Taylor Swift - Midnights

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.
I noticed that around 1989, specifically when she leaned too hard into the “just like all the other girls, a real girl’s girl!!!” parading of her “squad” that people really started to find her unrelatable and thus, undeserving of the common folk’s empathy and consideration. It was obviously happening before that, but that’s when I personally noticed a bigger shift. I myself was in high school during most of that era and while she was at peak popularity, there were so many kids that hated her because they had so much other shit going that hearing her talk about the (very valid and true) struggle for women to be taken seriously and not be chastised for their dating lives just didn’t hit home for them, which was understandable, even if their frustration was misguided. I remember hearing some girls talk about some of those issues as if it was all Taylor’s fault, and they themselves would never be judged for dating whoever they wanted, etc. Growing older will make any woman realize that’s not true but at 16/17, it simply wasn’t a discussion. The people that didn’t connect with her at some point and already don’t like her won’t be swayed in any direction towards her favor, at this point.

As others have mentioned, I do think Anti Hero is genuine in many ways, but she’s the biggest pop star in the world and she’s very much swinging for the fences with another Big Pop single this time around so she’s going to write accordingly. The more of an “anthem” it is, the bigger it’ll be. Blank Space was so massive in part for the “she’s making fun of herself!!” and “she’s actually writing from the perspective of a character” that every swifty had to correct everyone with narrative that both showed how aware she is of said public persona and how she feels about it. Where Anti Hero feels different to me is that it reads as much more grounded in the fear she has surrounding behaviors she’s noticed are a pattern for her. A lot of people can relate to that, and just because she has more money and acclaim than any of us will ever see, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t genuinely feel that way. I also think people that already don’t care for her take something like the reputation era at face value and think she’s always rolling her eyes at the people that criticize her. They’re not going to listen to Nothing New, The Archer (as controversial at it is around these parts), Afterglow, Labyrinth (you know how much I hate that everybody just expects me to bounce back, just like that), etc. and they don’t allow her to pull the curtain back. There are absolutely better ways for her to go about it at times, but I don’t question it’s how she actually feels. Especially for someone as deeply attached to validation and praise as she is. I think it’s easy to look at a beautiful, rich, successful white woman and assume she could never have any real fears or doubts (and I’m not invalidating those feelings at all) but that’s just…not how human beings operate. There will always be a standard that we’re not meeting in accordance with our own expectations of ourselves, and no one’s exempt from that. Have things been significantly easier for her because of all of the privileges I mentioned above? Absolutely! But I don’t question that she’s had sleepless nights where she’s up wondering if she’s a piece of shit, just like the rest of us.

Anyway. It’s a conversation we’ve had many times before and because she is so massive and omnipresent, I’m sure we’ll continue to have it. I think even the people here that don’t find her particularly genuine still enjoy her work, and I think that’s great! There’s much to be said about it all and I do love to point out when I think she’s being an ass, (see: the way she went about the marketing for reputation) and dragging certain issues out years longer than need be, but I do still see the human being under it all. And props to @Raichu for your work with your students! I think it’s great to have these conversations with kids and really allow them to express how they feel about it, and using pop culture as a reference point helps to put it into better perspective for them, I think. I wish more of my teachers had done stuff like that and I remember really loving it when they did.

Slice of Life

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