Saturday, 25 November 2017

Taylor Swift and The Guardian: It's clickbait but reminds us of the left's nastiness

I appreciate that today's newspapers need clickbait to get enough visitors to satisfy their advertisers. And I also understand that The Guardian would never admit to this, which means I'm going to take their editorial laying into Taylor Swift at face value:
Mr Trump realised it was more effective to target a core group than attempt blanket appeal in his campaign – but Swift worked it out first. For years, she has directed her extraordinary self-promotional skills towards cultivating a dedicated and emotional army of followers, handpicking particularly loyal fans for private listening parties and, on her latest tour, allowing members of the public to buy tickets only once they have proved their allegiance through their purchasing history. Her new album, Reputation, is not available on Spotify – anyone wishing to hear it must buy it.
The reason Ms Swift has attracted the ire of the UK's leading journal of self-righteous left-wing tripe is that she has been insufficiently strident in her criticism of Donald Trump.
Her silence seems to be more wilful: a product of her inward gaze, perhaps, or her pettiness and refusal to concede to critics. Swift seems not simply a product of the age of Trump, but a musical envoy for the president’s values.
So let's look at Ms Swift's failings (as insinuated by The Guardian): having alt-right fans, too few friends who aren't "thin, white and wealthy", being good at marketing, and not releasing her new album free to air from day one. Oh, she also challenged structural racism (the lefty idea that the oppressed can't be racist) as incomprehensible.

Until I'd read this pretty egregious editorial I'd not knowingly listened to anything by Taylor Swift - unsurprisingly I'm not target market and she is (as The Guardian notice) rather good at marketing. So, prompted by the Guardian's ire, I spent an hour listening to Ms Swift's catalogue on Spotify (except for the latest release, of course, as that's not there yet). I can see the appeal - even the bit The Guardian snarks at, saying:
Swift’s songs echo Mr Trump’s obsession with petty score-settling in their repeated references to her celebrity feuds, or report in painstaking detail on her failed romantic relationships (often, there is crossover). The message is quintessentially Trumpian: everyone is out to get me – but I win anyway.
Seems to me that, celebrity references aside, Ms Taylor's music sits right with the interests of her core audience of younger women - tales of unrequited love, snarky stuff about other girls, you really love me don't you. All this is done in a slightly country, upbeat and catchy manner - nothing too hard to listen too, simple tunes and storied lyrics. And I guess it's the stuff Ms Swift likes to sing and that her marketing team knows the audience wants to hear.

And this is great, Taylor Swift seems to be a woman on top of her business. The bit that isn't so great here is that The Guardian cannot comprehend a celebrated singer not wanting to 'do politics', despite the undoubted fact that Ms Swift's fans probably don't pay a great deal of attention to that politics. What's even odder is that The Guardian takes the view that Ms Swift's silence is, in some way, an endorsement of Donald trump - presumably on the 'if you're against him, you're for him' principle. This is really rather unpleasant - going as it does from reporting on Ms Swift saying nothing to inferring that she's only a breath away from joining far right marches. It all suggests that the newly-unpleasant left simply cannot countenance an artist that refuses to join their mob and prefers to just get on with being a rich and successful performer. And god forbid that any writer, singer or actor is conservative.


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