Monday, September 15, 2014

Taylor Swift Revisited [But Not Really]

Hey, everyone. So, I know I wrote a blog "article" [partially/mostly] about Taylor Swift about a year ago (ffffffffuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhkk), but I'm a male, cis-het, Hispanic, American human who's not too proud to revisit a subject or reevaluate an opinion or belief in [the] light of new information. Ms. Swift was recently interviewed by the Guardian in promotion of her forthcoming fifth album, 1989. The interview is as chummy and softball as you might expect, but Ms. Swift also shows a surprising amount of introspection [which, yes, would have been any amount of introspection whatsoever, but ykwim]. It's like she actually learned [at least two of] the lessons [I felt] she needed to learn in the past year, namely, that "boyfriend-stealing," [and, therefore, one would assume, "girlfriend-stealing"] is "not a thing," i.e., no one can "steal" your significant other unless they WANT to leave you, and that feminism doesn't [or doesn't have to, or at least shouldn't] have anything to do with "pitting men and women against each other" (this is a critique of feminism that goes at least as far back as the suffrage movement, which, to me, seems to suggest that anti-feminists haven't come up with any new arguments in the past 100-150 years, but that's beside the point). Ms. Swift even adopts the "feminist" label herself! So, hey, credit where credit is due. And in this case, I'd have to say that credit lies with Lena Dunham for becoming friends with Ms. Swift, and, apparently, being a really good influence on her...

Another effort by Ms. Swift to promote her new album was to release a music video for the lead single, "Shake it Off." The song is about ignoring Teh H8erz™. Whatever. I honestly don't care, even though it was co-written by Max Martin, who is basically Satan to me, as a musician—and not in a good way—and I fucking DARE you to look up his previous "works" and tell me I'm off-base! Look—I always say [or at least think] that there's a difference between criticism and "h8in'"—that you can't surround yourself with yes-persons—that you can go ahead and tell "h8erz" to fuck off, but it would behoove you to pay attention to your critics just on the off-chance that they might have something constructive to say. Of course, I'm not sure that most people even HAVE H8erz™—that would require that there be people who give enough of a fuck about you to hate you, and I don't know you [probably], but I'm skeptical that that's the case. [201409171700 edit: I've just realized that, even if you, personally, don't have H8erz, it's still possible that you might fall victim to people who just spread out hate as widely as they can, or target people they see as "vulnerable." This is a slightly different circumstance, but it's still no better for YOU. Sorry.] Ok. On second thought, even though you probably don't have H8erz, if you ever want to ACCOMPLISH anything, you probably WILL have naysayers. But again, you have to learn how to distinguish between naysayers, who can go fuck themselves, and people who are just trying to offer you a realistic appraisal of the risks involved in whatever endeavor you're undertaking. You probably won't have time to analyze each individual voice to determine whether they're a naysayer or, um, the other thing, but you can't get caught in an ideological bubble or believing your own hype, and the only way to learn how to make these distinctions is through experience—where was I?
Oh, right. Taylor Swift. Obviously, she just doesn't have the time or concern for nuance that I do, but who does? You? Don't make me laugh. Or do. Who cares? I don't!

Anyway, Ms. Swift’s video has drawn some criticism for its use [in a certain scene] of primarily black women engaged in a style of dance known as "twerking." I'm not going to comment on whether it was appropriate for Ms. Swift to have a scene in her music video in which she appeared alongside twerking WOCs [mostly], dressed like them, wearing "gold" jewelry of a "comically" exaggerated size and doing whatever the fuck this is. Whatever I could say about it, I can't win, but more on that later. Instead, I'd like to a address what I see as the wrong response to this type of criticism. YouTube "superstar" Phillip De Franco II, in this video, chose to only reference one person—who hadn't seen the video, and use that as a reason [or excuse] to implicitly dismiss ANY criticism of or concern about the video as "speaking out of your ass" and "being angry for angry's [sic] sake," and then to whitesplain about how it wasn't racist and move along, nothing to see here, and there are "real" race-issues we have to deal with in this country, so why are you "wasting time" getting upset about this? In fact, I can hear some of you now saying, "WHY AREN'T YOU TALKING ABOUT FERGUSON INSTEAD OF THIS BULLSHIT!?" Well, I'm talking about this bullshit BECAUSE you're likely to think that it's ridiculous. You see, if you want to be an ally, you have to learn to listen to the concerns of [people from] oppressed groups without reflexively dismissing them, no matter how ridiculous you think their concerns are! It's not your job to monitor and/or police the "ridiculousness" of the grievances of [people from] oppressed groups! You're not the meta-pc-police! How the fuck do you think it looks if you're a white person and your first response to racial concern over the actions of another white person is NOT to make an effort to listen to a wide range of concerns and then try to form some kind of dialogue, but instead to JUMP [out of your way] to defend the white person!? To me, it actually DOES resemble the actions of the police force in Ferguson, which, instead of acknowledging that a grave harm had been committed, and acting in the interest of the community to call for an external investigation, instead "circled the wagons" to protect one of their own at the expense of their already fragile relationship with the community—not to mention HUMAN DECENCY! "So, what, are you calling me a racist now!?" No. Get over yourself! Not everything's about you! All I'm asking is that you acknowledge your own privilege and resist the urge to be reflexively defensive when a member of an oppressed group raises concerns about something!

One complaint in response to this reasoning that I keep encountering is, "I can't win! Even though Elliot Rodger was a mass-murderer—even though he had the option to be basically ANYTHING other than a violent criminal—nothing he could have done would ever have been good enough for the White Knight Mangina or the Feminazi SJW! #ManTears." Look, here's the thing: No one can "win," alright, motherfucker!? Unfortunately, that's just how things are nowadays. I could wax idealistic about not being a knee-jerk reactionary or shutting out opposing viewpoints like I did earlier in this article, or about not becoming "The Thing We Were Fighting Against," but in practice, one tires of refuting the same point a thousand times, especially points that perpetuate harmful misconceptions and stereotypes, blah, blah, blah—aaaand I've gone Full Sarkeesian. #DealWithIt!

Look—the fact that your first concern seems to be "winning" indicates, to me, that you're perfectly content to put your own feelings above the wellbeing of others. Being an ally isn't about being "good enough," or jumping through hoops, or anything like that. Again, it's about acknowledging your own privilege and respecting and listening to the concerns of oppressed groups. What I mean by, "nobody else can 'win' either," is that, well, hey, maybe you're right that no matter what you do, you'll never live up to the expectations of some feminists, but if you're a woman [for example] who gets raped or otherwise assaulted or a black person who gets shot by the police, you'll also never be able to live up to the expectations of people who reflexively jump to the defense of the police and [alleged] rapists and the status quo! Yeah, yeah, I know—"presumption of innocence." Again, as I can only speak for myself, I understand that this is the foundation of our legal system. But unless you're actually a member of the jury, this requirement doesn't apply to you, as an individual! I'm also aware of the possibility [though I keep seeing examples of this turning out not to be the practical outcome] that a mere accusation of rape can "ruin a person's life," but you have to realize that it's seldom a cakewalk for the "accuser" either, and that there comes a point at which automatically standing with the accused does more harm to actual victims of rape than it benefits people who might have been falsely accused, which is, by the preponderance of available evidence, very rare, and let us remember that less than half of rapes are ever even reported to police, and only about 3% of rapists will ever spend a day in prison. Boom! Statistics! What? "Why DON'T they report it to the police!?" you ask in your whinging tenor? Gaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh........ <chugs Disaronno> Look—go Google it yourself, and then go fuck yourself, because rape-victims shouldn't have to answer to you about how they handled the aftermath of their assault! And weren't you just the one complaining about how YOU can't win!? Srsly. Fuck. You.

No comments :

Post a Comment