All of my happiest moments, all of my saddest moments, and all of those in between have been soundtracked by Taylor Swift. She was there for me when I was fourteen sulking on the school bus or dancing in front of the mirror. She was there when I was sixteen driving around blasting her songs with the windows down or crying hot tears with the windows up after closing the car door on a particularly frustrating day. She was there to bond my freshman year roommate and me over the anticipated release of Red, and she was there when I was stuck on a bus for thirteen hours from Edinburgh to London.
Beyond her music, the greatest thing about Taylor Swift is that she has always legitimized my feelings. She understands and expresses them in her songs, but more importantly Taylor has always seemed real to me and I appreciate and admire her for that. People often call her childish and compare her to other stars her age who have children, openly party, or are for various reasons touted as more mature than her. In reality, Taylor is more similar to every other twenty-something I know than any of the stars to which she is compared. Taylor is the kind of twenty-four-year-old that would be in my circle of friends. She likes cats, knitting, crafting, and staying in. She’s awkward, she’s quirky, and she admits to her imperfections. She loves her friends and has the coolest sleepovers. She goes to great lengths for her fans and even though she gets a lot of hate, she shakes it off.
A lot of people hate Taylor Swift but most of them, when asked why, have no legitimate reason to cite and revert instead back to hollow accusations of things like immaturity. However, once people set their minds to hating something they will find any excuse to do so, even a song about being yourself and not trying to fit in or worry about what other people say. According to some people’s reactions to “Shake it Off”, Taylor Swift is now a sellout and a racist.
Those who accuse Taylor of being a sellout for switching from country to pop and changing her sound seem unable to accept that she is evolving as an artist and a person (something that is encouraged of most 20-somethings). However, more troubling is the people who are creating racism where it doesn’t exist.
One of the widely circulated assertions that Taylor Swift’s new video perpetuates racial stereotypes and racism is this tweet from rapper Earl Sweatshirt in response to the video:
“haven’t watched the taylor swift video and I don’t need to watch it to tell you that it’s inherently offensive and ultimately harmful”
Without watching the video, this man made a judgment on it. He and other internet agitators assert that this video is perpetuating racial stereotypes by having black dancers twerking and that Taylor Swift is racist because she twerks, tutts, and says ‘hella’ in the video. These claims suggest that white people are not allowed to dance hip-hop or use slang and that hip-hop is synonymous with black culture. The implications of these suggestions are destructive in their own way, but so is the internet ignorance that is exhibited here.
Earl Sweatshirt made a sweeping and accusatory claim on a video that he couldn’t even spend four minutes of his life watching. The problem here is internet ignorance. Anyone who watched the video would see that there are not only black dancers among the hip-hop dancers but that there are also black dancers among the contemporary dancers, cheerleaders, futurist dancers, b-boys, and “normal people”. There are also white dancers twerking in the hip-hop scene. However, Earl Sweatshirt did not watch the video. His claim that he does not need to watch it to tell the world of it’s apparent offensiveness is demonstrative of so many internet users’ insistence on weighing in on subjects on which they are not well-informed. This opinion entitlement plagues internet discussion threads from music videos that commenters haven’t actually watched to pieces on political issues that commenters can’t be bothered to research.
The internet has a bad habit of creating problems where they don’t exist. The ignorance spread from people who can’t wait four minutes before projecting hateful claims is just one example of this. We have enough negativity to face in the world without the unnecessary and ignorant hate emitted from internet-fire-starters. Taylor Swift and her new song and music video are a fantastic example of what this world needs to see more of: confident, independent, individuals who stay true to themselves and don’t let the haters get them down.