By Erin Moyer, Opinion & Editorial Editor ||
Hi, I’m Erin. I love the number 23, for Jim Carrey reasons. I was born in August in a suburb near a city. I like imagining what life was like two weeks ago. I have chronic dry eye. My favorite thing in life is sitting in coffee shops and writing snippy op-eds, which is totally not happening right now. Because, when you really think about it, isn’t life really just one big op-ed waiting to be written?
Now, you are probably wondering why I introduced myself and my column this way. Because it doesn’t. Make. Any. Sense. It does not make sense. We can all agree on that, right? How does stringing together some random, airy facts about my me-essence (messence? Patent pending.) give you the information you need about me and my eventual argument? Now that you know I have dry eye, am I officially modish and whimsical and ethereal and oh-so-indie? Does the fact these are the only details I’m revealing for God knows what reason make me seem like a mysterious, vaguely vintage sprite? Does it make me seem coy? Or perhaps so deep and sagely and cool that the administration officially closed school? Do you now want to listen to a song I wrote about that guy who gave me a weird look that one time? And if not that one, I have a few others kind of similar to it. Let me know.
And, after I went on Taylor Swift’s website, that above paragraph is just one of the several rants that came spewing out of my fingers. In the “About” section of taylorswift.com, the youthful Tswizzle embarks on what should, logically, be a brief autobiography. It is an “About” section on her website, so surely it has relevant details about her, no?
Well, no. Instead of relevant facts about the actual, oh, I don’t know, life and career of Taylor Swift (lol what), she gives her reader 408 words of the mishmash I lampooned in this column’s opening. Rather than detailing her life and rise to fame, Swift decides instead to impart five paragraphs of, um, highly metaphysical gems upon her reader that deal with deep, deep themes, themes far deeper than the sarcasm I am unwelding right now. Here is one such real-life quote off of her website:
“I don’t like it when something or someone turns out to be different than what you originally thought. Like when you’re shopping and you find a really cute dress, only to realize it’s actually a strange jumpsuit situation. But I mostly don’t like it when it happens with people.”
And I bring all of this up now because this posturing as a quirky, America’s sweetheart is driving me insane. Here is what I think of Taylor Swift. I do think Taylor Swift is a talented songwriter. “Back to December” seriously puts a lump in my throat every single time I listen to it on the down low. I do think Taylor Swift understands her genre very well. I do think Taylor Swift is not entirely overrated. Her singing has, er, improved. And I understand why she, a mainstream Southern belle whose appearance and music are both easy to swallow, has become so successful.
But here’s the thing: the reasons she has become so successful are what I find objectionable. And the artist she has to paint herself as in recent years — an angsty millennial hopelessly driven by her heart and style of a bygone age — is an untrue, tremendously disingenuous falsehood. The image she’s selling is phony, and I’m sick of people buying it. Including Taylor Swift herself.
Let me start with the biggest fallacy of the Taylor Swift narrative: she is just like us. She’s quirky, too!! She likes TV! And cats! Hey, sometimes even she gets her heart broken! And, she even gets sad about it. Like an actual human and everything.
Now, to be clear, I’m not trying to discount the fact that Taylor Swift is, in fact, a 24 year-old American woman. This checks out as entirely true. You win that one, Tswizzle. Honestly, I do believe she goes through many of the same trials and tribulations all young adults do: she plainly doesn’t feel great about her love life, and it seems as though she’s struggling with how to identify herself as a new member of this bracing adult world. I do believe she goes through these kinds of personal crises all the time, the way any person growing up anywhere, anytime, surely will.
But what I don’t believe is that her struggles are all that relatable, and she should stop trying to sell them as though they are. I want her to stop pretending she’s lost in this world, the way so many twentysomethings are. I want her to stop using lines like “there are too many cool kids,” as she does in “22,” because, obviously, she is one of the coolest kids. I wish she’d stop pretending she has no clue where her life will go because, obviously, she’s set for life.
And don’t get me wrong: I am aware that every artist constructs a narrative around his or her self and that those images are not entirely real. I get why Taylor Swift would pretend to be a wandering post-grad in a “miserable and magical” world. She’s trying to tap into this quirky, Girls-esque, millennial angst, and she has no right to it. I will listen to this narrative from Lena Dunham, not from a multiplatinum recording artist
Because the truth is, Taylor Swift has rich white girl problems and a rich white girl life. And I, as a middle class white girl with equally insignificant problems, am personally sick of hearing about both. I get that her life can be “hard.” But so far as we think, all of our lives are hard. And as far as the cards of fate can be divyed out, I think she, tall, blonde, blue-eyed, with awards, acclaim, and hundreds of millions of dollars to her name, got dealt a pretty great hand. If her life were actually that hard, would she not have something to fill her repertoire other than a laundry list of bad break-ups? It bothers me that she gets to stake a claim to the instability she’s never had to live just because it’s trendy and been selling well. Quit pretending you’re anything less than successfully, comfortably mainstream, Tswiz. It’s offensive to the rest of us. You are the human version of that “bizarre jumpsuit situation.” I know you have the right to feel 22 like anyone else, but I’m just going to have to ask you to keep it to yourself.
Erin Moyer, the Opinions and Editorials editor, is a sophomore American Studies major. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org