Unless you're living under a rock, you probably know that Taylor Swift is political.
She has made abundantly clear in the last year that she wants her music, her fans, and her persona to be political. As someone who used to like Swift's music (I admit it!), I started to listen less as she moved toward the pop genre. It wasn't my thing, and the innocence and sweetness of her original music began to fade into the past. The things that made songs like "Love Story" so relatable took a backseat to her new sound. I also use to love Swift's style. She would wear cute outfits that I would try and replicate at home - outfits that were close to being modest, if not entirely so. As her music changed, so did her fashion sense.
None of that influenced my feelings toward Taylor Swift as an artist. She had chosen a path that I didn't appreciate as much, but that many other people did. Fair enough.
But in Taylor's newest album, she has unequivocally decided to alienate half of the country.
It began with the music video for "You Need to Calm Down." A portrayal of a political position was watered down to a caricature, a group of hill-billy rednecks holding misspelled signs. "You hold that position? The only person who would hold that position would look a little something like this," the video seemed to exclaim.
Then came her interview with Rolling Stone.
This interview blew me away. Here's a quote: "I do think, as a party, we need to be more of a team. With Republicans, if you’re wearing that red hat, you’re one of them. And if we’re going to do anything to change what’s happening, we need to stick together. We need to stop dissecting why someone’s on our side or if they’re on our side in the right way or if they phrased it correctly. We need to not have the right kind of Democrat and the wrong kind of Democrat. We need to just be like, 'You’re a Democrat? Sick. Get in the car. We’re going to the mall.'"
Here's another: "It’s about the illusions of what I thought America was before our political landscape took this turn, and that naivete that we used to have about it. And it’s also the idea of people who live in America, who just want to live their lives, make a living, have a family, love who they love, and watching those people lose their rights, or watching those people feel not at home in their home. I have that line 'I see the high-fives between the bad guys' because not only are some really racist, horrific undertones now becoming overtones in our political climate, but the people who are representing those concepts and that way of looking at the world are celebrating loudly, and it’s horrific."
I have no issue with celebrities having political opinions. In fact, I think that's great! Be informed, learn more about the country we live in, have an understanding of the people that you're voting for. Do those political views need to be embedded into their art? Generally, I would say no, but even on that I can be convinced.
But for Taylor Swift to essentially tell half of her fans that they're not invited to listen to her music? That they're not invited to go "to the mall" with her? That the "bad guys" are in charge, and by extension, if you share their opinions, you too are a bad guy?
That's not political. That's clannish.
Taylor Swift is not trying to convince anyone here. She has taken a side and she is digging her heels in. She's not welcoming political discussion - there is no discussion to be had. There is only right versus wrong, and she's right. But do you know who will follow her example? Young people who don't have a clear idea of their own politics yet, but absolutely don't want to be seen as "not in the cool club" of Taylor Swift.
When I read this article, I felt a little sick to my stomach. We've gotten to a point where the biggest pop singer in the world is telling the country to bisect itself in half and choose a side. No friendly discussions, no meeting of the minds - just pick a side and ignore anyone who challenges your views.
Taylor Swift hasn't given her fans the option to listen to her music despite her politics. She has said, "Listen to me as a Democrat or listen to me as my enemy." I, personally, don't feel too comfortable with that dichotomy, no matter my political views. If someone on either side of the aisle were to dismiss half of Americans as wrong, I would feel incredibly uncomfortable. That was never the purpose of politics - we need both sides to push each other toward an apex of fruitful policy. As I've said before, we're all people, first and foremost. Let's start there.
What do you think? Are you a fan of Taylor Swift? Let me know in the comments below!
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