It's not all her fault, but Swift is the perfect avatar for celebrity worship gone awry.
Taylor Swift is a pretty pop superstar who sings pretty pop songs.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Once upon a time, that description would stand tall without qualifiers.
Swift must be much more in today’s hyper-political climate. The singer resisted that urge until she finally spoke out on issues with no ties to her skill set.
She epitomizes everything that’s wrong with celebrity culture. Let’s count the ways.
It all stars with Swift keeping silent during the 2016 presidential campaign. Chances are her legion of fans didn’t demand she take sides in the race for the White House. The mainstream media, by stark comparison, blew a collective gasket.
Why won’t she take a stand, they cried in near unison, as if she were the preeminent political scientist of our times, not a chipper pop goddess.
Of course, what the biased press actually meant was, “why won’t she endorse Hillary Clinton?”
It’s not hard to read between the lines. Heck, The Daily Beast once spelled it out for readers.
The country crossover phenomenon has spent her extremely successful career trying to figure how a star in the social media age can stand for absolutely nothing. And that’s not as easy as it sounds. A-listers have been dragged for their inability to hashtag Black Lives Matter and for their MAGA hats. On the other end of the spectrum, stars are often celebrated for throwing fundraising concerts for progressive candidates or teaming up with Bernie Sanders on Twitter.
It’s not as overt an admission of bias as that leaked New York Times confab, but it’s close.
Last year, Swift finally relented. She endorsed two Democratic candidates and vowed to use her voice for something beyond her day job. In recent weeks, Swift turned up the volume. She kicked off a firestorm with the release of her music video for “You Need to Calm Down.”
The pro-LGBT video, and its accompanying lyrics, did the opposite. Red State fans recoiled at the nasty stereotypes showcased in the clip. Progressives were even colder, complaining the video proved “problematic.”
She hijacked queerness, they cried. Literally.
That’s just part of the problem with Taylor Swift 2.0, and why the new model brings out the worst in the culture. Her latest comments are her own fault, but partly ours for caring in the first place.
She recently said she stayed out of the 2016 presidential race because Donald Trump was weaponizing celebrity endorsements. Had she been “with Her” he would have used it against Hillary Clinton, or so Trump’s 4D chess play went.
Her most recent interview reveals multiple new excuses for not speaking out. She says she stayed out of the fray because she was going through a rough time, personally.
“It became really terrifying for anyone to even know where I was. And I felt completely incapable of doing or saying anything publicly, at all. Even about my music. I always said I wouldn’t talk about what was happening personally, because that was a personal time.” She won’t get into specifics. “I just need some things that are mine,” she despairs. “Just some things.”
Later, she says coming from the country music realm taught her to steer clear of politics. Remember those Dixie Chicks?
But wait … there’s even more excuses.
“And then, you know, if there was a time for me to get involved…” Swift pauses. “The worst part of the timing of what happened in 2016 was I felt completely voiceless. I just felt like, oh God, who would want me? Honestly.” She would otherwise have endorsed Hillary Clinton? “Of course,” she says sincerely. “I just felt completely, ugh, just useless. And maybe even like a hindrance.”
Well, which story is it? This pop superstar doesn’t even know herself. And why should we care about her political views again, given her own confusion?
It gets worse.
Swift’s political conversations to date have been, and this is being kind, underwhelming. She sounds like an MSNBC guest the producers decide not to have back on mid-appearance. Here’s one example:
“The things that happen to you in your life are what develop your political opinions. I was living in this Obama eight-year paradise of, you go, you cast your vote, the person you vote for wins, everyone’s happy!” she says. “This whole thing, the last three, four years, it completely blindsided a lot of us, me included.”
Is she 29 or, like 14? Does she realize how the country works? Sometimes your politician wins … sometimes he or she loses. Grow up.
A second Guardian feature on Swift finds her even more befuddled about the state of the nation. It starts, of course, with Trump-bashing.
“We’re a democracy – at least, we’re supposed to be – where you’re allowed to disagree, dissent, debate. I really think that [Trump] thinks this is an autocracy.”
What country is Swift currently living in? The Left is out to stifle speech across the nation. State the “wrong” opinion, like three-year-olds shouldn’t decide their gender, and you get forced into an apology tour. Share a libertarian thought on any Big Tech platform and you risk getting shadow banned, suspended or booted off, permanently.
Give a conservative talk on a university campus and you better duck. Every other week the Left insists a Fox News personality must be kicked off the air.
The Left’s war on open debate is no secret, but perhaps it hasn’t pierced Swift’s celebrity bubble. That’s fine. Let her marinate in her cultural ignorance.
It still brings back the same question. Why should anyone care about her political views?
She’s allowed to have them, to share them, to write checks on their behalf. Who thinks they deserve more weight than that? Some progressive stars can be eloquent about the causes they espouse. She hardly qualifies, at least not yet.
There’s another toxic side to Swift’s political awakening, and it hits closer to home. Swift’s father, Scott Swift, took down his Facebook page after users discovered, gasp, right-leaning content on it.
But before Scott’s Facebook was deleted, screenshots were taken of what were claimed to be political posts including right-leaning memes about immigration and one refusing to acknowledge Elizabeth Warren as a Senator.
The Daily Mail says it reached out to the singer for comment but got no response.
Why wouldn’t Swift defend her own father? Why couldn’t he hold political views that differ from hers? So much for that whole “disagree, debate, dissent” routine.
Put it all together, and Taylor Swift 2.0 remains a golden-tressed superstar with a penchant for catchy, chart-busting tunes. Beyond that? She captures what’s wrong with celebrity culture circa 2019.