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Why Do We Love to Hate Taylor Swift?

Aug 27 2013
Sweet or sexualized, young female celebrities get subjected to constant criticism.

If you're Taylor Swift, you get criticized for just about anything. There was plenty of ridiculousness to complain about during the recent MTV VMAs, but along with love for Justin Timberlake and confusion over Miley Cyrus, viewers insisted: We saw too much Taylor.

For some reason, at 23, Swift seems to have become both a chart-topping and award-winning artistand one of the most reviled singers of her generation. Critics say she spends too much time singing about her relationships and that her voice is weak—both not at all unusual for a singer these days, unfortunately.

The critical T-Swift narrative even inspired Abercrombie & Fitch to design a shirt just to make fun of her love life. She gets more mockery for singing about being a serial monogamist than many male singers do for singing about picking up random women.

Sadly for Swift, the criticism spills over into every other area of her life and work. It's as if she can do no right. This summer, she got slammed for wearing a bikini that covered up too much. That's the bizarre world of celebrity these days—a woman gets criticized just as much for covering up as for stripping down. When my local radio station posted a Facebook story about how Swift left a $500 tip at a restaurant, the comment section rapidly filled up with complaints about her being an overprivileged little showoff.

Perhaps Dodai Stewart at Jezebel best sums up the mindset of those who dislike Taylor just for being Taylor: "Some may argue that Taylor Swift is a role model, a class-act in the drugged-up, sexed-up music industry. But do we need another photogenic cisgendered carefree white girl singing heteronormative songs about mooning over boys?"

Leaving aside the sniping at her race, appearance, and sexuality, Swift—who's effectively taken charge of her own image and career—seems to get more criticism than most young starlets who are carefully prepackaged and managed by a television network or record label.

Whatever you think of her music (I myself would prefer to see her stick a little closer to her country roots and do less wandering off into pop territory), listeners recognize she brings her own vision to it and puts a lot of effort into her songwriting and performances.

Maybe that's why Swift hasn't felt compelled to go the way of so many of her fellow starlets. Not being a carefully polished product of someone else's imagination, she hasn't bolted to some shocking, sexually explicit extreme.

Related Topics:Music; Youth

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