Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Good on ya, Swift

Taylor Swift is a woman who gets a lot of flak. She's pretty, young and writes about the men she's dated. GASP! I've never spent much time on Swift and the musing surrounding her, but today I took some pause.
I'll get to that in a bit.

Initially onlookers applauded her for her daring ability to write about former partners as if it was a new concept. I think it's great that she uses music as an outlet. I imagine there are other things that are on her mind -- such as record sales -- ticket sales -- listening ears. Amongst all that, there are these songs that seem to mean something to her. This is wonderful but she did not invent the wheel, nor is she reinventing it. It's amazing to me that crowds upon crowds speak of her as if she's doing something unique. There are zillions of known and unknown artists before her that have been doing this through song, poetry and other mediums.

I personally find Swift's music to be less than desirable: it's not my tea. Part of my distaste for the music I've been exposed to is the over-simplicity of her lyrics. Swift is a 23 year old woman and from the outside looking in, she seems to be a very young 23.

I don't want to make too many assumptions as I do not know Swift on a personal level, but I do know that the poetry I wrote at 23 (some of it good, some of it...huh?, some of it bad bad bad) was nothing like some of Swift's hollow and surfaced writing.

We are never ever ever getting back together,
We are never ever ever getting back together,
You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me
But we are never ever ever ever getting back together

Like, ever...

23?? In my mind the lyrics reflect a teeny-bopper.  The word "like" often murders any point a person can make. My goal is not to beat her up too much but rather to explain how she impressed me despite my distaste for her music and seeming persona.

Per Hollywood trash mag, US Weekly and newspaper LA Times, Swift responded to harsh criticism from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler  in the April issue of Vanity Fair. The criticisms via these comediennes came in the form of supposed levity. The two were co-hosts of the recent January Golden Globe awards where they made jokes about the many boyfriends Swift has had. Swift response couldn't have been more perfect.

"For a female to write about her feelings, and then be portrayed as some clingy, insane, desperate girlfriend in need of making you marry her and have kids with her, I think that's taking something that potentially should be celebrated -- a woman writing about her feelings in a confessional way --that's taking it and turning it and twisting it into something that is frankly a little sexist."

Good on ya, Swift. 

Swift said that Katie Couric relayed a quote to Swift that she very much admired: "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." Couric told Swift that she couldn't remember where she had heard it, but it seemed to aid the frustrated country-pop star. 

There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women is authored by former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. As an engaging feminist I had known this. I knew this not simply because Albright has repeated this line when addressing various listening audiences but because this marvelous quote has appeared on t-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers and other novelty items. Although this may seem to cheapen or make light of the quote, I think it's a good one to spread around; a good one for Swift to carry in her pocket. Jumping on board with this quote does not mean that one cannot have an opinion about another woman's behavior, but it does encourage some introspection, reflection and empathy.

So whether you like or hate Swift, she has offered perspective with her above comment. It is a request to consider loosening the grip of damning certainty that her lyrics -- lyrics that reflect pain that would not be identified as weak if sung by a man -- makes her a pathetic female figure.

Swift will go forward making her like-like music and hopefully she will make more of it if it suits her, if it helps her heal. As mentioned earlier, her tunes aren't my tea, but the world is much larger than me and my tea cup.

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