How Not to Write About Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift is doing just fine, thanks for asking.
Photo by Groovehouse in Houston last week.
Taylor Swift is playing Cowboys Stadium on Saturday. Here are some important facts about Taylor Swift:
1. She made $57 million from May 2011 to May 2012, making her the highest-paid musician under 30 in that time period.
2. Her latest album, Red, has sold over 5 million copies since its October 2012 release, and the New York Times called it the second best album of the year.
3. She has 28 million followers on Twitter.
Those all make her one of the most powerful people in America. So I'm guessing she doesn't really need a lot of help with anything from anyone. And I'm positive she doesn't need either dating or career advice from the Dallas Morning News. That did not stop Rand Duren, however, from writing a blog post that is not only patronizing and dumb but also mind-bogglingly sexist. It's called "Taylor Swift is coming to Dallas; Here are 8 D-FW guys she could date, then write heartbreak songs about."
There's nothing inherently wrong about discussing a celebrity's love life -- we enjoy few things as a culture more than celebrities and love stories. But there is a tremendous and critical difference between caring about a famous person's love life and reducing that person to nothing but his or her love life. It's fine to laugh about some of the goofballs Taylor Swift has dated. It's not fine to give them credit for her success, partly because it's completely incorrect and partly because the people making that mistake would never do it to a male artist.
Kenny Chesney played Cowboys Stadium a couple weeks ago. There are break-up songs on his new album, too. Where's my "Kenny Chesney is coming to Dallas; Here are 8 D-FW gals he could date, then write heartbreak songs about" blog post?
Plenty of people have made this general ugly mistake with Taylor Swift over the last year, but few have done so with as much ham-fisted gusto as Duren. Let's start with the first two sentences of the blog post:
The Internet loves making fun of Taylor Swift's dating history. This is in most cases fueled by Swift's infamous songs about the guys she dates.
True, the Internet does love that. But the Internet does not have a great track record with reality-based chains of cause and effect. When you have to use the words "reportedly," "suspected" and "rumored" (twice) in one paragraph to support your claim, as Duren does immediately thereafter, your claim does not make any sense. The next few lines are the equivalent of saying, "I'm not racist, but..." ("She's young and she has the right to date as many guys as she feels comfortable dating."). And then my single favorite sentence of the whole thing:
Hopefully someday, after pulling out all the weeds she will be able to find her Prince Charming.
Prince Charming only shows up for damsels in distress. You know who's not in distress? Taylor freaking Swift. When both George W. Bush and the Obamas are declaring you a role model for a generation of young Americans, you are Prince Charming.
The blog post then meanders its way to an actual list of dudes with various ties to the Metroplex. How'd you pick these dudes, Duren?
I am not playing, some of these I chose because they are simply very handsome, others because they share qualities that previous boyfriends had, and some just because the idea seemed interesting.
Well alright then. If Taylor Swift had a Match.com profile, I'm sure she'd have those exact same requirements listed. But then, that assumes that Taylor Swift is interested in help on this front from anyone at all. Including me -- I'm not taking the time to say all this because I believe either Duren or I is in any kind of actual conversation with Taylor Swift herself.
But we both have a responsibility to avoid regressive discussions, and snickering about Taylor Swift's love life is not just another day of good times distraction on the Internet -- it's validating and emboldening those who believe women cannot achieve success without men.
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