I drove to Paramus on Monday to sample the local low-cost furniture and gas station culture of New Jersey. I rarely listen to the radio, and so had not yet heard Taylor Swift’s new(?) song, “We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together.” Monday, I heard it one and a half times, which was one time more than I needed to decide I do not like it. It is not good.
I am a huge fan of her Fearless album. I know all the lyrics. “The Way You Loved Me” is on my iPod’s This Is How We Do It workout mix. I love a musician who writes her own music. Her voice is nice and doesn’t sound all auto-tuned
But Taylor Swift is annoying. She has won plenty of awards. She has been amply interviewed. She has dated all the famous men. Why does she still act, every single time that she appears onstage, or at a ceremony, or on the television, like she is shocked that anyone bought tickets/honored her/has questions about her life? False modesty is annoying. That said, I sympathize with the instinct towards it; women are conditioned from day one to strain for likeability, forsaking all other qualities. There was a time in my life that any time anyone complimented me, I would invariably compliment them back, whether or not I meant it. I thought that was the perfect balance of modesty and manners. I was wrong.
This desire to be seen as nice manifests itself in other ways, a la the scene in Mean Girls where Regina George tells another girl that she loves her skirt, “So retro!”, only to turn around and snark on the skirt the second the girl walks away. If I dated a bunch of super famous dudes and then spilled all of their details in an international forum and made a ton of money for it, the society’s guillotine judgment would fall on me hard, like it has notorious kiss-and-tellers Rachel Uchitel, Karrine Steffans, and, God willing, Arnold Schwarzenegger, but when Taylor Swift does it to four ascending and descending notes, it’s art and brave of her to share her personal life.
I don’t know why T-Swift can’t gracefully receive praise, and write songs that don’t sound like my middle school diary, or date anyone without then revealing their private details in a song casting herself as the sweetest ingénue in her own personal romantic comedy. While many of her songs are catchy, and God knows, easy to sing, she is bad for women. We shame Britney and Ke$ha for running around in skimpy outfits and promoting promiscuity, but at least they promote strong confident female images. All Taylor Swift’s guffawing and aw-shucksing is especially bad for her young female fan base, not to mention national treasure, John Mayer, who doesn’t need any more negative press.