I am waiting patiently for Taylor Swift to realize her potential as an evil genius. Words cannot express how much I want this for her.
Taylor Swift is noted for playing the victim, the innocent, the girl next door. She has built her career around the fact that there is nothing America loves more than rooting for a fake underdog.
When Kanye West famously interrupted her acceptance speech for the “You Belong With Me” music video, I agreed with his sentiments. I still do, in that Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” video is both visually iconic and responsible for a dance craze, and if those aren’t the most important criteria for judging the quality of a music video, I don’t know what are, nor do I care to find out. Moreover, there was the fact that the entire conceit for the “You Belong With Me” video was stolen from Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend” video. But here’s the thing: Lavigne was never the ideal messenger for it (the fact that she and Swift are in many ways dark reflections of each other is another story for another time, some cozy night by the fire).
What I am trying to say is that in spite of all its shortcomings, the “You Belong With Me” video continues to haunt me, and being as one of my bad habits is ascribing genius to people/things that likely don’t deserve it, I am convinced that this is because it is the product of a great and evil mind.
Taylor Swift makes me feel like Magneto, in that I want to draw her aside and tell her “You aren’t like these people. Come with me, and I will make you the destroyer of worlds you were born to be.” And don’t tell me she doesn’t want to.
The problem is she doesn’t have the first clue how how. Curse her for turning the Kanye debacle into a maudlin feud with her condescendingly immature ballad of rebuttal instead of grabbing the man by the shoulders and saying “TEACH ME TO BE YOU.” The girl who made a video about the conflict between her sad-sack, passive-aggressive, girl next door identity and the Queen Bitch she wishes she could be needs to be taken in hand, and who better than a man caught between arrogance and self-loathing, grandiosity and heartache?
It’s not that I don’t think she’s kind of doing something great already. She has a genius for the perspectiveless chronicling of teenage horribleness that is truly astonishing. Take for example, her best friend persona in “You Belong With Me.” I can’t be the only person who hears the line “I know all your favorite songs, and you tell me ‘bout your dreams. Think I know where you belong, think I know it’s with me,” and think about the all the subtly undermining things I said in high school to my friends who were dating people I don’t like. I know the word “dreams” probably means like, something super American, like majoring in political science or owning a small business. I always imagine her object of affection literally describing the dream he had last night and her giving him complex semiotic interpretations that always lead back to “Your girlfriend is stifling you.” I give her that kind of credit.
And speaking of semiotics, let’s not forget that she also plays said evil girlfriend, wearing a brown wig, which you cannot tell me is any more or less of a phony affectation than those fake glasses are. Evil Girlfriend is Taylor’s id, the girl who publicly talks shit and has mad pre-marital sex, who wears red to the big dance, who grinds up on date on the dance floor, who probably has peach schnapps in her purse, and who, in spite of her self-possession, duh, feels totally threatened by her boyfriend’s asshole best friend who is always trying to undermine their relationship. And they clearly fight about it all the time.
Do you think Taylor Swift has ever told anyone to fuck off? Don’t you think it would be the best thing that could ever happen to her? Doesn’t all that repression hurt? Have you ever seen anyone more “good” out of guilt than out of any deep abiding “goodness”? Does she need to listen to Eartha Kitt’s “I Want to Be Evil” on a loop for like a week, or what?
Taylor Swift doesn’t have the nerve to do anything more than hint at this conflict, which is why Nicki Minaj, who openly grapples with her warring personae, gets to be Kanye’s protege. Taylor would never cop to being “a motherfucking monster,” although she totally is. Remember when she used Jungian archetypes to convince a dude to break up with his girlfriend? It happened like, two paragraphs ago/in my mind every day.
I cannot say this enough: “relatibility” is a bogus identity. Nobody became a good guy by hiding the fact that they are a bad guy. (Sorry for making everything in the world about Kanye, but that’s why “Runaway” is one of the best songs ever. #ITSAPROCESS) I would rather see Taylor Swift as a sympathetic villain than a self-pitying princess, but I’m not gonna kid myself that it’ll happen in my lifetime. I might anonymously mail her a copy of The Prince, though.
I read this and I just wanted to heart it like a hundred times. This is so, so deeply true.