I’m not a 30-something hetero dude who loves Taylor Swift, but I am a 20-something hetero dude who loves Taylor Swift. And I can say, quite honestly, that sexual attraction constitutes, like, less than 1% of my relationship to her. I think she’s quite pretty, and I like to bask in her prettiness, such as when she is riding bikes awesomely, for instance, but I think everyone relates to pop stars in this way. I relate to some male pop stars that way, for sure (e.g. Ren from NU’EST), and obviously, some gay dudes relate to female pop stars in that way. In fact, there’s something that happens between pop stars (including someone like PJ Harvey) and fans that is very… erotic, I think, without being sexual in the conventional sense. Or if not erotic, it can be very intimate, on the other hand, adjacent to sexual.
Maybe the reason why Taylor Swift’s Red sort of seems better to listen to, then, is that I really give no shits about her at all. I actually (“actually”, as if that’s a controversial stance) dislike her. I think, maybe, some of the 30-something guys that poptimistically defend her may just be lecherous and bad at heart. Because, come on, great is the pulchritude and purity of Tay Tay. She’s like a living, breathing J. Crew catalog that sings you lil songs about how much she loves you.
Here is an essay about someone I love liking Taylor Swift. It is written in a manner that allows me to respect that position, mostly because the lines quoted above are (a) true and (b) made me laugh. SUPERWORSE: Bridging the great and bloody Taylor Swift divide in our culture since 2012.
Hm. I mean, I don’t dispute your amusement, and I am all about mocking lecherous old dudes. That said, I feel as though (while there are probably a handful straight guys who do that) most of the 30-something guys that poptimistically defend her who I know (myself included) are queer? Not that I’ve ever done a tally or crunched numbers over at The Singles Jukebox or anything. And that most of the reaction from those guys (both queer and straight) who defend and/or like Taylor songs aren’t ones in which they’re the subject of her love songs, but ones in which they identify with Taylor or “Taylor” the narrative voice put forth by Taylor, or Taylor & Liz Rose or Taylor & Nathan Chapman or Taylor & Max Martin etc. in said songs. (At least within critical circles, which given the whole ‘poptimistically’ thing felt like the target of the sentence.)
I think maybe we had a conversation about this in that RockCriticRoundtable a while back. I forget.
Although it’s entirely possible that I just exist with critical circles that are both disproportionately queer and disproportionately fans of Taylor, so who knows, really.
It is a very good essay though! And the Kendrick album it mentions is also very good.
Not knocking the essay as a whole, but the idea that hetero guys who like pop music made by younger women must automatically be suspect pisses me off. 1) Really? 2) So we’re better off if hetero guys automatically dismiss pop music made by younger women instead of trying to engage with it, are we? 3) That must mean that I as a 30-something woman cannot have an intelligent thought about a Justin Bieber si—oh wait. 4) There is a whole range of valuable engagement to be had in the overlapping space between “I appreciate this performer’s art” and “I find this performer attractive” before you descend into “Sky Ferreira’s lips sure are sexxxy in this video har har” territory. If a 30-year-old dude admitted he found PJ Harvey hot, would that completely invalidate his fandom of her music?
No, seriously, I would like to know if people would actually assume I have a thing for the Bieb if I write about his songs. Instead of, yanno, assuming that (unlike for his younger fans) that aspect of it does not play into my response because HE IS TOO YOUNG FOR ME.
Also, I have been saying this nicely, but the “Taylor is oh so sickeningly pure” meme needs. To. Go.
Also, is it possible that straight guys frame their attraction to pop stars in decidedly sexualized terms (“Sky Ferreira’s lips sure are sexxxy,” as Sabina says above) because it’s so much scarier to acknowledge the power of pop stars that operates on another level? Because not only do pop stars sometimes turn us on, but they also sometimes are so powerfully charismatic that their agency, their will, seems to overpower our own. I think a lot more happens in the relationship between performers and audiences than the latter consciously comprehend, and so I’m always distrustful of blanket statements about “why we like something.” I also think we tend to interface with performers in ways that are familiar to us, but we almost always go beyond those when the performer is really great and/or when we are really receptive.
And yes, I’m so tired of any discussion of Taylor Swift and “purity,” whatever the hell that really means. Life is too short to have to choose between some abstraction of “purity” versus some abstraction of… whatever it is we are supposing the opposite of purity to be. Can’t I have both? That is to say, can’t I have artists who invoke the qualities of each? You’ll have to take these Karen Carpenter records out of my cold, dead hands.
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