Can this post-modern society be saved or will it become a Blank Space?

Did you have a childhood celebrity hero?

I had one- a few years ago I decided I out grew them- and worse that they were never worth idolizing in the first place- essentially I lost hope in them. But she did something yesterday that got me thinking I might believe in Fairy Tales again- maybe.

I had a few real life heroes, but few celebrities were allowed on the list. I figured if I didn’t personally know them how could I care? Additionally my NPR and public television loving parents didn’t really expose me to Disney channel stars- that’s right my parents didn’t pay for TV and we had five channels until I was 13 and public television “went digital” aka you had to pay for TV. But I had an alarm clock radio that woke me up every morning and I had music.

When I was ten going on eleven I heard a song on the radio that I fell in love with. It was written by a girl who was not much older than me, and it was playing on my alarm clock radio, and soon it would play most days as it made its way into the top 40. While the song was about romance, that wasn’t what stuck with me- what I loved about it was the way she sang about how she hoped that she would be remembered for the good times she had had with a friend. Her descriptions and lyrics were essentially poetry, real words, no cheating with a catchy chorus and lack of substance verses. The way she captured how music can instantly take you to a person, place or time in the past- was what I loved.

I grew up guided by Taylor Swift songs, starting high school  “Fifteen” perfectly described walking down the halls of this new school, “Tear Drops on My Guitar” helped me get over un-requited crushes. “Mine” described the lake front where my first boyfriend and I would sit- and “Picture to Burn” helped me get over him. At Girl Scout camp I taught dance routines to “Sparks Fly” and “The Best Day”.  Towards the end of High School she got out of country music, and I didn’t really listen to pop stations, but I still held a place in my heart for her earlier work.

In Spring of  2015 I helped make a video on behalf of Virginia Tech Relay for Life asking Taylor Swift to come play at our Relay. Check it out 1:58 I’m next to the cat:

Taylor would never comment or reply to our invitation to come to Relay…

It was shortly after making this video that I started to become very disillusioned with Taylor and the American Cancer Society. But when I was in this video I really believed in her, so much that I thought she would come to Relay.

I had already been annoyed about the switch to pop music, but then I started thinking about appropriation, and I started to get the feeling Taylor was selling feminism as a brand.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/apr/17/hunger-games-amandla-stenberg-criticises-miley-cyrus-taylor-swift-cultural-appropriation

https://www.thedailybeast.com/cant-shake-off-taylor-swifts-cultural-appropriation-haters-gonna-hate

 

Then the Nicki Minaj stuff came out and I really felt like Taylor was stuck on “White Feminism”.

https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop-shop/6641794/taylor-swift-nicki-minaj-twitter-argument-timeline

Not to mention her song “Bad Blood” was so opposite of the intricate lyrics I had loved I was already annoyed at her. (I know Swift said that was the point) but idk with this tweet…

Katy had a point. And I started to think about the audiences for Taylor’s music and how she was selling us sisterhood, but not necessarily fighting for every sister.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/07/23/sorry-taylor-swift-being-a-feminist-is-about-more-than-just-supporting-your-girlfriends/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.babd212e0b86

The Washington Post suggested that we not hold celebrities up as people who should be influencing our political views.

Feminism is political. It’s more than a You Go Girl cheer. And while the celebrity cheerleaders are important and can, hopefully, bring more people to the feminist game, the feminist movement itself is one place where they shouldn’t be the stars.- https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/07/23/sorry-taylor-swift-being-a-feminist-is-about-more-than-just-supporting-your-girlfriends/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.babd212e0b86

But I disagreed- and still do. When I was ten I would think about Taylor Swift on the radio, and how maybe one day I would be an actress or singer, and how I would use my fame and platform to speak out against injustices and fund charities. And so it was only natural that I would become frustrated when Taylor wouldn’t speak out for women when she had experienced assault her self as was public knowledge in 2015 . https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2017/08/11/542873672/judge-dumps-lawsuit-against-taylor-swift-filed-by-man-accused-of-groping-her

Yet, this weekend, after a leading presidential candidate was heard bragging about engaging in this exact behavior, Taylor Swift did not say a word. She stayed silent on social media in the wake of this political controversy, as she has for the entirety of this campaign cycle. She’s been silent on the hundreds of misogynistic and racist comments Trump has made, silent on who she will vote for in November—silent on whether she’ll vote at all. It’s surely an intentional decision on her part, to avoid controversy and maintain the allegiance of all of her fans.- https://splinternews.com/it-s-time-for-taylor-swift-to-say-something-about-donal-1793862658

When “Grab her by the Pussy” came out I expected Taylor to say something, not necessarily pick a side, or take a political stance- but just  to say that this was unacceptable from any man or person, ever, period.  And I felt that her silence was deafening.

And while articles would come out saying that listening to celebrities is the problem in the first place, arguing:

“At moments like this, it feels like the same Resistance that tasked itself with opposing Donald Trump is succumbing to the frivolous celebrity worship that helped install him”- https://www.theringer.com/pop-culture/2017/8/31/16234302/taylor-swift-donald-trump-problem

However, I was in total agreement with:

“But silence is not an apolitical action, as much as Swift seems to suggest that it is. To remain silent is to remain complicit—a choice that’s all the more egregious in light of Swift’s enormous platform.” -https://www.theringer.com/pop-culture/2017/8/31/16234302/taylor-swift-donald-trump-problem

I had decided that Swift’s silence was at best complicit, and at worst- maintaining her privilege and profits in lieu of the political situation, and I decided she was no longer my hero, and her songs began to hold an empty bitterness for me. Reminding me that- in this post modern, post science society, what does it matter what opinion you have, if all opinions are equal anyway, is there a point in even voicing them?

 

…..So imagine my surprise when I saw this:

Taylor finally spoke out about her actual beliefs and encouraged people to vote. Not only did she endorse feminist policies, she actually endorsed a candidate and their platform! She did the only thing I had wanted her to do since late 2015, and now I feel like it’s anti-climatic, potentially too little too late, only for her brand and/or to keep her talked about (yepp I’m talking about her), feeds into the whole post-modern society and worshipping celebrities thing, but it gave me hope. 

Taylor using her platform to speak out (FINALLY!!!) means that maybe other people who were previously silent on politics or “didn’t care” are waking up to the idea that you cannot live a non-political life because silence and a lack of choice- IS A CHOICE. Her action- while it may be motivated by many factors, some of which could be self-interest- still gives me hope that more people will participate in our democracy and fight for our democratic ideals, checks and balances, by making their voice heard. 

The way I see it we are currently in a post- modern society that if it collapses will leave a blank space for any power wielder, oligarchy or dictator to step in.

The only way I can see for us to fix our post-modern society that values facts just as much as opinions, and worships celebrities is for as many critical thinkers to vote as possible, and for our celebrities to become worthy of their platforms. Today Taylor took a step in the direction of making up for her past silence, and actually living up to her proclaimed principles.

 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/08/entertainment/kanye-west-taylor-swift/index.html

https://abc7.com/entertainment/taylor-swift-ig-post-brings-voter-registration-spike/4442341/

 

So remember

Register to Vote!!

You’ve got a Blank Space Baby, Please Write Your Name! https://www.montgomerycountyva.gov/content/15989/16035/16830/default.aspx

Think about where you want your vote counted, you’ll likely be living in Blacksburg for at least a year, in that time the local government could effect your life a lot. Do you want your apartment building to recycle, or more parks, or have an opinion about the Mountain Valley Pipeline? Things like that can be decided at the local level

-You know you love me. xoxo Ethics Girl

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