So I read it, and it made me really sad. And it made me especially sad because watching Taylor Swift's video had made me really, really happy. The video features Taylor trying -- and adorably failing -- at a variety of dance forms, from ballet to hip hop to break dancing to cheerleading to interpretive dance. It's a pretty simple, silly little video, whose point rests in it's contrasts: Taylor sings "I never miss a beat. I'm lightning on my feet," against a backdrop of her falling and failing over and over again. It's a sweet, self-deprecating video that ends by embracing a whole bunch of bad dancers having a great time doing their bad dances. The point of the video, to me, is: you can't make fun of me because I'm making fun of myself.
Simple, right? Harmless? Apparently not. Jezebel attacks Taylor on all kinds of privilege levels -- the video is racially insensitive ("[Taylor crawls] through a bridge of brown and black women’s butts. *surprised Taylor Swift face*") -- and gets after her for having the nerve to release this upbeat video when people are dying in the world. Jezebel writes:
While President Obama was hosting live stream to discuss the protest and gross police conduct in Ferguson, Missouri surrounding the death of Michael Brown, Swift decided to release her new video with her own live stream. . . .Problem is this week is rife with crappy real news that is a stark contrast to her simple pop song.Dear Jezebel: WHAT? Your scathing, petty critique boils down to how DARE a pop star release a pop video during a week when real news happens? Seriously? If I agree with you, does that mean I'm not allowed to listen to anything with a repetitive chorus until ISIS is eliminated? If you agree with yourself, doesn't that mean your paid journalists should be covering Michael Brown and not writing a SCENE BY SCENE critique of the new Taylor Swift video?? WITH FIVE SCREEN SHOTS AND TWO EMBEDDED VIDEOS???
Even the commenters on the Jezebel article raised objections. Here are just two comments (taken out of order) on the article:
It's not the wrong attitude! Not every public figure has to weigh in on every public tragedy! You guys would be so mad if she had something to say about Michael Brown!!
Y'all, I love this video. I didn't feel the need to defend that position until I read this Jezebel article, but I have to say: I'm not much older than Taylor, and I'm frequently sent into horrible multi-day spirals of self-doubt and insecurity over a sideways glance or a recollection of some dumb drunk thing I did. Taylor, who has spent her most awkward formative years having her professional and personal life examined and skewered by less-talented strangers the world over, has made a cheery, fun, light, pop video mocking herself and celebrating the idea that sometimes you just have to weather the criticism, shrug your shoulders, accept your limitations, and dance your own dance. That's a great message, and a nearly impossible thing to do as a young (famous) woman, and I respect the hell out of her for it.
I like Jezebel, I do. I'm a feminist and someone who tries to be thoughtful and discerning and aware in world that has a lot of work to do on patriarchy and privilege. But OMG, guys, you wrote a thought piece hating on a skinny white pop star for being too skinny and too white and too pop-y. What about Taylor Swift, who by all accounts is a strong, self-made, talented woman, who writes and performs her own songs, who has grown up in the public eye and somehow miraculously avoided addiction and young marriage and sex scandals and a MAN, doesn't speak to feminism? Why is she your enemy, Jezebel? Why do you speak with such ridiculous middle school disdain for Taylor Swift when everyone who works at your magazine would skin themselves alive if it would make a new pair of sandals for Regina Spektor? (Is it because of the Orange is the New Black theme song? If it is just tell me because I totally get it that song is brilliant.YOU'VE GOT TIIIII-IIII-IIIIME!)
Where was I going? Oh yeah: listen. I get there's this horrible thing called white privilege that nobody more perfectly personifies than peppy, preppy, pretty, tiny, rich, blonde little Taylor Swift in her Audrey Hepburn flats. But the universe of white privilege can't fall entirely on Taylor Swift's shoulders. This article is so catty that it's obvious the author straight up just hates her for who she is, not for what she's doing in this video or probably ever. And isn't hating someone for who they are and not what they do kind of, like, the whole problem?
I want to reach out to Taylor and tell her her video made a bad day better, made me smile every time I watched it, made me infinitely happy, and made me love her. But, she's okay. She already knows that the haterz gonna hate hate hate hate hate.