Recently, I retched. There’s just no nicer way to put it.
I spent all day yesterday vomiting violently. More on this later. Also yesterday, I went to see Taylor Swift at Staples. This was not the cause of my emetic event. Actually, that was a great time! I was so grateful to my boyfriend for bringing me along, and I’ll remember her show, and all the songs of her oeuvre that I just learned, so fondly.
I’m really happy for you and imma let you finish … obligatory. But I have a few concerns about the Taylor Swift Machine. I remember the first time I heard “Our Song” on the radio back in 2007. I was working at Entertainment Tonight at the time, so my coworkers were a veritable army of pop culture experts/tastemakers. After catching just a few bars of her song on the radio during my commute, I went right to the resident teeny bopper expert, Katie, and pumped her for information about this Taylor Swift person. (This was before I became a trawler of ONTD.) The girl has clearly got charisma, talent and billion-dollar racounteur skills to spare.
I’m forming an increasingly troubled outlook on Swift’s faux-doe expressions and mounting list of sponsorships. If I had a dollar for every time she disingenuously proclaimed last night, all wide-eyed, “Thank you for hanging out with me on a Tuesday!” it would surely rival her windfall from shilling Keds by Taylor Swift™.
So, to summarize Taylor Swift in concert: faux-doe and faux-fundity. Faux-fundity is what I call her fake attempts to be profound: ridiculous “let’s just chat, girl to girl” talking breaks in which she rambled nonsensically about teen-nebulous catch-all concepts such as Boys Suck, Emotions are Hard and Love is Real. I could certainly see myself drinking that Kool-Aid, had it been delivered with just a dash of subtlety and/or self-awareness. As it was, all I got was generally inscrutable marmoreal mugging, incoherent video reels and a big sweep of dirty blonde bangs (though, as I noted to my boyfriend as we strolled under the giant, Thought Police-esque Taylor Swift for Diet Coke® light-up billboards around the plaza — she has a really pretty hair color and I wish more Hollywood types would embrace a naturalistic dirty blonde instead of the utterly improbable, visually aggressive platinum).
In summary, I’m just kind of scared of her. I’ve had my eye on her ever since her 2010 song “Mean.” It’s very catchy and uplifting. And I teared up when she performed it at the Grammys and changed the lyrics to say “One day I’ll be singing this at the Grammys.” That is so “The Secret”! Who wouldn’t get goosebumps? But wait, let’s take a step back. She supposedly wrote the song in reference to being panned for her duet with Stevie Nicks at the Grammys 2 years prior.
Come on, Swift. No need to dwell on the truly sub-amateur shower level of that “Rhiannon” performance. We all have off-days. Can’t you just take your lumps and move on? Were I her adviser, I’d have suggested one of the following diversionary tactics, post gaffe:
1. A hoedown/hollow apology combo
2. Ridiculous but effective “Prove ‘Em Wrong!” moment
3. Well-timed PR diversion tactic
So OK, it’s nice that she sublimated her chastened feeling with a work of art. So far, so good. But have you listened to the lyrics of this song? For background, she’s responding to a critic, who among other things (many of them congratulatory!), noted that she can’t sing. Basic aural man-on-the-street analysis. No ad hominems, no commentary on her increasingly suspect showmances, etc.
But instead of humming “sticks and stones can break my bones …” to herself, she wrote the lyric: “You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard /
Calling me out when I’m wounded / You, picking on the weaker man.”
Wait, what? She’s likening herself to “the weaker man.” Hm, OK. But what in particular inspired her to write this? Was it a review in The New York Times? Was it some well-timed backhanded compliment by a powerful music industry frenemy in the cutthroat, glitter-speckled back corridors of Hollywood?
No. IT WAS A BLOG POST.
Freaking nutjob! Also, she tries to win our confidence with the “Stars! They’re Just Like Us” lyrics: “You, with your switching sides / And your wildfire lies and your humiliation / You have pointed out my flaws again / As if I don’t already see them.”
Let’s unpack this:
1. She says “You, with your switching sides … ” as though wishy-washiness is but one of this tormentor’s fatal flaws. When we return to the post in question, we see that indeed there is some waffling there — because the blogger introduces his criticism with the following:
“Fearless” deserved to win Album of the Year. I was glad it did. … I love “Fearless”. You can play it from start to finish, again and again, it’s honest.
Does this sound like niceness-with-ulterior motive, though? Like when Regina George told Cady she was pretty but then got accusatory when Cady said thanks? Er, Taylor, I don’t think so. I think he’s just trying that silly “sandwich method” of burying an insult in a compliment. But the compliment still sounds pretty genuine.
2. “You have pointed out my flaws again / As if I don’t already see them.” Aw, she’s so modest! She hasn’t let fame get to her head! … That’s what she wants us to think. But then she closes out the song with “All you are is mean / And a liar, and pathetic, and alone in life.” So which is it? Did the tormentor perspicaciously zoom in on her Achilles heel, which she was well aware of and working to improve (“as if I don’t already see them”)? Or did he just straight-up fabricate an insult out of thin air just to be vicious (“all you are is … a liar”)? This is some shadiness and flip-flopping worthy of an OJ trial, Swift.
3. “All you are is … alone in life.” Taylor, rude. You’re a young, hot white girl with enviable proportions and a pretty hair shade. Leave the sad blogger’s marital status out of this.
Thanks to the omnipresent Jumbotrons at Staples, I was free to scrutinize every emotion flickering across Taylor’s remarkably pore-free face (Easy, Breezy, Beautiful: Taylor Swift for Covergirl®.) And I know half her songs are bluster, and/or written about intense teen-y subjects just to appeal to the heart tittles crowd. But as she sang that lyric about how the guy was “mean, and a liar, and pathetic, and alone in life,” she seriously had a crazed vengeful face that we last saw on Carrie White post-pigs blood. I’d truly prescribe that she chill her coochie.