Being a pop star used to be so much easier.
Record a half dozen hummable songs. Wear the trendiest clothes. Say nice things about your fans. Shake off a mini scandal will a well-orchestrated shrug. And, best of all, collect gobs and gobs of money.
Rather, rinse, repeat …if you’re lucky. For every Madonna there’s hundreds of one-hit wonders touring a beer festival near you.
Tell that to Taylor Swift. She’s trying so very hard to live out the pop star life. Only certain elements of the press demand something else.
Today’s journalists won’t ask hard-hitting questions to select presidents. They will grill pop stars, though. That’s especially true if they don’t toe the progressive line.
Swift learned that the hard way when she tried to avoid the partisan divide during the 2016 Presidential Election. While her peers (Katy Perry, Beyonce) lectured us on how to vote, Swift stayed silent. Her most political moment? Sharing a picture of her on voting day, letting fans know she did her civic duty.
That wasn’t good enough.
Some outlets snarled that her apolitical pose was a vote for Donald Trump. Did that make a lick of sense? No. Those reporters didn’t care, apparently.
More recently, Swift got slammed for not denouncing white supremacists. It’s true that some racist groups treat her like a goddess. So what? And why should she have to release a statement asserting their vile status? Must she do the same with assorted racists, murderers and goons? Is that the new normal?
The Daily Beast urged Swift to speak out in the wake of the Charlottesville, Va. protests which left one woman dead.
Now, Buzzfeed has upped the ante against the singer in the grossest way possible. And that’s not hyperbole. The site’s disgusting article is titled, “Taylor Swift’s Persona Is Not Built for 2017.”
Yes, it’s already awful. Things are just warming up, witness the even worse subhed:
In 2017, Swift is still absenting herself from the cultural conversation while simultaneously trying to center herself in it.
All Swift had to do is give one single shout out to Hillary Clinton or Black Lives Matter and she would have been absolved. She didn’t, so it’s time to attack.
So where’s the “full racist” part? Buckle up.
Move over a little from there and you’ll find Swift’s image itself — willowy, blonde, and aggressively white. Perhaps, in an awkward corner close by, are the white supremacist fans who’ve claimed her as a figurehead. In any blank space, you’ll find her political silence and her idiosyncratic ways of communicating with the public. Somewhere scattered among all this is her actual music — as genre-torn as ever, but permanently catchy.
Let’s play a simple game. Try to get a story published that describes a person of color’s image as “aggressively brown.” How fast will that editor lose your contact information? And rightly so.
Yet this drivel is considered woke today. May 2018 bring an end to that poisonous word. As for everything else, a pop singer sharing “permanently catchy” songs is now under attack.
Naturally, Buzzfeed doubled down on the Nazi card. This is 2017, after all.
The Nazi connection is not one Swift has ever courted, at least not in any active, provable, or logically tangible way. But it’s not one she can seem to shake off, either.
Why? Because the writer and folks like her make that connection. That’s all you need to slam someone as a Nazi sympathizer in 2017.
All together now, “that’s why Trump won…”
The Buzzfeed piece is even angry that Team Swift is suing a journalist for directly tying her to the Nazi movement. But Buzzfeed isn’t alone in weaponizing the singer’s skin color. Consider this “think” piece:
Why I’m Afraid of White Women … and Taylor Swift
Yes, that’s an actual headline for an actual story on the Internet. That’s where we are in race relations today. Once again, let’s imagine a column with the races reversed and see where that goes.
Fast Company also joined the “slam Swift” brigade recently. The publication said it’s perfectly reasonable for a pop star to keep her politics to herself. Under ordinary conditions, mind you.
But, cue the dramatic music, in the “Age of Trump” that’s no longer an option.
…She’s not obligated to publicize her political views. She doesn’t have to tell us who she voted for or what she thinks of DACA. But neo-Nazism is so extreme, it’s outside of politics. It’s a matter of human decency. In the past, I’ve been the kind of Taylor Swift fan who has supported her right to privacy. That notion is respectable in theory. But this is 2017, and in an America that’s splitting under the weight of systemic racism, fake news, predatory men, and gun violence, the rules are different.
Actually, they’re not. Want a really hot take? If President Rubio were in office many of these outlets would be begging Swift to attack him, too.
Turns out the real cultural problem in 2017 is a pop star who brings joy to millions telling fans how to think, act and vote. There oughtta be a law against Swift’s ilk.
Maybe there will be by 2019. Or earlier.