Taylor Swift - Midnights | Page 249 | The Popjustice Forum

Taylor Swift - Midnights

Discussion in 'Pop & Justice' started by Slice of Life, Aug 3, 2022.

  1. I teach concurrent enrollment English at my high school. So basically my high school students are taking a college level composition class. To teach them rhetoric, I use Taylor Swift's videos because they work very well for teaching and it's very fun to talk about her music/visuals and connect it to her public persona. I teach Blank Space at the beginning of the semester and then circle back to Anti-Hero.

    My students despise Taylor Swift. They can't stand her brand and I can't really disagree with them despite liking the music (she is pretty obnoxious). They literally eye-rolled at the lyrics of Anti-Hero. One girl said, "I can't believe this rich white girl is trying to play the victim." They think the song is fake introspection and that she's actually learned nothing and that Anti-Hero is just another Look What You Made Me Do-style defense. Even though I read Anti-Hero as more genuine than they did, they made a decent argument.

    I think some of them actually do like the music but can't get past her public persona.
    Txetxu, Truce, BrianQ and 2 others like this.
  2. It's been stated in this thread before but it bears repeating that an anti-hero is not the same thing as a victim. People throw that phrase around so much as it relates to Taylor that it starts to feel like it's lost all meaning - like sure there are plenty of valid examples but I'm not sure a song with the main hook "I'm the problem, it's me" qualifies as one.
    Wishlight, Tabris, Lander and 24 others like this.
  3. In my opinion, anti-hero works especially well as a single but on an album with vigilante shit and 8 years after blank space, I’m a little more skeptical…. Which I suppose circles back to why it does work so well even if it means her fans can claim she’s aware of her flaws as teens target those same flaws.
    Purple likes this.
  4. Agree!
    Wishlight, R27 and lushLuck like this.
  5. I think the point my students were trying to make is that "anti-hero" is just kind of veiled way of playing the victim. It's almost like when somebody tries to hold somebody accountable for specific things and they brush it aside by saying, "Well, I guess I'm just a horrible person!" to deflect real criticism. My kids thought, "I'm the problem, it's me" was functioning in that way. They were like, "But you obviously don't think you're the problem." I can see why they feel that way based on her personality/persona but I'm not sure that it's supported by the language of the song, which I did challenge them on.

    My kids are mostly kids of color, many of who have difficult home lives and not a lot of money, so I can see why she rubs them the wrong way. They thought her problems are so small and petty and they also called her self-centered, which may not be totally fair, but it makes sense considering where they're coming from.
    GimmeWork, Wishlight, Txetxu and 4 others like this.
  6. I mean, the very concept of this album is about sleepless nights and things that haunt you. I don’t imagine anyone thinks Taylor walks around 100% of the time thinking she’s the problem, but I don’t doubt she’s had some sleepless nights where her self esteem has plummeted and she’s thought to herself “maybe I actually am the problem? Maybe I cause this shit myself?”.
    I’m sure we’ve all had nights where we’ve spiralled into that dark place of thinking maybe we’re not good people and deserve the shit we get, I know I have.

    I get them thinking her problems are small and petty in comparison to the challenges they’ve had to face but you could say the same for anyone with obscene amounts of wealth and privilege. There’s always someone who has it worse than us but that doesn’t mean our feelings aren’t valid and it doesn’t make our own painful experiences any less real.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2022
  7. I agree with you 100% but it's hard for my mostly 14, 15, and 16 year old students to see that. I actually challenged them with a much less articulate version of what you said but they didn't really change their opinions. My high school students are delightful---clever, funny, sweet, smart, and more woke than previous generations---but I do notice that they struggle with empathy a lot of the time, especially if that person is privileged.
    GimmeWork, Txetxu, Truce and 7 others like this.
  8. OH








    Wishlight, Euphoria, Lander and 16 others like this.
  9. Yes we regular folk can't relate to her problems, but I think the unwarranted hate she has received a lot of the time and her life's work being sold off are two examples of her deserving of "playing the victim".

    Also 'Anti-Hero' is basically her owning up to it and admitting she is her own worst enemy and I think it's only human for us to at times feel sorry for ourselves, no matter the level of privilege.
    Andrew likes this.
  10. upload_2022-11-30_14-24-35.png
    She really is the problem!
  11. I love how hard it is for y’all to hear fair criticisms of her.
    Purple likes this.
  12. Sis have you really decided to stand in solidarity with the 14-16 demo?
  13. My top played song of the year was Midnight Rain and I have no clue how that came to be.
  14. As a teacher of 5 year olds from a similar background, yes.
    GimmeWork and Raichu like this.
  15. I see where you're coming from, but to me, I don't think she gets more hate than a lot of other popstars. I mean, she gets more hate than the completely non-controversial popstars, but it doesn't seem like to reach the Madonna fever pitch where it starts to get horrifying. And for all the hate she gets, it seems like she also gets a lot more good will than other pop stars in that she has the monumental sales and critics seem weirdly hesitant to critique her albums. All that just doesn't quite add up to victimhood generally IMO. Her work being sold off absolutely does but I'm not sure my students even know about that (I probably should have brought it up as something to think about but it's a bit of a different issue than the one they were addressing).

    As I've said many times before, Anti-Hero is an excellent piece of pop craftmanship, both lyrically and sonically. But as an owning up song, I'm not sure it really gets the job done. I do think there is an element of owning up and she's trying, but again, there's too much of a wink and it comes across a little glib. I don't think she meant for it to be glib but her songwriting style kind of has that effect anyway. I think a more naked approach to the songwriting would have worked better in that regard. Her penchant for literary devices in her writing does give the song a calculated feel whereas giving it to the listener straight would have come across as more authentic.

    Basically, I think the song is genuine, but I can't fault anybody for thinking otherwise.
    GimmeWork, Wishlight, Txetxu and 5 others like this.
  16. I don't see what's wrong with doing so. They made valid points even if they failed to consider Taylor three-dimensionally.
    GimmeWork, Txetxu, RUNAWAY and 2 others like this.
  17. There's nothing wrong with it, I just find the weird pathologizing over her intentions in bad faith. I've brought this up before but I don't really take issue with the amount of criticism she receives here compared to other pop stars, more so that her intentions are regularly pulled apart to the point of things getting weird: "she doesn't ACTUALLY feel like that" is a slippery slope regarding a woman we don't know personally. And to then turn it into a 'y'all can't take any criticism' when it was civil discussion from an observer's perspective (the entire point of a music forum), it feels a touch like gaslighting.

    I've appreciated you sharing your discussions with your students, I think it provides an interesting glimpse at how the younger generations approach music/pop stars. The above is more a reflection on how conversations around her tend to trend on here at times.
    Wishlight, MeganTu, Sam and 9 others like this.
  18. Thank you!

    To address the bolded, yes, it is presumptuous but I think that Taylor's brand is partially what makes people make those kind of assumptions. She does come across a bit insincere, but I do agree that we don't know. As I said in the last post, it has a lot to do with her songwriting style. "I'm in the problem, it's me" is so cutesy that it does kind of come across glib. And then, combined with her image, I get why people make the assumptions they do even if they absolutely are assumptions.

    As much as I am impressed with Anti-Hero's inventive songwriting and its satisfyingly smooth cadences, I do think that a very straightforward not cutesy style would have made people believe her more instead of thinking, "Oh, here's Taylor deflecting again." Basically, I'm just saying that these assumptions were not made in a vacuum.

    I also think her songwriting style, while still fun to observe (and read along with; unlike many popstars, Taylor is definitely a "sit down with the lyrics while listening to the album" artist), holds Midnights back. It's feels like same tropes, the same devices, the same content. A stripped down lyrical approach would be growth and it wouldn't feel so much like coasting. Her style is sometimes a little too distinctive.
  19. I understood more of those criticisms back in the 1989 days, but I think some people have kept that bias against her and aren't letting themselves see that she's grown a lot as a person over the years. They'll twist things to fit their narrative of her.
    Florencia. likes this.
  20. I think Anti Hero is both genuine and tongue in cheek. I think the “one day I’ll watch as your leaving cuz you got tired of my scheming” and the monster on the hill line etc are probably very real, genuine fears of hers. But I also think the “everybody agreessssssss” is an obvious wink at us. She doesn’t lie awake at night worried Kim was right and she’s a snake. I think the song probably started out as being about her honest fears about herself but morphed into being a bit of a play on her public persona as well.
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