All you are is mean, and a liar and pathetic, and alone in life, and mean and mean and mean and mean – Taylor Swift
Now that I am in the twilight years of my forties, I find with no small measure of relief that I no longer have the slightest reputation or image to maintain and am therefore free to publicize any sad and pitiful thing that enters my head, public reaction be damned. Hence, I haven’t even tried to make a secret of the fact that I am a middle-aged man who spends a pathetically significant amount of time watching children’s programs on Nickelodeon. In between episodes of iCarly or Victorious, TeenNick will often show a popular music video before the commercial break. Recently, my eyes and ears were assaulted by a three-minute immersion into musical waterboarding from Taylor Swift’s newest album, predictably titled “Reputation”.
Against a backdrop that looked like a leftover set from The Matrix, Taylor snarled and purred her way through yet another display of master-and-servant choreography dressed in an ensemble that suggested a perpetually orgasmic cyborg vanquishing urban demons with a fatally coquettish wink of her baby blues. To be honest, none of the preceding analogies were germinating in my mind as I watched this seizure-inducing montage because I was literally dumbstruck by the sheer level of insufferability Ms. Swift has managed to achieve since I was last force-fed one of her infinitely identical paeans to bitterness towards ex-boyfriends.
Taylor Swift may currently enjoy the queen’s throne among insipid radio pop artists, but she is by no means the sole or even the worst offender (I’m looking at you, Meghan Trainor). At present, there are 98 volumes of Now That’s What I Call
A Prostate Exam Music available on Amazon along with 36 volumes of the same awful songs performed by toddlers who are only slightly less lascivious in their inappropriately seductive delivery than their mic-stand grinding role models on a series of horrible CDs entitled Kidz Bop. That’s a lot of crap from which to choose for those who choose to choose crap.
What makes Taylor Swift such a frequent object of my mystification is the fact that reviewers — sometimes from normally reputable publications — insist on treating her “work” as if it were multi-layered prose employing artful use of nuance and symbolism to reveal deep philosophical truths and inspirational messages of empowerment. Some of these curiously uncritical critics actually attempt to parse her simplistic lyrics for hidden meanings, as if they were among the most challenging of passages from Finnegan’s Wake or Atlas Shrugged. Here are a few head-scratching quotes from The Guardian’s online review of Reputation: “By now, any self-styled grown-up who still believes pop music is ‘just’ pop music will be thoroughly disabused of the notion. Taylor Swift’s sixth studio album, Reputation, is a riveting record, whose release is hard to extricate from the context into which it drops.”; “Tangentially, it takes in gender and power. As much as Reputation seeks to duck the conversation, it is an album in which victimhood, white privilege and freedom of speech loom large.”; “Passion is Swift’s life’s work – resulting in masterclasses such as Dress, where she confesses she ‘only bought this dress so you can take it off’. Like its most recent predecessors, Reputation is a roman à clef that begs the listener to decode which kiss-and-tell relates to which A-list former beau.”
At least that absurdly complimentary final sentence acknowledged the fact that “kiss-and-tell” lyrics directed at “A-list former beaus” is quite literally the ONLY topic about which Taylor Swift opines. I’ve seen other reviewers actually treat her pop temper tantrums as some kind of complex code to be cracked (“Can it be that she’s referring to John Mayer when she sings the line, ‘We’re never ever ever gonna date again, John Mayer Mayer Mayer’?”). Let me just save some future time and effort for these easily befuddled pop culture aestheticians by answering any of their queries into the meaning of one of her songs with an unequivocal YES! Is she mad and bitter about an ex-boyfriend? YES! Is she trying to justify her own self-absorption by framing it as an aspirational example of female empowerment? YES! Is she pretty much just ripping pages out of her Rainbow Brite sticker-emblazoned diary and setting their juvenile and melodramatic contents to music? YES! Are you feeding into her already titanic ego with the ridiculous effluvium of flattery contained in your pointless reviews? YES! Is she so obsessed with her own image and reputation that she could think of no title more subtle or creative than “Reputation” for her latest creepy invasion of humanity’s personal space? You get the idea.
Taylor Swift — like Donald T***p — is a crystalline example of modern America’s celebration of all things vulgar, frivolous and insipid. Treating her melodic dog shit as if it were brilliant poetry is the equivalent of treating the world’s dumbest real estate developer like he’s the president. Remember: watching people get mauled by lions was considered the height of distinguished entertainment in the waning years of the Roman Empire. The death of any great civilization begins with its culture. Isn’t it time we started viewing Taylor Swift as the imminent threat to our society that she truly represents? Only we can stop this madness, my friends and fellow citizens. If Kanye West could manage to single-handedly bruise her ego for years to come with just a brief moment of onstage interruption, just imagine what we can accomplish if we all band together in this incredibly vital struggle against her obscene ongoing popularity. By this time next year, she’ll inspire about the same level of public interest as is currently enjoyed by the likes of Joyce DeWitt. The dream is within our reach.