Why Do We Love to Hate Taylor Swift?
Unfortunately, she's in the minority. We as a society rarely produce an adolescent female star who can turn into a woman without going wild. Unlike some, I'm not convinced that the whole process is deliberate. But almost invariably, yesterday's sweet little Hannah Montana becomes today's Miley Cyrus, singing about drugs and simulating sex acts in her underwear onstage.
Even when a young woman bucks the trend and manages to grow up with dignity relatively intact— the occasional mouthed curse word notwithstanding—our culture still can't seem to find much good to say about her. (Even if, let's be honest, they catch themselves singing along to her irresistibly catchy hits.)
No doubt it's more fun to join a virtual lynch mob than to look for the positive. But I wonder sometimes what young girls in our society are thinking, as they watch this sort of ritual hating of young female stars. Whether classy or trashy, covered-up or nearly nude, they still become a target for criticism.
The girls in our lives who idolize these singers and actresses notice what the media says and what we say about them as they mature. Honestly, we spend so much time tearing down young female celebrities that it gets hard for young fans to recognize any positive. Headlines declaring a pop star's DUIs and nude pics get blurred with those about poor fashion choices and performance gaffes.
The future of young female stars seems so "damned if you do, damned if you don't," and that kind of message ought to disturb us. If we can't offer a little support to the few who manage to survive teen stardom and keep their heads on straight, then we may be doing our part, however small, to condemn future starlets to following the self-destructive path of Miley, Lindsey, Britney, Amanda, and dozens of others. We're helping pile on the pressure for girls who already are dealing with more than enough of it. I'm not trying to say that we should all dump freely on the particularly disturbed young women in the headlines. But if we act like there's no discernible difference between the path that Taylor's taking and the path that Miley has taken, we're sending a very confusing message.
Nor am I saying Swift or any other star is above criticism. Nobody is, because nobody's perfect. I'm simply suggesting that maybe we should reconsider the way we talk about people, even people whom we've never met and whose position in the limelight seems to make them fair game.
If, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:36, we will be held accountable for even our most careless words, we ought to think twice before we use those words in a hurtful or unkind way. They may never reach the ears of Taylor Swift—but for the young daughter or niece or neighbor listening to us speak, they may make all the difference in the world.
To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.