the second season of Skins? The girl who stalks the gay dancer before seducing his best friend (the guy from Slumdog) and dying his hair blond?
Ugh, no, that Sketch did nasty things in Maxxie’s bedroom!
Wonder if you’re the same pro-Stalinist on another comm who keeps advocating that too much freedom is a bad bad thing for artists. Well, at least I HOPE you’re the same person because I’d hate to think there are more of you out there advocating repression.
This was an absolutely SUBLIME read. Amazing, introspective and fucking intelligent as all hell.
And I feel pity for all the people posting pro rainbow/pony/fairy tale comments. They are obviously stunted. Being proud of holding ever so tightly to unattainable and ultra saccharine ideals is sad.
” fucking intelligent as all hell ”
Why did she use big words that you pretended to understand? :P
LOOOL. Come on, fairy tales aren’t that bad.
“LOOOL” – nuff said.
Thank you sketch. This woman is an idiot. Although I have to disagree with you on one point, she’s not a writer. Leave it to feminists not to do their homework. Beyonce reinforces sexual stereotypes that “feminists” tend to attack. Put a ring on that finger? What about, put some pants on those legs? Taylor has busted her ass in the music industry and is wholesome, good clean fun. Beyonce? She dresses like a prostitute and make teenage girls feel bad about themselves. As if an artist who oppresses her own people deserves an award. FYI, this is a blog, not a real venue to proliferation poorly argued, lesbian rants. What next? Going to blame Barbie for your eating disorder?
No, I’m going to blame you for my eating disorder.
I’m sorry but how does Beyonce make girls feel bad about themselves? Put some pants on? Are you implying that wearing a leotard makes girls feel bad about themselves? The majority of Beyonce’s music are women anthems.
Taylor busted her ass in the music industry? How so? You know what, I’m not going to touch that one, but I’m willing to bet Beyonce work ethic is far superior than Swift ever has done, as well as her other peers.
Thank you, Sketch and sydney prescott. It’s not a crime to be good role model. Taylor Swift writes about boys and love because it’s what she’s experiencing right now. Say all you want about her, but like it or not she still has millions of fans.
Yes, it’s a horrible thing to enforce the message of abstinence, isn’t it? That makes perfect sense.
Please, spare us and try to grow some brains before you write an article like this.
See, that’s what’s known as a false syllogism. Calling someone a good role model doesn’t make them one. Nor does calling them brainless actually make them brainless. That only works on very suggestible people who haven’t yet learned to trust their own critical thinking.
And yes, “enforced” abstinence–controlling women’s sexuality through shame, threats, and emotional manipulation–is indeed a horrible thing. Verbally abusing the people who say so won’t change their minds about that. It will, however, convince them that you don’t deserve influence or credibility. (Presumably the opposite of what you were hoping to achieve here, unless you just like the power rush of hurting people on purpose. Which is completely not ok.)
You either didn’t read or didn’t understand the article. You point out that people like Taylor and that there are lots of girls like her, as if that disputed rather than supported the point of the article. Yes, obviously, Taylor is popular. She is likeable because she’s nice, tame, boring, repressed, “normal” – exactly the way that many actual girls next door are, exactly the way some people raise their daughters to be. Some of us – the freaks, feminists, and little monsters referred to in the article’s title – object to that model of femininity. We exalt artists who are actually creative: the ones who disrupt rather than conforming to social norms; the ones that make us think differently; the ones who inspire a multitude of dangerous feelings within us (bliss, despair, rage, distance, connection, ambition, hope, rebellion) rather than just one trite dichotomy of feelings (sad over breakup/happy over being in a relationship); who deal with human sexuality in liberatory or at least realistic ways; the independent, one-of-a-kind souls who produce creations that only could have been made by someone with the vision to see past today’s mundane reality. Go ahead and like T-Swift; we will continue to dislike her (probably for the same reasons you like her).
Hahahahahahahaha!!!! You are like seriously adorable! Let me guess, you’re 13 years old and Taylor Swift is your role model? I’m close? I don’t know, Taylor doesn’t bother me that much but then I haven’t exactly sought her music out either. I figure live and let live. The haters gonna hate hate hate just like that 1 song says.
Taylor is the pseudo-girl next door type. She and her marketing people try to project that image, but she gives off a mean girl vibe to many. When I picture the girl-next-door, I do not picture a girl on stage singing to another girl that she should go stand in the corner because she is about to dish the ultimate revenge by outing her as a slut to the entire world.
Riese, I love you, I do. Because you make stances I can completely agree with, and then to reinforce them you go do your research. You can say you listened to her music and really looked into it all. Then you come back and present it to us in the world-class way only you can.
I want to vomit on Taylor Swift, even more so after reading this.
Honestly, I stopped liking her the moment she hopped in that T-Pain video prancing around like a little white Sambo. I have a hard enough time dealing with the way most rappers portray themselves these days, and the whole baggy jeans, gold-fronts image. I do NOT need her making that shit look cool to her tween demographic. That honestly leads to little suburban girls thinking they can make a mockery of inner-city stereotyped black kids. I can’t deal.
The bitch was HOME SCHOOLED since 15?!
I’m starting to believe none of her inspiration comes from truth.
Oh yeah, we all need boys to complete us, lest not forget.
“That’s right. All Abigail had was her hymen.”
She must be a republican, I’m convinced.
I want you to know that “I stopped liking her the moment she hopped in that T-Pain video prancing around like a little white Sambo” made me laugh out loud (alone in my room) for like five minutes probably.
And seriously, I couldn’t even get into that video, but what the fucking fuck! I think, especially to suburban kids who have yet to venture outside their cul-de-sac or summer teen tours think that we’re actually at a point in society where it’s ok to mock the inner-city stereotype as if America is like, post-racism now. There’s a part of me that can’t believe that video actually happened.
And yes! I enjoy a good educated analysis of pop culture, but I guess a lot of other people just want to look at animated gifs of their favorite celebrities blowing kisses into the rainy wind.
SO thank you for your appreciation, DemiArianna.
Well, I’m certainly not going to complain if you give us animated gifs of Gaga blowing kisses.
Despite the freedom of animation permitted me in this country, I don’t even know HOW to make animated gifs. sigh.
Ha! Cul-de-sac is one of my favorite terms for some odd reason.
And I’m glad you laughed, lol.
I think some of you just don’t get Taylor, and that’s fine. Not everyone is going to love her, just as not everyone will love or understand Gaga or others like her. I don’t believe Taylor is really the goody-two-shoes-you-have-to-be-a-virgin-till-marriage that most people believe her to be, nor is she anti-feminist. She just has writtten her life as she knows and sees it up to this point, and millions of girls and grown women and men too have empathized with her; they don’t necessarily believe in a fairytale world, they understand that it is fairytales and dreams as well as real life she sings about. As for the Fifteen song; to me the meaning of that song is “girls, having a hot guy in school who’s a star on the team and having sex thinking it’s going to last forever with that guy and being popular isn’t really as important as it feels. You are going to grow up and your dreams will expand and change, and those things aren’t going to define your life forever” I might be wrong but that’s what I hear when I hear the song.
And the Tpain song/video. That was a joke song she made to make fun of her very pristine and wholesome self. Its what she does in real life and she knows that its not glamorous or outrageous, its just who she is. She really bakes cookies, she really didn’t use to party or get wild. She did live with her parents at the time she did the song. So I don’t know why it was so offensive to some, unless they think she was seriously trying to be a rapper or something.
It’s not my intention to insult this article or the writer or those that do not like Taylor or do not like her music or both. It’s just that I feel there is more to her than the writer and some of her detractors see and believe.
Most of the songs on her debut and on her second CD were written before she was 18, many of them when she was 13-15 years old, but even as a man almost 40 years old I can relate to those songs and the feelings and emotions they portray. I can remember being young and dreaming of life ahead and wanting to fit in and wanting someone that was out of my reach. Have you heard/listend to the song “Tied together with a smile? That song was written about a friend of hers that was bulimic and felt she wasn’t beautiful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVdc4sxqa7U
Or the song The Best Day about her mother, or the song Change.
She’s not perfect but no one is, and to write her off completely seems to me as wrong as putting her on a pedestal so high that when she falls she’ll be smashed into a million pieces. Isn’t that just as much a bashing of a fellow human as you say she does other girls? I think all the women and girls who are her friends have always had nothing but high praise for her and how she treats them.
Good point, Matt. I think the overall message of Fifteen is a good one- that you are going to make mistakes and have problems and it won’t all matter so much in the long run. But the wording that she gave him “everything” is still uncomfortable to me. It’s not the whole message of the song, agreed. But it’s still not great even in one line to refer to virginity as everything. And it follows a line about her realizing bigger dreams, which sets up an uncomfortable contrast.
I’m sure Taylor has more depth too, but she’s not marketed that way now and it’s certainly my hope that with her next album she’ll be allowed to show her age and growth more as many great women in country music have.
And I think a very important point in this article is that (with the exception of the criticism of her performance) she is talking about the product, the image created to sell the music- the videos, the style choices. It’s not a criticism of her as a person or how she personally treats other women.
And I really want to create a direct link to your comment as an example of how to disagree civilly. Thanks for raising some good points!
The thing about that “everything” line in the song…At that point in Abigails life it was everything to her, not her hymen persay but her heart and everything she dreamed it would be up to that point to be loved and respected and that the boy she first slept with would value the fact that she chose him to be the one she began her experiences in the sexual side of love with. Its not going to be like that for every girl (or boy) but Taylor was talking about her friend who she knew intimately and her friend’s experience, which at the time was obviously very hard for that friend to take, that this boy whom she thought so highly of and loved and thought he valued her in return and would value that first shared moment, so easily changed his affections. As I said I’m almost a 40 year old man and I’ve been through many many heartaches and times where someone I cared about was not at the same place, or even in friendships where a friend didn’t realize how important something was to me. Those times still hurt even at 40 and jaded..how much more at 15 or 12 or 17 or whatever age in your teens you discover a passion and liking and need for someone that you never knew before.
I don’t know if I’m making my point clear, I hope I am to some degree. I think Taylor is just telling the story of herself and her friend, and trying to tell other girls to try to open their minds and see that there are other things than giving their entire attention and devotion to one thing, in Abigail’s case, one boy, because there are other things much bigger and more important and if you put your trust entirely in that boy in your teens and believing that that teenage love will last the rest of your lives, you’re going to get hurt and disillusioned and find out that emotions and commitment are not unchangeable, especially at that age.
Hm, that is a very interesting point and while not my take on the line I can certainly see what you mean and hope that’s how most young listeners interpret it.
I was very much in a place of not letting myself feel anything at 15, so I can easily admit it’s hard for me to take that perspective. But you’ve explained the pov pretty clearly and I can certainly see what you mean.
And the way you interpret it, Abigail’s story can possibly contain a good message. Except that it starkly contrasts other songs (Love Story, for example, “You were everything to me, I was begging you please don’t go”) that portray the “romantic other” as…well…everything, as opposed to something secondary to career aspirations, and other personal goals.
And whether or not Taylor writes about her authentic experiences, she is still a sort of pop culture commodity broadcasting messages to her audience, as are all artists.
Thus, they are all vulnerable to this sort of analysis.
Taylor is just one of the pop artists that anyone interested in the feminist cause finds problematic. I’m one of those not-necessarily-lesbian feminists who is still kind of annoyed that she is expected to clarify her sexual orientation every time she utters the word “feminist”- but ENTIRELY beside the point.
As Riese said, “I don’t want my unborn grandchildren to listen to the story of how Taylor Swift won a Grammy she hadn’t earned. I want them to set pianos on fire.”
I agree to an extent, but it is undeniable that teenagers now-a-days idolize her. The issues that she presents in her songs are not…REAL, they aren’t EARTH MOVING, they don’t make people EMPATHIZE, and they certainly don’t give a view-point that is fresh.
What I hate about Taylor Swift is not that she chooses to write songs that revolve around her self, but that so many young people feel that she is exceptional. She is NORMAL. Every teenager goes through what she is going through. Every teenager worries about boys and heart aches.
She just appeals to the masses, and this shouldn’t be something that is worthy of a Grammy. It should be a one-hit wonder.
What is deserving of a Grammy is something that shifts paradigms, empowers and moves people to empathize. Taylor Swift, though she writes lyrics that significant to herself, does not accomplish this.
Now to unleash the feminist in me: REAL LIFE is not about SIMPERING ABOUT BOYS, IT’S ABOUT ACCOMPLISHING SOMETHING GREATER THAN YOURSELF (and usually, that involves boys simpering around you).
yeahhh i’m not going to lie, i judged YOU a little bit for interpreting “everything” as virginity. i hadn’t picked that meaning up from the line, so it’s striking to me to hear someone point it out.
it’s in the video; watch it!
FUCK! THANK YOU MATT! I’m not even going to elaborate on what you just said because you just said it all PERFECTLY.
I was homoschooled (that typo-ed itself, no lie) since 13, and I’m pretty sure that the creepy Christian-owned company that once hired me thought that homeschooling = brainwashed wholesome goodness. Sorry to disappoint — thanks for the ca$h suckaz!
In conclusion, Taylor Swift definitely had ample opportunity to be way cooler.
The “hey, your Freudian slip is showing” award goes to Lola.
I know this comment is really late so it will probably never be read, but just to clarify a few things…
Taylor Swift was homeschooled for the last two years of high school. so from 17-18 I guess? I live in Australia so I don’t really know much about the American school system, but I know she attended freshman and sophomore year at school and then because she was on the road so much it was more practical to continue with homeschooling.
And no, she’s apparently not a Republican. I would link the article to you if I could remember where it came from, but I read that she admitted that she voted for Obama in the last election.
But she performed at the Republican National Convention!
And last I read she wasn’t sharing who got her vote.
wow. at first this was entertaining. then it got pathetic. you certainly spent a WHOLE lot of time thinking, pondering, and writing about someone who doesn’t mean much to you.
That’s what good journalism is about, Riese could have said ‘I just plain don’t like her’ without valid reason, but before she went on to continue passing judgement with little info she did her research. Her job, essentially, is to delve deep and report her findings and observations on topics that are hot to her demographic. And a lot of us are still pissed/perplexed/in shock about this, period.
I agree. Well informed opinions are teh dumb. I would appreciate it if your next article was a little less thought out and brilliant.
I just had a really good idea to write an article about how my heart breaks open, i can’t breathe, and i go walking in the rain, and feel incomplete. thoughts?
Will your hymen be intact when you write the article? THIS IS IMPORTANT.
Wasteunit, I think I love you.
I just realized that this gives me an excuse to link to my favorite thing on the internet ever! http://www.gigimo.com/main/product/Artificial,Virginity,Hymen,2299.php?prod=2299
OMG IS THIS REAL LIFE?
My favorite part is that they’re in boxes (ha!) of two. You could potentially lose your virginity three times to the same guy. The moans and groans will help you pass through undetectable. Don’t worry. And just in case you’re a TOTAL WHORE who needs to not be on many, many occasions, you can purchase them in bulk for a discounted price.
wait…so….what if the guy ends up not f-ing you???
like….you’ll have leave it up there or pop it yourself.
…and they’re ON SALE.
I agree. This is the best thing ever. Thank you.
“If you worry your family still find out about your package, then you have found the solution. Hide the item inside this teddy bear! Can hide small item inside the body.”
THEY STOLE MY INNOCENCE.
THEN SOLD IT BACK TO ME STUFFED INSIDE MY STOLEN INNOCENCE.
And it’s not even a damn bear, it’s a bunny!
Actually, the artificial hymen is an extremely important, revolutionary, even life-saving commodity in many other countries. I am an Anthropologist and I specialize in modern and historical Middle Eastern Cultures. There are still plenty of cultures in which failure to leave blood on the marriage bed is a punishable offense. The artificial hymen is actually a revolutionary and subversive product that is granting increased sexual freedom to a number of young women. For these women, fear of their family finding the hymen is legitimate, in some cases discovery of the product could even lead to honor killings, or the cultural equivalent. The bulk option is for merchants who need to inconspicuously import and sell the items. The artificial hymen has already been made illegal in Egypt, and is available only on the black market.
While using the artificial hymen isn’t exactly a declaration of independence in these areas, it is a way for women to begin to experience some level of sexual freedom, with a somewhat lessened fear of the repercussions, and may lead to an eventual open discussion of female sexual and reproductive rights. While it certainly seems silly to us in the U.S., the artificial hymen is actually saving lives.
And to the person worried about what happens if you don’t immediately engage in intercourse, the material dissolves harmlessly in the vagina, as do any pieces which may remain following the sex act.
In addition – let’s try to remember that Taylor Swift certainly does not present an edgy or original image, but she is not solely in charge of how she is presented to the world. Taylor Swift did not direct her own videos, and very likely has a stylist who keeps her in those ridiculous curls. The article itself points out her limited and nontraditional education, and the huge influence of her parents over her life and career. As another poster pointed out- this has been her life. We may not agree with the hype, but it’s likely that this is an honest and non-contrived account of her experiences. I am a feminist to the core, a female in a male dominated field, have studied the evolution of women’s roles and rights throughout history, and am currently back in school getting my law degree w/ a focus on Family law -specifically reproductive rights. I am all for woman power.
Nevertheless, I won’t pretend that Taylor’s songs don’t still resonate with the unsteady, insecure little girl I used to be, and I appreciate that even now. I spend my days reading divorce and custody and adoption cases, and in the face of all that I actually find it beautiful that this girl believes in fairy tales, and clearly, so do many millions of people. Taylor will grow up, rebel, become jaded, but I don’t have a problem with celebrating her current innocence and naivety. Swift’s worldview is not in any danger of taking over the nation, or the industry.
as for her curls..they have got to be hair extensions cause somertimes her hair is shoulder lenth and kinda frizzy/. I guess she needs them so she can toss her hair up and down while she is prancing around on stage singing very off key, making heart signs with her hands! They say she turns it under and pins it up when it looks this short but there is no way that is true cause it would cause a huge hump on the back of her head! And as far as being country, just because you wear cowboys but does not make you country…she “strums” basic cords on the guitar, have you ever seen her actually “play ‘ a guitar like Keith Urban?
I completely agree Sarah.
Alex — as usual, fucking brilliant infographic.
Riese — I’m trying to comment on this but it’s turning out to be a waste of time because I can’t organize my thoughts maybe I should create an action step
If I turn out to be half the writer you are, I’ll be happy.
RIESE DANGER BERNARDO 2012 you have my symbolic vote from Canada.
I LOVE THE INFOGRAPHIC
Thank you, you guys!
Wow are you in high school or something because it sounds that way from your article. You compare lyrics. Um, who does that? If everyone wrote and sang songs like you describe I would not listen to music at all. I like Taylor Swift and I like listening to someone who sings about pinning for the boy and being the loser in highschool. I think Hollywood has made money off of the same idea. Taylor will not be Gaga or Beyonce. Thank goodness. She has her own individual talent and appeals to a very wide audience. She also sells a lot of albums if you didn’t know that already. Go Taylor!!
I don’t know if you know this, but album sales have no correlation to talent. If anything, it only shows the PR agent is talented. How could Riese criticize a music artist without looking at the lyrics? THAT sounds crazy.
Seriously, why does everyone doubt Taylor Swift’s talent?
Yes, she may have evoked a certain sentiment of pity after the VMAs, but there is NO WAY she could’ve won all those grammys without having that much talent.
It is obvious that “album sales have no correlation to talent”, but the grammys are (I don’t know if you know this) the most important awards show in music. I doubt they hand out pity prizes.
You compare lyrics. Um, who does that?
I have several books on musical movements that say: professional authors/writers.
“Taylor will not be Gaga or Beyonce. Thank goodness.”
Gasp! Might you have compared Taylor Swift’s lyrics to those of Gaga and Beyonce to make this judgement?! For shame! Um, who does that?
PINNING! you guys PINNING! like in the 50s like in grease right? like ‘omg i’m wearing his pin, he pinned me.’ that’s so much better than pining. pining takes forever and i cannot live without the love in my heart that fills me with driving in trucks for the sunset like romeo and juliet
actually i find this comment way more complex than a taylor swift lyric. bravo #tayloronewomanarmy!
I read “pinning” and think of the time my really hot friend demonstrated the proper Police way to handcuff a suspect by pinning me against a wall.
Word association is weird like that, huh guys?
but the point is…she didn’t go to highschool! Does anyone know why she dropped out and was homeschooled? I think Abagail in 15 is Taylor…
Taylor Swift was homeschooled because her debut album dropped in 2006, she was constantly on the road opening up for other artists and doing radio tours, and it just wasn’t practical for her to attend high school anymore. She didn’t have time for it anymore. There is no other reason.
Her fans will grow up more quickly than she ever will.
I love Taylor Swift. Thank goodness there is someone in the music world who is some crazy booty shaking freak!! GO Taylor. Go all the girls out there who love fairytales and are the girl next door.
The image of Taylor Swift doing some crazy booty shakin is now eternally burned into my mind.
is the music world lacking crazy booty shaking freaks, or was that a typo. i can’t decide which would be better, you know?
i thought that “Go all the girls out there who love fairytales and are the girl next door.” was a joke, because then this person would be really funny.
I think the world would be a happier place if it had an hour of every day designated to crazy booty shaking freaks. People would be required to set an alarm that played Booty booty booty booty rockin everywhere.
Lets do it!
Hi, I’m the girl next door.
I grew up poor with an alcoholic father and didn’t care about boys for a long time, all I cared about was writing was getting out of my little town. The girl who lived next door to me had two good parents who weren’t on drugs or booze and who stayed together. She was a little boy-crazy and grade-deficient, but went to college on a swimming scholarship.
What am I saying?
That I’m sick of this “girl next door” BS. There is more variety than that, and it’s insulting to say that just because someone is blond, white, and affluent, hey, they’re just like you or the girl that lives next door.
When I was stuck in my little town, a boy wasn’t my ticket out, he was a cement block tied to my leg.
This is just one of the many problems with Talor Swift’s “love is everything, let’s get married message.” Just. One.
Taylor Swift forever!! Long live horses and sunsets!! I love her music and I am proud to be a fan. Haters just need to shut up!
I think if you read the article you would know that Riese doesn’t hate Taylor Swift. Here, I’ll help you out: in the second paragraph on the first page it says:
For starters, no one has been “hating on Taylor” — as I understand it, they’ve been hating on Taylor Swift the Product and, as of late, her accumulation of Important Awards. See, there’s nothing to hate about Taylor Swift the human. She’s nice & honest, she’s pumped much-needed cash into the music industry, she looks cute in glasses and she’s friends with Our Heroine Ellen DeGeneres.
I mean obvs this person who posted 4 comments under different names didn’t read the article. Although I can def get behind “long live horses and sunsets” — I agree!
long live horses and sunsets and people whose existance and idiocy alone make me feel like a genius.
but mostly, long live riese.
and also alex for the infographic.
is this the same gd person commenting over and over again?
yes it is, they’re all coming from the same exact IP address.
how’s the snowstorm?
It’s the simple things that crack me up.
I was just about to say, okay, thanks for the spam.
Clearly you’ve never heard of an IP address.
Ok so Taylor Swift won. Beyonce won. Gaga won. Woo hoo!! Great. Awesome. Fabulous. Can we just move on. I like Taylor Swift and I am so ticked that this has happened. I liked all the artist that were nominated. Yes Taylor had an off night but that doens’t mean she should not have won. It was album not performance that won. She had the best year out of any artist nominated. No one could touch her record sells. Her concerts sell out and in minutes and in case you have see on youtube, a lot of other artist have covered her music. Think positive, Gaga will always have 2011.
I’m a little puzzled how you can list all of these qualities about Taylor and ignore that they all apply to Gaga as well. Gaga is more original, more courageous, and more talented. Simple as that.
And her album was full of number one hits, in case you missed it.
NO I refuse to move on!
I remember when fucking Steely Dan beat out Radiohead for best album. OBVIOUSLY NOT BASED ON RECORD SALES! But whatevs, at least Steely Dan are reputable old dudes.
Kid A rocks! Am I 10 years ago?
I can say this essay is possibly one of the greatest things ive read. Not only was it thought provoking, deep and funny, it represents completely what ive come to love about this site. i go to high school, and everyday witness the atrocity of girls only seeing worth in themselves because of how the boys and men react to them. Its a struggle to watch my friends, the people i see value in, diminish themselves by doing so. As a young out gay woman living in a very republican community, where being Jewish is considered a minority, i have enough problems feeling proud of myself and who i am. This glorification of everything that wishes to suppress and hold me back hurts in a place so deep, i never knew it was there before. i understand it is clearly NOT taylor’s fault and i wish her the best of luck, but as said above glasses dont make you feel like a freak or an outcast.
so thank you for writing this, and not making me feel so alone out here.
Thanks Liz! I’m glad that this essay gave you all these feelings. And props to being an out gay Jew in a Republican community. I’m proud of you and who you are.
I feel like there’s a lot of really daring empowering music out there for girls to listen to, I sort of grew up during the whole riot grrl thing and i think it can really be a source of strength. i remember there being mainstream pop stars but we generally ignored them… god, i can’t even remember who those pop stars may have been. mariah carey? she was alright i guess.
i think taylor’s music is fun and stuff. it’s just weird that it’s being heralded as this like revolution for chaste teenagers when it’s really not. i mean, FAR FROM IT. how did this happen
How did it happen? It’s movement conservatism, plain and simple. You gotta fight it.
we all fight it every day, but we have to remember to support each other. thanks for yours :)
Queer Jews represent! *high five*
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Riese this piece is amazing – you make a lot of brilliant points here that I’ve never considered. And also, I laughed my ass off.
I purchased Taylor’s album after the Grammys to see what the fuss was all about and although it didn’t deserve to win, I think it’s a good album. But then you know I have a huge soft spot for tween pop stars, I don’t think I’ll ever stop defending them and their genre.
I’m glad the distinction was made between Taylor the Product and Taylor the Person. Sometimes I feel like people are picking on Taylor the Person and my heart aches a little.
Honestly it didn’t seem relevant to the piece, but I enjoy listening to her music, like I told Alex if it came on while we were in the car I wouldn’t change the station and she yelled at me for saying that.
It’s really sweet and catchy and makes me want to sing along for realsies. but holy shit i had no idea how fucking popular this person was and how it’s become like a huge thing for teenage girls when her lyrics are really dumb. obvs things can be both dumb and fun, but i didn’t know things could be dumb and fun and really meaningful in an almost spiritual way to so many teenage girls. it makes me sad, they need more tegan & sara in their lives.
Everyone needs more tegan & sara in their lives.
Maybe it’s my sleepy pills kicking in but I liked this comment and think it deserves a hug! :)
“I’m glad the distinction was made between Taylor the Product and Taylor the Person. Sometimes I feel like people are picking on Taylor the Person and my heart aches a little.”
Taylor Swift’s songs are super contagious but so are STDs. Like, you enjoyed having unprotected sex, A LOT, but then, afterwards, you realize you now have syphilis.
What I obviously mean is that for the young, unprotected minds, her songs are awesome but they don’t realize that they’re also filled with so many retrograde and infectious ideas (STDs). So next time you have sex with an unknown song, consider using dental dams. Or something like that.
best.comment.ever. (yea this is like a million months late)
Fuck yeah, I’m with you Riese. My thoughts exactly.
Your interpretation of Swift is exponentially more shallow and uninformed of her as you claim she is of the world.
If you did your research, you would know that she voted for Obama. If you followed Grammys, you would know they simply do not vote for conservatives, and certainly NOT conservative country singers. Mainly because most voters are not. So much for politics.
You act as if Swift has sat on her butt and had everything handed to her. She works hard and has since she picked up a guitar at age eleven.
The only thing you got right was what she writes about. Such genius, she repeats it about twice a day, somewhere.
The part you miss is that teens have never had anyone say it the way she does. They like it. It someone had thought of it they would have done it already.
i think most people who come up with an idea to write songs like that get told to shut the fuck up.
Wait vanyogen, I actually have done my research. Like EXTENSIVELY. And all I’ve read is that she refuses to state political affiliations. She was asked about it in a Rolling Stone interview and said she didn’t want to get into politics, but really liked the mood of the country, which is something she could say to go either way.
So if you could provide me with a link to the research I missed, please do.
I went back and tried to find the link. I was 90% sure it was Rolling Stones, Feb 09. What they said was probably off the record, they said something to the affect “she later told us she voted for Obama” Obviously if I’m right, Swift probably would have had her take it down. After the Dixie Chicks incident, country folks generally don’t get too political. Most liberals who don’t follow Country and have not for decades, think it’s some kind of blue state genre. It is not. It’s about 60/40 conservative at most. I’ve been following country in all it’s forms off and on since the mid to late 60’s. Is this conservative?
Harper Valley PTA (note the flash bulbs going off from the press)
The voters at the Grammy’s have to have artist credentials I believe. I don’t believe “industry” voters exist except in the form of ex artists turned industry.
At any rate, I think if you read the tea leaves, she has all but said by actions or words, she voted for Obama, or would have leaned that way. What young impressionable, singer song writer would have voted for McCain. Look at who she hangs out with.
As far as research, unless you have Lexis Nexis, research on Google, is incomplete. Swifts web activity is so vast, I had to go through several search gyrations just to get back here. I have been following her out of curiosity, consistently for over a year. I can tell you that unless you know what you are looking for, it can be very difficult to find.
I’m not just talking written articles but also videos.
That’s the best I can do.
Interesting site y’all have here.
okey doke “possible republican affiliation nonwithstanding” has been removed from the sentence where it formally resided.
i am one of those people who think that if you’re in a position of power and influence to change the world that you are morally obligated to do so; by speaking out and etc., but that is defo just my personal opinion and I can see both sides so I won’t go into it.
FOR THE RECORD: i love taylor swift. but in like the way that i enjoy eating ice cream even though i’m vegan and it makes me stomach hurt.
i want to like, love, reblog, and retweet this article.
yes yes yes me too about the ice cream.
But….but….but I learned all the words to ‘Love Story’ so I could serenade you all with it. Did I toil in vain? SAY IT ISN’T SO!!!!!
No TSwizzle it was not in vain, I will consider your serenade from my ivory tower, I will be wearing a gown and a padded bra!
i don’t know about Love Story….but if someone serenaded me with You Belong With Me i would probably do them on the spot.
Agreed, but it would have to be more like this version and less like Taylor’s version…
Miss Kitty Fantastico! I thought Dawn killed you by accident!
(I am so loving all the usernames tonight)
I’ve been hiding from Dawn since the crossbow incident. Please send tuna.
i love you guys.
BEST USER NAME EVER!
I want a version of Love Story that reflects what really happens in the story:
Will you die with me, Juliet/You’ll never have to be alone/I love you and I stabbed Paris you should know/I’ll die first, then stab yourself through that dress/Oh,It’s a love story, baby just say yes.
That’s awesome that you learned how to do that!
“Punks don’t win awards, they eat awards.”
Great article, Riese!
Riese, legendary article per usual. Thank you!
AND THAT INFOGRAPHIC MADE ME REALIZE THAT TWILIGHT AND TAYLOR SWIFT ARE THE SAME THING OMG.
Eh. I’m not a Swift fan at all, but some of us don’t think Gaga is OMGWTFBBQAMAZINGGGG. Sorry, but I fail to see any significance in lyrics like “I wanna take a ride on your disco stick,” and I can’t stand her music. This article looks like it was written by a Glambert.
Man, I miss Veruca Salt.
Outside of my Gaga meh, though, I do agree with some points you raised. Particularly that Madonna/Whore picture.
eh eh eh there’s nothing else i can say
eh eh i wish he never looked at me that way
eh eh there’s nothing else i can say
can’t fight the seether!
I really don’t think we’re going to have to worry about Taylor Swift for a terribly long time. I wish her all the best. But I don’t think it’s going to be easy for her to mature as a singer/songwriter…I mean, if you’re still singing about crying and boys and fairytales when you’re 30, it’s just kind of creepy.
I know, I sorta feel like she needs to take a few years off and go live some life, and then come back and try to write songs again. I read a few interviews where she says she doesn’t usually even write about her own experiences now, just stories from friends! it’s like either these awards are premature, or this might be the last year she had a shot at winning one. i guess we’ll see!
A+ I have to admit, whenever I hear someone talk about You Belong With Me, I think of Saving Jane. I’ve never heard anyone articulate the blatant similarities before, so this was much appreciated!
I am actually really confused why no one has called her out on this!
Thankfully, when going about my day, never once do I stop and think “… Tim McGraw?” and thus, think of Taylor.
ALSO in that song where she decides she DOESN’T LIKE some guy, she uses ‘gay’ pejoratively. And probably doesn’t know what ‘pejoratively’ means. Or what ‘gay’ means. That home school doesn’t do sex-ed.
I’m not sure you can assume Taylor Swift doesn’t know what pejoratively means… Also, that lyric has been changed from “I’ll tell mine that you’re gay” to “You won’t mind if I say” in newer versions of the song. Maybe Taylor rethought how the lyric came across because I do remember seeing an interview where she was asked about it. She claimed she didn’t mean it as a put-down to gays, but rather as a lie you’d tell people so they wouldn’t be interested in dating the guy (the guy tells his guy friends she’s obsessive so they won’t want to date her and she tells her girl friends he’s gay so they won’t even think of him as a possible date). Maybe she was being insincere, but nonetheless, the lyric has been changed.
Oh exactly! She really didn’t know what ‘gay’ means.
I’m mostly joking. Taylor may very well possess an astounding vocabulary she simply chooses not to employ when songwriting.
Katy Perry wrote a song called “Ur So Gay”. :P
I have to admit the graphics are what made me read this article. The title kind of feeds into the whole Taylorgate going on right now. As previous people have mentioned I am glad the Taylor image is separated from Taylor the person.
I work in music so this issue really hit home with me. Though I did find your piece interesting, you can also see that um maybe you are a huge Gaga fan. Personally I love Taylor Swift and not just because she finally became legal but because of what she represents. Not the feminist devil but the young, simple girl that most not all woman used to be. She has this ethereal angelic look that parents love and teenage girls obsessed with romance clamor too. She is the “image” people want to be. The girl with everything, because really as a teenager who the hell wants to be the outsider teenager years are hard enough as it is.
For every point you raised about Taylor someone who dislikes Gaga could argue the same thing. She came from a wealthy family, copies artists who came before her, and writes songs which lack the shall we say songwriting skills an artist at her level should have. It all comes down to how the artists are packaged and their image sold and shoved down the public’s throat.
Corey, if we had an actual office and not a virtual office, I would shoot a koosh ball at your head right now.
corey seriously, you’re going to have to elaborate / clarify what you meant by ‘feminist devil’ because like, you work here and i need to know what to buy if i draw your name for secret santa. like, maybe you want a feminist angel doll or something.
Feminist angel doll please preferably one that looks like Taylor Swift.
And I accept my fate for opening my mouth. Either way it was a great article Riese, even if I don’t agree.
“She is the “image” people want to be.”
I don’t think that’s a good thing honestly.
i want to dp alex’s infographic (since it’s not an actual human and i want to protect the sanctity of marriage and all.)
yay riese! i’m totally feeling this article. and i’m with crystal, i’m glad you pointed out the difference between person taylor and product taylor. because human taylor probably has felt the things she sings about and we shouldn’t take that away just because product taylor sucks in a major way.
w/r/t/ innocence, hymens, boys etc. i hate this shit. like for real. how are girls supposed to figure anything out if all they hear is ‘sex. sex sex sex. sex is great. just not now. and also you’ll need boys if you want that and boy’s are just to hard to figure out and will hurt you. and so will sex’? people say society is too sex-saturated but maybe we should be looking at how we respond to kids’ exposure to sex instead of tryig to get all puritannical all over everyone’s asses. is this were the case, maybe i would’ve figured out i was gay earlier/on time.
maybe i eat a snack or something instead of commenting directing after reading my sociology of pop culture articles.
I don’t really have much left to add that hasn’t already been said, except that I did so much agreeing during this article that I’m amazed my head didn’t fall off.
That and.. it’s really wonderful that there are places like Autostraddle where I can visit and feel challenged and empowered, especially in a world that is mostly telling me to be quiet and fit the mould. I always appreciate it, and it always makes my day better, to know that other women notice the very anti-feminist messages we are exposed to in such a widespread and mainstream way.
Thanks Texmez. It makes my day better to know that other women notice and care and come here to say so. I feel like we can all be fierce wierdos together, hymens and all. We’re honored to be described that way. So thank you.
“anti-feminist messages” – Well, unless you’re watching Fox News, the media isn’t exactly that unfair.
Sure, some commercials directed towards men and a few insecure women who think that they can look exactly like the models, could be considered degrading. But there are a LOT of news articles about ‘positive body image’ or ‘being yourself’.
Although you have all those Dove campaigns around to raise ‘self-esteem’ and ‘confidence’ (not anti-feminist) for insecure women who just haven’t gotten around to accepting themselves, I would prefer watching an Axe commercial (blatantly degrading to women) where a crowd of hot chicks attack a man. ;) Either way, they just want you to buy their products. That’s pretty much what the media aims for, I doubt they meant to be ‘anti-femminist’. The female anatomy is just so interesting. :P
What is so wrong about being innocent and pure and writing 2 albums about it? xD And then winning a lot of awards??? ahaha.
I wanna take this post behind the middle school and get it pregnant.
My first reaction to Taylor Swift the Hugely Successful Pop Star was confusion and mild disgust. I have since developed, uh, stronger and better defined feelings. Btw, I agree with everyone who said she won’t be around for long: she already comes across as infantile to the point of mental disability (no offense to the mentally disabled) and I honestly can’t see how her act will live on after she’s past legal drinking age. And in a few more years, I am SO going to enjoy that Where Are They Now VH1 special…
By the way, Adam Lambert complimented Taylor’s Grammy dress and her height (…yeah, reaching a little there, babyboy) and called her a Glamazon. I so wish he were right. Speaking of Adam, who else is excited for his current not-a-shock-rocker-in-fact-totally-likable PR stage to end and the glittery-cultural-revolution-via-gay-anthems(bring-your-own-sex-toys) to begin? When you have some time, Riese, I’d LOVE to read your thoughts on him.
One last thing: someone in the comments was mocking the apparent simplicity/unoriginality of Lady GaGa’s lyrics in LoveGame. To that I feel I should say: 1) disco stick is motherfrakkin’ poetry, 2) it is a glorious declaration of GaGa’s sexual identity as the woman on top, a.k.a. the rider of said disco stick, be it an organic part of the male anatomy or the baton wielded by the female cop in her video (hey – I believe in thorough literary analysis), and 3) despite everything we’ve ever learned from Britney, female desire can actually have agency beyond “I want you so much to want to do things to me” etc. SO THERE.
no_detective i salute you! And your comment made me LOL too.
And I agree about the Gaga lyrics — I mean, for one thing, many of her lyrics are basically satirical; hyperbolic meta-commentary on mainstream pop music. It’s easy for people to take them at face value and criticize them from that angle.
I understand that a lot of people don’t see the glory and power of her lyrics, which is fine; different strokes for different folks — but also, Taylor is a girl who stands on a stage with a guitar. Lyrics are the most important element of her production! For Gaga I think even people who don’t dig her lyrics could still appreciate other elements of her performances and her songs. In some of her songs the lyrics are more like another instrument than words, if that makes sense. So YAR!
I’ve basically been listening to Fame Monster, For Your Entertainment and Sainthood on shuffle for like 2-3 months now so I feel like these people live in my head. We’ve written about Adam a lot here actually! So I am eagerly awaiting the right moment to write about him even more. I wish he would make out with his keyboardist on stage again. Sigh.
Okay, see, I was gonna engage in further discussion re: lyrics and meta-performance and what these things reveal about the current (pop) cultural climate, but then you went and mentioned that AMAs makeout session and now I’m all… distracted. In a happy, tingly way.
Brb, looking up Adam on Autostraddle.
Here’s a few!
Adam Lambert’s ‘For Your Entertainment’ Album Cover is the Most Terrible/AWESOME Thing Ever
Lady Gaga & Adam Lambert on American Music Awards: Performance Art & Dirty Talk
Adam Lambert, as Photographed by Robin, Including “For Your Entertainment” Video Premiere
Team: Good Morning America Can’t Handle Adam Lambert, Cancels His Appearance
OH MY GOD, THIS IS LIKE THE BEST SEARCH FUNCTION EVAH.
Thank you!!! I think I just found my new favorite spot on the internets. *gets comfy*
Don’t forget Britney also taught us about understanding the touch of our hands
ooo I love that song!
You guys! Okay so look what I just found via another website that linked to this essay and then also linked to another essay!
LOOK LOOK LOOK, SOMEONE ELSE FEELS THIS WAY TOO AND IT’S REALLY FUNNY! Taylor Swift Wants To Ban Access To Your Lady-Bits by a woman named Sady Dole. Obviously I missed this article at the time (I subscribe to bitch print and keep up on their website pretty well) ’cause this was before I became interested in Taylor (two days ago), but she says a lot of what I said here, but probs even better. Like this:
“Teen Girls of America, here are your choices: have sex and wind up broken and sad and feeling as if you’ve lost “everything you had,” or wait until your untouched vagina accumulates enough charge to make you rich and famous. Because your sexuality should never be an end in and of itself; it should be something you strategically employ to get what you want. Which isn’t sex, because who ever heard of a girl wanting that? This TOTALLY WHOLESOME MESSAGE comes courtesy of Taylor Swift.”
I feel super empowered by Sady Dole right now and I would’ve just added that to my article, but it’s already too long.
You’re a dick wad!!! you obviously have so many issues of your own that you can sit there and write an entire essay about a girl who has just followed her dreams and been genuine the entire time! taylor Swift is a beautiful person, and society can’t get enough of her because there are not many people in the public eye that are like her. So what if she has an innocent appeal, why is that a bad thing? why can’t everyone just leave her alone? I don’t think she has the best voice of all time, or even a great voice at that but she has never claimed to be something she is not, she is just doing something that she loves and something that makes her happy. She puts on an entertaining show and writes music that people, not just tweens, normal everyday poeple, can relate to. So what if it is simple music, it’s obviously working in her favour!
people just need to lay off. She won the award, there is nothing anyone can do about it and sitting here bitching about whether or not she deserved it is not going to do anything but bring people down. If you’re really concerned about making a difference and having a say, why don’t you put a bit more love out there instead of a critical essay on a 20 year old girl who just happens to get paid for something she loves doing. jeeze!
i answered all of your questions (which may have been rhetorical) in the article. i’m glad that you enjoy taylor’s music and it means something to you. probably reading feminist critiques of pop culture isn’t really your thing, just like taylor swift isn’t many people’s thing and lady gaga isn’t a lot of people’s thing.
*snort* Dickwad? 1999 called. It would like its insult back.
I am sorry to admit that I just called someone a jerkwad yesterday and then promptly roflcopters after letting the full meaning of it sink in.
My number one question for you, Sarah, is did you read this entire article?
also, I think youre wrong here: “but she has never claimed to be something she is not,”
And I think Riese is totally right, probs a feminist critique of the implications of a brand like “Taylor Swift” isn’t your thing.
oh sarah, expecting the world to treat someone (namely that swift girl) fairly because she is good/innocent, is like expecting a bull not to charge because she’s a vegetarian
btw, i dont know what “normal everyday people” relates to thinking they’re repunzle awaiting prince charming, because “normal everyday people” know that it isnt reality and that most “prince charming” are awaiting their own prince charming. while others are either worrying about/paying their bills, or are engaged in sapphic “digital” intercourse.
So grow up sarah, thanks in advance =]
HER SONG IS CALLED GIMME MORE FOR A REASON, CAUSE ALL YOU WANT IS MORE MORE MORE
LEAVE TAYLOR ALONE!
“…it never strives for thematic weight or challenges ideas not already covered by Sweet Valley High or The Children’s Illustrated Bible.”
When I was in first grade, I’d read The Children’s Illustrated Bible one night, and the next day in class my teacher asked me if I’d been reading (we were supposed to do a certain amount each night) I told her I read the whole bible last night, and she thought I was a big liar. I always laugh when I think about that.
BUT I DIGRESS-
Great article I love the Madonna/Whore complex pictre. AMAZING article actually, well thought out. Riese (and Autostraddle) you never fail to lay down the facts and really disect pop-culture, which ends to get dismissed as fluff, but it’s fluff that affects us all.
I knew that Taylor Swift portrays innocence, but now I JUST GET IT.
Seriously, before I stumbled upon Autostraddle, I refused to let myself be seen as a feminist, you know the usual lame reasoning.
BUT NOW I GET IT. YOU CHANGE LIVES.
Your tangent story is funny because that happened to me in 3rd grade! It was the Kid’s Bible and I honest-to-Gaga read it cover to cover and she didn’t believe me at all.
i also read that bible cover to cover!
and then my parents got mad at me cause i stayed up all night reading…
Aw look at us bein’ all smited for readin a holy book and having to read’em in secret in the nighttime and now, little did they(we?) know, for also being of the gay!
Really well done article. Still, I find Lady Gaga more obnoxious than Taylor Swift. And just as cookie cutter incidentally.
Well, it’s 3AM… my thoughts are a kinda disoriented and I shouldn’t be commenting, but I just wanted to say that this is pretty rad! I’m glad I grew up with songs that told me when I’m feeling sad and low, spice girls will take me where I gotta go, smiling dancing everything is free, all I need is positivity. Spice up your life.
Uhg. Some of these commenters make me so angry. If they had actually read the article they would see that you weren’t being a dick at all and in fact made sure to say that Taylor Swift is not a terrible person, but her music didn’t deserve to win all these awards. People are so insulted that their beloved pop star is being insulted that they are being really cruel. You made sure in the article to point out that it wasn’t really anything personal towards Taylor, but rather the fact that she is getting so much notoriety in the music world. I think that her songs are catchy and they do mean a lot to teenage girls, but doesn’t that suggest that maybe they aren’t quite sophisticated enough to win awards? Also as a singer, I recognize that her voice isn’t nearly as strong as some other people’s. I think that she is doing really well because she writes accessible music and has a sweet face, but why does that grant her a Grammy? It is actually kind of inspiring I guess. Anyone can follow their dreams and win awards if they know how to market themselves. I thought it was a well written article and you took time to write it out thoughtfully, even if people don’t see that because they are fueled by defensiveness.
P.S. I still think that was a dick move for Kanye to interrupt her. Nobody deserves that. It was her time, even if people don’t agree with the decision.
YEAH! EVERYONE STOP BEING A DICK! LISTEN TO JULIA YOU GUYS
“Anyone can follow their dreams and win awards if they know how to market themselves.” true ‘dat.
I don’t know why people are being mean, really, i feel like most of the commenters don’t read the second page of the article. mostly i just wanted to talk about how i think that when we think about role models for children, we might do ourselves a favor by considering more revolutionary and inventive role models like the other musicians popular right now. HATERS WANNA HATE obvs.
And yeah, Kanye was a dick. Any role model of mine would’ve stood up to him then & there, but that’s really my personal preference.
I think the people who are posting mean comments (instead of well thought, articulate rebuttals) directed at you are doing so because you crushed their little pony dreams with your logic, and they can no longer function. Send them some sunshine and rainbows, stat.
or ponies and teardrops?
ahahahaha. Y’all are so funny! I just laugh and laugh when I read this stuff.
I love ponies and rainbows and prince chamning! Send me lots. :P
I think taytay is adorable & I will always enjoy drunkenly singing her songs with my roommate. I honestly just skimmed this cause its 3:35 in the morning, so I have nothing else to add without being misinformed. Well I can add that I would very much like to do lady gaga, and not taylor swift.
I just really want to stick it to whoever picks this stuff. Thanks to them, Taylor’s got this stuff to contend with now, while everyone else got snubbed.
Taylor’s super cute and all but that’s about it. No more no less. She’s definitely not the one who makes me all sell-my-soul crazy up insides. Lady Gaga makes me want to change the religion section on facebook to Haus of Gaga, give up everything I have and join the little monster revolution.
Dear Judger People,
I love this article, I love this infographic, I love you.
I have the same annoyance with Taylor Swift as I have with a lot of hyped mainstream entertainment (like Twilight, the DaVinci Code…). The products themselves might be pleasant and entertaining enough (although I do have individual problems with all of the things mentioned above), and if you like them, no problem, just don’t claim it’s good. Their ability to accumulate ridiculous amounts of money? Excellent. Their actual cultural value? …
i’ve tried to construct a comment several times and failed but i’ll just say I AGREE and thank you for this, i wish the entire media did their job properly, the world would be completely different. by which i mean/ am hoping that autostraddle is changing the world one article at a time.
also i wish people would learn how to read!! is comprehension a lost art? this is probably also the media’s fault.
Thank you guys so much, you rock. As a young Gen Y woman, I get so sick of the argument by conservative parents that listening to Britney, Lady Gaga and loving my little dyke Lindsay (despite all the craziness) would make me turn out to be a whore. It’s the same with all generations really but it’s an argument I am so bored of. I loved Britney as a kid, danced to her, bought all her albums and my brother called me a tart when I tied my shirt the way she did in the Baby One More Time video..I didn’t find out what that meant til I was older haha. And I’m not scarred by any of it. I know that they are performers and performers…well they just dress crazy onstage or off because well…to me they’re kind of entitled to, as they are, after all, entertainers. Swift is just another example of how Disney/the industry went for an image overhaul after the public downward spirals of some of their most loved (and successful) stars by bringing out heaps of self-proclaimed virgin/non-threatening/Conservative Christian/generic/cookie cutter etc singer-actresses to once again claim back a wholesome family image. I’m not that ‘out there’ myself but I like my entertainers to be brash, have kinda husky voices (I have one myself), rebellious, crazy and raw. I can live out that inner freak in me through them. Thus, my 4 favourite entertainers are Lady Gaga, Lezzy, opps I mean Lindsay Lohan, P!nk and Amy Winehouse. I also adore Ellen Page but I’m not sure where she fits into the equation right there lol.
I loved Britney too, ha. But I knew she was like, bubblegum pop or whatever and that although she sold well, it wasn’t like real ‘art’ or whatever. But I loved it anyhow, and I still listen to her stuff and anticipate her new albums eagerly.
I think Ellen Page is a bit of a gender warrior. She seems to want to go against the grain. And she has a sexy voice. and is cute.
“I loved Britney too, ha. But I knew she was like, bubblegum pop or whatever and that although she sold well, it wasn’t like real ‘art’ or whatever. But I loved it anyhow, and I still listen to her stuff and anticipate her new albums eagerly. ”
And this right here is the crux of my biggest issue with this article. Who are we to assume that Taylor’s teenage fans don’t see her in the same way? I spent my teenage years reading Seventeen and listening to terrible pop music, but also read Ms. and listened to Ani DiFranco. I was able to critically look at what I liked and to realize that it wasn’t all to be taken seriously. Maybe I’m an optimist but I think there are a hell of a lot of teenage girls in the world these days who can do the same things. Let’s give them the credit they deserve and also, room to come to those conclusions on their own.
(I also really agree with Mike and his reading of the song “Fifteen” and am glad that comment started a good conversation.)
(And it’s a small-ish thing, but it bums me out when people put Mandy Moore into the “Britney, Paris, Jessica” category. She’s matured beautifully as a songwriter and singer, and I wish she was given more credit for that.)
Anyway, you do make a lot of great points, and I really enjoyed reading this – it is so rare to read something this cogent and well-thought-out on the internets, so brava. I want my nieces and cousins and currently-hypothetical daughters to set pianos on fire as well. But! I also want them to be able to enjoy the silly things in pop culture without feeling bad about it, and I want them to be able to make decisions about which *are* the silly things on their own. And since they’ll be being raised by me and my equally-awesome feminist husband, I trust them to be able to see those differences.
oh god, if i start getting quoted from comments to defend my points this is going to be a shitshow. whatever i say in a comment, which i write in about 14 seconds without too much concern for how it fits into a more nuanced and thought-out argument, should never be used to back up anything I wrote in the piece or held up as an issue with the essay. i could go further into the britney thing, but if i had included that point in the essay i would’ve expressed my thoughts more clearly.
in any event the answer to “Who are we to assume that Taylor’s teenage fans don’t see her in the same way?” is the exact impetus for writing this essay — because she just won a fucking grammy for album of the motherfrackin year. prior to that moment, i assumed that she wasn’t actually serious, just a teen fad. i think i say that in one of the first grafs of the article. britney was nominated for a few smaller awards (best pop vocalis, etc) and won for best dance album or something of that sort in 2005, but she never won an award that John Lennon and Bob Dylan and Outkast had also won.
On the subject of comments, I wanted to say there are some brilliant/hilarious ones here and I almost feel like it needs its own HDYSTC. Who knew Tay Swift made us have so many feelings?
THE INFOGRAPHIC ROCKS
Riese, I am so glad that you not only made a point of separating your criticism of the product from the person (in bold, at that). I think the most important point here is the more subtle messages the Taylor Product delivers. And the majority of the songs (which is where Taylor the person has the most direct control) are fine- no girl bashing, no judgement in the lyrics. But you’ve pointed out some of the problems with the Taylor Product as a whole and a couple of songs in particular that are certainly worth considering. Thank you.
First, I definitely agree with you on the Madonna/Whore motif. Sexuality should be a personal choice and every individual’s decisions respected. Instead (there was a great article you all linked to a while back, I think on Jezebel about this), young people are constantly being fed two opposing narratives: 1) having sex makes you a dirty whore or 2) not having sex makes you a prudish freak. And then we are taught to judge the actions of others along these same lines.
The main offender here is, as you’ve pointed out, You Belong With Me. The boy is being seduced by heels and short skirts, but we are assured that what the boy *really* wants is the virginal sneakers and t-shirts Swift. It reinforces the idea that boys will run around with the “loose” girls (with little or no judgement on him) to get his kicks, but won’t want to really settle down with such a woman. If you want to win the man in the long-term you better keep those ankles crossed and knees covered. Same problem with referring to virginity as “everything”. The song pretty much states that if you want to have bigger dreams, you can’t have sex. Instead of reinforcing high school stereotypes and painting the “cool kids” as sexual and the “nerds bound for great success” as pure, wouldn’t it be great if a song suggested that we’re all the same and our choices are our own and we could all just show some compassion and get along?
Because what a lot of this comes down to for me is compassion. There is room in this world for weirdos and punks and band geeks and cheerleaders and girls who want to shatter every gender role and girls who want to get married and work full-time as mothers. If you spent your childhood dreaming Swift-like fairy tales about boys in pick up trucks, great! The problem is when someone says “I’m doing what I’m doing because what that guy over there is doing is bad.” Or worse, when we tell others “You have to be like this because everything else is NOT OKAY.”
Yes, we’ve all had bitter experiences in school and yes we can all relate to a song singing about how we are more deserving of getting what we want than that “other girl” who seems to have it so easy because she is prettier (and the end of the YBWM vid pretty much sends the message that if you want attention you’d best doll up as well). And this is exactly why I find the song’s theme so tired. Now write a song about how, looking back, you never really knew who that “other girl” was at all and should have just realized that you were both your own kind of cool and it doesn’t matter and maybe that song will stand out. Or at least be something I’d want my kids to listen to.
Kids need to be taught to celebrate themselves because they have value as all people do and not to find self-esteem by criticizing others. If my (hypothetical and unlikely to ever exist) kids decide they want to be Taylor Swift when they grow up, they will at least have known that Lady Gaga was an option too.
So while I find no problem with Taylor the person and only a few particular problems with her lyrics (which is true of many many artists), the Taylor Product packaging you’ve described does pain my inner feminist.
Loose ladies in short skirts and high heels: When you are rejected by Tay Swift’s man-child boyfriend, please know that someone with an actual sex drive is waiting in the wings to appreciate your legs. namely me.
Or me. Especially if you have short skirts, high heels and glasses. :)
While that comment is already ridiculously long (sorry!), I do have to add:
As far as the Grammy goes, I find the theme of Taylor’s songs pretty bland and I think that is a fair part of a Why she shouldn’t have won argument. Saying the themes are simple doesn’t mean you shouldn’t love listening to it. Quite the opposite- we’ve all pinned for someone at some point so it’s no surprise that an album about that is largely unrequited love is wildly successful. But does it really stand out? (This question is why the lyric comparisons Riese gave are relevant.) Does its artistic value merit an award, or is the award about likability? Music doesn’t have to be a huge stage production or even address sexuality to be great. But it does have to have something about it, something that stands out and I’m not convinced this album does. These questions could be debated, but just saying “I hate you Riese, I love listening to Taylor” does not move the discussion forward. Tell me why you consider Taylor deserving of recognition along with the country greats and maybe you’l change my mind about the Grammy.
Absolutely stunning. Kudos, Riese.
Riese, although I don’t agree with everything you’ve said in this article, you said it with honesty and from your perspective and it is interesting to read your points and think of why I agree or disagree with them.
I would be interested in seeing if you could look at Taylor from the other side of the coin. Imagine yourself as one of those that love and respect her and admire her and try to see the reasons why they do, and why those reasons might be valid. I wonder if it’s possible to argue for something you completely disagree with and make it believable. It’s easy to argue passionately for or against something when you are arguing with your heart and mind, and especially easy when you argue against or for something or someone that is suddenly being attacked from everywhere, or supported from everywhere.
Another point I want to make..has every Album of the Year Grammy winning album been deserving over every other album that year? It’s subjective, and I think if you went back and examined them all you’d find a number of them that could be debated. Were the lyrics of Beyonce’s Single Ladies really so wonderful and amazing that that song should have own against the songs it was up against?
It’s kind of sad to me that Taylor is taking so much heat just for being herself, writing the songs about her life that she writes and being loved for herself and her music by those that love her when there are so many other things that deserve people’s outrage and hate. Is it really such a horrible thing, her winning album, to deserve such a concentrated attack on her value in society and music by so many media outlets and blogs and newswriters, when there are music artists that glorify crudity and killing and other things and no one cares or thinks twice about it? And that’s just in music, it doesnt encompass realities of crime and famine and wars and politicians and all the other tragedies going on today.
Hi Matt, thanks for your input and for reading!
1. people do think twice about artists that glorify cruelty and killing and blogs and newspapers are written about it. all the time. people absolutely think twice about it. twice, three times… wow. and those things are really black and white. this is a different type of article that seeks shades of gray in something else.
2. there is no outrage or hatred here, just nuanced analysis.
3. the issue with taylor swift is that her image and lyrics seem so good on the surface and that people accept it at face value (as I believe you have) because they don’t want to consider what other messages it might send to women. I believe that your perspective is a perfect example of this! Which is fine, you can totally love and enjoy her music — as I said in another comment, I like listening to it too — but what I want to do in this piece is point out that beneath the catchy tunes and sweet teenagey lyrics, there are other things going on. and that’s all. it’s not mutually exclusive to your perspective, in fact it can coexist with your perspective.
4. Absolutely every album of the year winner could be debated. But that’s not what this piece is about. In general however the album of the year award specifically has gone to significantly more exceptional work than Taylor’s — actually it often leans quite old — and I’m curious in what the choice to award Taylor (valid or not) says about our society right now.
5. If you’re a 40-year-old man (as you say in another comment) then the issues I raise really don’t apply directly to you — there is no damaging subtext in those songs for you, aside from I suppose what you might say to endorse these messages to younger women. furthermore i don’t know if you can really accurately gauge what it feels like to be a teenage girl from that vantage point — particularly if you imagine it feels like Talyor Swift says it does. And the testimonies of other teenage girls who say it feels that way don’t really count, that’s just the surface and this piece isn’t about the surface it’s about the subtext.
I don’t mean this in a combative way — but I do believe that that is the reality of this situation, just as I only have limited understanding of what it feels like to be John Mayer.
Which is why I actually believe that I am doing exactly what you ask me to do — I am looking at it from the perspective of a girl who did once absorb messages like Taylor’s without thinking. I do like listening to Taylor’s music, and I do think she’s a sweet girl. All I’m saying here is that there’s more to those songs than meets the eye. And I think that point can coexist with your point, and neither would be wrong.
Riese, Thanks for your clear and reasoned response. I’m not a writer,so I’m afraid my own dialogue won’t be as clear or concise. I’d like to respond to your points; not necessarily disagreeing entirely with each and every one but to try to state my own perspective in a more accurate way.
#1 I know there is outrage at those things that are blatantly wrong and negative in music and other aspects of society; I was just saying I think the outrage at Taylor’s winning this grammy for this album is disproportionate to her perceived offense, i.e. making her own music her own way. She could not give herself that award ,it was voted for her by industry members and musicians and performers and critics, so there had to be enough people that see her music in this album and it’s influence on music as being worthy of this award, so to say she does not deserve it is a debateable opinion.
#2 I obviously wasn’t clear in my comments on outrage and hatred. I never thought for a minute you yourself were guilty of either of those towards Taylor (well maybe you felt a bit outraged at her win) I meant the outrage and hatred that is coming from all different areas of the internet, from forums and blogs and even news writers. Some outright say that they hate Taylor Swift and find every reason to diminish what she has done and accomplished, others just make snarky, belittling jokes and comments that in their own way are more cruel. Would all those same people if they actually knew and talked with her be able to say such hurtful and degrading things to her in person? I know I would not attack even someone I disliked as I’ve seen her be attacked in a number of places and ways.
#3 No, it may seem as if I completely endorse everything Taylor does and her music. I do not. She has flaws, one of which is she does not have the strongest voice and that is the first place most go when they want to demean what she does. Some of her songs are fluffy yes, but the same is true of any other musical artist out there. Some of Taylor’s songs that are released to singles are not her best in terms of depth of meaning and impact, but that’s always been true in music. The puclic likes a catchy tune and catchy rhyme and most of the time anything deeper has less success on the charts. I have heard a number of Taylor’s unreleased songs that show incredible maturity and depth especially for the time she wrote them. People critisize her for writing mainly about boys and love. I’d venture to say 95% of the music of any artist out there, especially the popular ones, is about love and lack of it and about someone you want to be with or can’t get, or about sex. So I think that criticism of her is a bit overused and unfounded.
#4 Its true I’m a man, and nearly middle-aged so I can’t look at love or relationships or boys from a teenage girl’s perspective. I can only look at how love and need and desire affect me as a human being, and that reaction is basically universal at it’s core in all humans of either sex, in my own opinion. I believe that desire/passion/need for another and the attaining of that other person or rejection or loss of them create identical emotions in everyone at any age and any sex. This connection with others is not everything in a human being’s life, but it’s a huge part of it. These emotions and reactions and feelings are at the core of what our surface reactions and behaviours are in my opinion, and if that premise is correct then songs that express these “surface” emotions have a very important part in any person’s life. At different points in a person’s life they need ways (songs or other means) to express and release emotions from loss to euphoria and exultation. Aside from all of this, I think there is actual depth to some of Taylor’s songs that goes beyond what many people hear that are just casual listeners, the same as most people that hear “Poker Face” just hear the catchy rhythm and lyrics, and other Gaga and Beyonce songs. If you are a fan of their’s of course you would know every lyric and see the nuances that others don’t, the same way I listen to Mozart and Beethoven and hear why they used violin or cello or piano for a particular passage; those instruments create the sound and the connection in the way the composer wished his listener to hear. Taylor does the same thing with her lyrics and her music, and so do many other artists and writers.
Don’t get me started on John Mayer, I’ve never been a fan, I find him gross and crude, tho a great musician. And its funny you mention him, I believe he and Taylor are actually involved in more than friendship and I don’t think that’s a good thing for her at all. I could be wrong but I expect it to all be made public in the next couple months. It will be interesting to see what feminists and those that see her as a fairytale-believing princess type have to say about that.
Regarding your statement that there is more than meets the eye in her lyrics, I agree, its just we disaggree on what is below the surface of her lyrics. I don’t think there is anti-feminism or bashing of other women or holding up a relationship with a guy as the ultimate goal. I get the feeling that you perhaps do. I apologize if I’m wrong and am misreading what you have been saying.
I guess what I was trying to say by asking if you could look at it from a perspective was assume for just a while that Taylor’s lyrics are deeper than they appear (in some songs, not all) and that they have a positive message of empowerment. I suppose that is asking an awful lot of anyone, since I would find it hard to adopt the opposite view i.e. the view that her lyrics and the messages beneath them are bad for young women and society. It intrigues me though so I believe I will try to do just that.
My apologies to anyone that finds what I’ve written tedious or offensive, as I said I’m not a writer so I find it hard to express myself in this way.
Just butting in a second, kanye-style, to say that I was just linked over to this article and decided to be brave and read the comments. “Brave” because on most blogs and articles posted on the internet, I find that the comments end up being back and forth insult matches or political rants, neither having anything to do with the original article. It’s been refreshing – and affirming of my faith in humanity – to read the comments on this article, especially those that have been a discussion back and forth between Matt and riese. Thank you to both of you for being (*gasp*) respectful human beings having a civil discussion of your opposing views on the internet.
I really really agree. I was very hesitant to read the comments – and there are SO MANY of them! – but I’ve done nothing else this morning besides read comments and compose my own. I was linked here too, and it is so nice to end up in a corner of the internets where people are smart, literate, thoughtful and articulate.
thank you bk broiler (love your sandwich!) and roxy throatpunch (love everything about you really!)
b/c this is an important point i would like to make w/r/t anything i have ever said or done on the internet:
Would all those same people if they actually knew and talked with her be able to say such hurtful and degrading things to her in person? I know I would not attack even someone I disliked as I’ve seen her be attacked in a number of places and ways.
I know you weren’t talking about me here, but LET THE RECORD SHOW that I would LOVE to sit down with T-Swift and ask her these questions to her face. That’s why we interviewed Tila Tequila, I was like, “let’s stop speculating and just call that girl and ask her ourselves!” and so Lola did!
I’ve never said anything about anyone that I wouldn’t say or ask to their face on this website. 100%. I mean, I’ve always been the girl who volunteers to go confront whomever it is that all our friends are having issues with; whenever possible I go to the source.
…I’m at a loss for words.
I’m in love with this article.
I needed this article more than a big cup of coffee this afternoon.
I’ve never commented before but this article is so necessary/freaking awesome that I feel the need to. I was on a university soccer team and was made to listen to her music all the time when we travelled everywhere and I wanted to jam a screwdriver in my ear drum to make it stop. I heard she won a Grammy and was absolutely appalled. There is nothing progressive/original/intelligent about her songs and trust me I heard pretty much all of them. I never had much respect for award shows anyway but now I have zero appreciation for them. Swift winning the grammy was like a celebration of gender-role enforcing mediocrity. I’m really worried for the younger generation when they have role models like this.
I agree with this: “Swift winning the grammy was like a celebration of gender-role enforcing mediocrity.”! YES!
Whether or not someone thinks Gaga has succeeded or made good art, I just think that it’s more important for women to value women artists who are attempting to do something complicated and forward-thinking. Why award someone who’s doing good for her age, or who puts music to sort of tired cliches about boys. I think we should have more ambitious, progressive (as you said) role models than that.
So thank yOU!
I always check the alt tags on your images. They’re fun.
There are not enough expletives to do justice to the perfection that is this article!
SUPERBLY stated! I’ve never even paid any attention to Swift, and WOW! now I’m so glad I haven’t. I thank the universe that my daughter has never embraced this puritanical pablum. She can crank up the volume on My Chem any time she wants. =)
I like Taylor Swift. She has feel good music that’s fun and carefree and at times sincere. She probably is aware that her music is as shallow as a puddle but she’s at least not trying to be anything that she’s not. I believe most of her music is relatable. As for comparing her to Lady Gaga… I’m not quite sure if there is even much of a difference between the two artists. Lady Gaga sings about “just dancing”, paparazzi (and if this song isn’t completely boy/girl/whatever obsessive, I don’t know what is), and Bad Romance is a series of grunts half the time! I can understand that Taylor Swift shouldn’t have won Best Album as her predecessors had actual talent, but I don’t think Swift can be completely discredited for whatever talent she does have.
She may portray men as angels or godly, but she also shows them as deceitful (eg You Should’ve Said No, Picture To Burn, You’re Not Sorry). Yes, she’s boy-obsessive and this does limit her range of linguistic style but, in the end, she puts out a good product.
What I’m trying to say is that while you’re article brings up some good points, it is pretty dismissive about the quality of Taylor Swift. And as for how she projects gender stereotypes… It is taken too literal. Taylor Swift is nothing but a symbol for all girls feeling insecure or geeky and although she puts on specs and puts up her hair, that is not a literal show of how a traditional geek is. It is merely a symbol that represents girls who are in that situation whether it be a geek competing with someone who is prettier than they are or a random shy loner who competes with someone more outgoing. In that respect, it’s pretty identifiable.
An excellant read, but judging by some comments, the original point I feel you were making has gotten pushed slightly aside. Firstly I love Gaga and yes both Cd’s of the Fame Monster have been in my player since I bought it and THEY’RE STAYING THERE!! That’s not to say I hate or dislike Taylor, she’s ok,if people love her stuff then good for her/them…But getting back to the point, personally I can’t wait for the Brit Awards because Lady Gaga is up for 3,Best International Female, International Album and is ONLY pitched against Swift in the International Breakthrough Act, but wait for it…that one is voted for by MTV viewers, which kinda unerves me because of ‘Kanye-gate’…so it should be interesting how our British industry votes on the other 2 categories, but I like to think that are music industry is a bit more open minded, than some countries,hint, hint Brit Award voting panel (I have faith in you, so please do not fail me)…please though, if Swift wins can I call on Autostraddle for therapy?!!
For the record, I like Taylor’s music. Like Riese, I wouldn’t change the radio station if she came on. I even have a couple songs on my iPod. But I feel the same way about Taylor as I do about Katy Perry: those songs are damn catchy but sooooo shallow. I think Taylor’s message & its larger implications, not the musical quality of her work, is what this article is criticizing. So it seems to me that all the comments arguing that Taylor is talented are a bit off point. Of course she is; the issue at hand is bigger than her talent.
Either way, I agree totally with the points made here. Her themes are so regressive and repetitive. I’m sure some high school girls have those feelings, but 1) Taylor wasn’t one of those girls and 2) that’s probably just a product of girls being exposed to fairy tales their entire lives. I’d much rather celebrate music that forces young girls to realize there is a bigger world beyond high school and boys, rather than music that induces navel gazing and a loop of the same immature feelings.
YES SARAH YES!
…and I would add 3) that this does have real world implications. when girls are convinced that their sexual feelings are shameful or boy-like, those feelings get pushed into the realm of secrecy and privacy. This is the realm where (like abstinence-only education) the effects on women include: teenagers being too ashamed or confused to talk to adults about being sexually active (and therefore not getting the birth control and STD protection information), girls being mean to other girls who do have sex (slut-shaming) and furthermore feeling such behavior towards other women is acceptable b/c taylor sings sweet songs about it and everyone loves taylor (even mom! even the grammys!), and lastly not feeling entitled to sexual pleasure. the consequences of that range from women who just never feel pleasure or ask for reciprocal attention from their boyfrends to women who — WHAT’S UP QUEERS — don’t even know that they’re lesbians until they’re 27, cuz no one ever told them sex could be fun so they never though anything of the fact that their boyfriends wanted something that they didn’t want. I know that’s obviously a “stretch” so I should stress I’m not suggesting a one-to-one correlation here, but simply adding another consequence to the big barrel of consequences that sex-shaming has for young women.
i realize this is sticky territory, and I think when writing this i assumed people would make the next logical step towards what the consequences of sex-shaming and slut-shaming are. but um, yeah, like you said it seems like people seem to be missing the point.
Love love LOVE this!
“That’s right. All Abigail had was her hymen.” – this was my favorite out of the entire article.
Also, perhaps if teenage girls stopped listening to taylor swift and read a book the challenged them once in a while, then just may be they may stop treating themselves and each other the way they do. Perhaps, they would take control of their lives and sexualities instead of allowing someone else to control them. this may be asking too much.
I don’t think Taylor Swift is the reason Teenage girls don’t read books and don’t challenge or think for themselves. I think both boys and girls since time began have struggled with finding themselves and their sexuality and adolescence. 15 years or so ago the babysitter’s club books were huge along with many other questionable influences and I venture to say that it’s been that way throughout history.
The same is true for the other side of the equation too..the beatles and Elvis were condemned as being terrible influences on society and youth because what they did changed society. I’m not equating Taylor with either of those, though her influence and impact on music and society is definately real; but like them there is a big debate on whether what she does is positive or negative on those that admire her. The view that seems to be most vocally and passionatly expressed right now seem to see that influence as negative.
wow, talk about late to the party…
first of all, riese: bra-fuckin’-vo on the article
secondly, matt: you kinda rock for being so passionate but respectful in your opposition to / cautious consideration of this article
if i may just add: Matt’s comparison to the Beatles/Elvis/etc is pretty interesting for a few reasons. and i think a lot of it comes down to our culture RIGHT NOW. the beatles and elvis were artists during revolutionary times. i think it’s safe to say, with such a hotly debated president and the same-sex marriage issue at the forefront of our political landscape, that these are times of comparative change for America. but here’s the thing… and the reason, perhaps, that AS and Riese are in Gaga’s corner: Elvis (with his snarl and gyrating hips) and the Beatles (with their rakish looks, drug-induced lyrics and “noise”) were the sound of the REVOLUTION. Taylor Swift is not. her lyrics are sweet. i’ll sing along to her music and acknowledge that she makes broadly appealing pop-country music, but she is certainly not ground-breaking in the way the Elvis or the Beatles moved music (and youth) forward. and that’s not to say Taylor Swift is a bad person or even a bad entertainer; but it probably helps explain why people are so divided over her work. that inexplicable passion over, OF ALL PEOPLE, Taylor Swift comes down to either conservative OR progressive sentiments. that’s why TS can’t vote for Obama AND have the adoration of her Middle-America fanbase. or why TS adheres so closely to well-tread gender-roles and constructs of “family”. and it’s also why Gaga has become the champion of this website’s writers/designers and lots of other marginalized readers.
reflecting for a sec… all those sentences at the end of my last post were written very definitively and are somewhat presumptuous. they are meant more as theoretical statements. AS probs loves Gaga for way more reasons than b/c this is a progressive website. i mean, her music is rad. she’s entertaining and, freakishly, hot. plus, on the flip-side, i know lots of life-long republicans that will listen to (and admit liking) Gaga in the same way lots of people on this site will admit to liking Swift’s music. so – like Riese said a gazillion comments ago – the two entertainers and trains of thought are not mutually exclusive. it’s the trend we’re all concerned about. ;)
mere84 i like what you said and if my brain was bigger i would have more to say than that.
Also, for me, in Gaga’s favor, I do think she can be seriously dissected. Especially if you look at her videos. I am not wise in these ways, but my stepmom is an editor/reader for a few indie poetry/writing mags, was a lit major, etc. And we were listening to Paparazzi and she managed to take it apart lyric by lyric and decided that it was a warning against sleeping with fans, lest ye be stalked. When we saw the video, that was pretty much decided. Bad Romance is about the music industry. The whole monster motif is about what fame does to people. So if you are wise in the way of lyrics/images, I think it would be possible to talk about what she’s really talking about. I’m not sure that’s possible with Tay Swift. At least, said stepmom never brought anything up with Love Story that way she did Paparazzi.
Thanks for the compliment. I think I understand what you are saying as far as Taylor not being the voice of the revolution in during these current societal changes. On the other hand, I don’t think that’s what she tries for; she tries only to be her own voice, and that voice just happens to resonate with millions of girls (and others) She is the voice of millions who have experienced hurt and hope and dreams, and I think there is a need for someone to be that voice as well as a need for the kind of confrontation and ability to disrupt complacency that people like Gaga and Kanye and others provide. I saw several comments that some people don’t get what this article is saying, I hope I’m not one of them. I realize that Riese isn’t arguing Taylor has no talent, just the validity and content and purpose of her songs and lyrics. My own belief and arguement is that there is a need and a place for lyrics and examples like Taylor. During any revolution militant or pacifisitic, there are the exponents of complete change with no regard to any existing norms or established traditions, but that sort of totalistic abolishment of everything a society is founded on is dangerous not only to the existing society but also to those orchestrating the changes, and to the people they want to affect. There is need for both those carrying brand new ideas and for those that maintain a stability and normalcy in society and government while new ideas are being tested and implemented. Otherwise you have the Soviet Union, or post-reign of terror France. Granted some would argue with me on both points, but I believe good and perhaps better results could have been achieved if less violent and less total chaotic means had been used.
Also I find it kind of ironic that people view Taylor as a fundamental repressed puritan type of victorian princess. I’ve followed her career since before she had a record deal and neither she nor her parents fit that mold. Taylor is very openly accepting of both the gay community and of liberal thinking, she sings along to Gaga and Jayz and Drake, she watches the Tudors and True Blood on a regular basis (and if you know those shows, you know she’s no retiring mouse when it comes to sexual awareness) People assume because she left public school at 16 and finished her courses from a christian school that that shaped her into a little puritan, but she did her school work on the road, with her band of people in their 30s and 40s who were all weathered Nashville musicians. If you havn’t before, I suggest you listen to her quote Stevie Wonder’s speech the night Obama was elected president. She remembered it word for word and quoted it on the Ryan Seacrest show the next day. I think it shows without a doubt that she supported and voted for Obama. you can listen to it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9fCog5V2GI
Matt, I’m fairly certain I misspoke in my earlier comment – referring to you as “Mike.” Apologies. You’re awesome and your comments have been a highlight of this discussion for me. Rock on.
The book just shouldn’t be Twilight
I think it’s interesting that topic of young women not finding out early enough that they are gay. Afterellen wrote a blog about Taylor’s SNL sketch Roomies, and the author of that blog indicated that any young woman that wasn’t sure if she was gay should watch that clip, because it answers those questions.
And another interesting thing, someone in the comments there claimed that they knew her and she was actually a pillow lesbian in high school. I seriously doubt that claim myself, but then who knows. If she was she definately has more experience and scope than some give her credit for.