Taylor Swift is not one of us, one of us, one of us.

I've been thinking lately that a lot of people these days have lost their sense of what it means to be subversive and dangerous. Not even subversive, I guess. The essential issue is that you can't just go by what turns your gut when you're trying to figure out what's out there having a noxious effect on the general state of affairs. It's like people are standing knee deep in sirloin talking about how there's beef in the streets a good five blocks down. To a degree, that's what got me all riled up about that site that spends its time digging for symbolism and conspiracy where there almost certainly is none. People want their conspiracies and degenerate behaviour to take on familiar forms that they can recognize and denounce. The problem is that life is not a Dan Brown novel. Symbolism in the information age is a complicated beast, and human behavior is even more complex.

I'm a student of the occult. It's fascinating, fun, and useful but as with all things you can't rely on it or a singular version of it to make sense of the whole world for you. That's when you start getting bent out of shape about a Jay-Z video and miss the real and far more serious things going on in pop culture. Beyond being distracting, conspiracy theories- especially ones that focus on occult oriented ur-groups like the Illuminati- promote a really poisonous world view. Conspiracies run by globe spanning monolithic entities are by their very nature unstoppable. Ascribing them objective reality does precisely nothing but promote defeatism, apathy, and paranoia. But I covered that on the last episode.

This morning I got an article passed my way called Why Taylor Swift Offends Little Monsters, Feminists, and Weirdos. I'm all three, so I got ready to be offended. I'll be honest here; I've never knowingly heard one of her songs. The first I'd seen of her after having vaguely heard her name here and there was the incident with Kanye West. I don't put any stock in music award shows whatsoever, so all I really got out of it were the internet memes and the like. Imagine my surprise when I learned that Taylor Swift is in fact everything I hate. I'm not really going to get into it from the perspective of her being an incredibly regressive figure when it comes to femininity and sex. I'd rather you read the original article for that, because it's done quite well.

The thing that really angers me about her is how she is allowed to blatantly front like she's some kind of social outcast and moans on endlessly in her songs about how the pretty boys don't go for her. You'll notice a brilliant side by side comparison in the Autostraddle article of Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga expressing their perceived freakishness. Taylor is staring out the window wearing massive framed glasses and some absurd t-shirt. The Lady Gaga shot is from the Bad Romance video with the frizzy pink hair and giant iris contact lenses. The implication is that Swift's glasses are a poorly staged affectation while Gaga's appearance is the product of a far more febrile and thus genuinely unconventional mind.

I didn't immediately glom onto Lady Gaga the way that I did Shirley Manson or Pink. It took constant immersion on the dance floor during a year that was superheated with club anthems for her to catch a toehold with me. Even so it wasn't until I began curiously peeling back the layers and slowly realizing how self constructed she was that I started down the road to becoming a Little Monster. The Rolling Stone interview was when my adoration reached critical mass. Perhaps bits and pieces of it had to do with her elucidation of her origins, intent, and dialectic but it was the revelation that she is good friends with Marilyn Manson that changed everything for me. Suddenly it all slid into focus and I realized that she is in many ways the Anti-Christ Pop Star. The aesthetic similarities between her current oeuvre and Manson's Mechanical Animals phase didn't begin to surface overtly until the premiere of the Paparazzi video and has only just barely seen it's most dizzying heights with the release of the Fame Monster. Compare the videos for Bad Romance and The Dope Show if you're still skeptical.

Real geeks, the crazy visionary ones who sat in the bleachers pining for adoration and understanding of the seemingly tyrannical masses did sit in the bleachers and probably at one point or another wore glasses and stared out the window. But they never, ever let their drama stay that small. It took on truly cosmic proportions that transformed them into avatars of their dreams, nightmares, and insecurities. They built new identities, new mythologies in their little dark corners. Strapping on a pair of frames and doing your best to look meek doesn't make you an outsider, it doesn't validate you as an artist. It just outs you as a cynical predator, or a stooge for cynical predators looking to make money off teenage malaise.

I'm sure that there are people out there that are worried that there are millions of little budding maladroits out there being hoodwinked by Taylor Swift's driving in cars while crying about boys who look like sunshine at two in the morning. The real maladroits are the ones crouching in corners cursing her attempts at co-opting their suffering while the truly wretched self styled Bellas wander through life listlessly waiting for their Edwards to appear. Probably while driving in a truck while crying at two in the morning. Taylor Swift is the kind of thing that conservative parents foist on their children when they catch them with purloined copies of The Fame Monster. It's a sad state of affairs that leads to inventions like the artificial hymen, but there are now and always will be dark forces trying to hold us back. Taylor Swift might be getting her moment in the sun right now, but it really seems that the culture is not primed to be wrapped up in a regressive throwback response to the excesses of the teen idols of Five Years Ago. MTV can hand out statues to whoever they want, it won't change the fact that the people spoke long before Kanye West rushed the stage; Lady Gaga is the biggest thing to happen to pop since Madonna and she isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and she's there precisely because she's a freak. Welcome to 2010, it's a beautiful time to be a Little Monster.


Post a Comment



Welcome to it.

These are my ramblings. Have a go if you think you're hard.