Pop star Taylor Swift's new album, Reputation, is on its way to setting sales records. So it's a good time to slag the performer for being insufficiently politically correct, right? Or, more precisely, for being insufficiently political. The editors at Marie Claire, "a fashion publication with character, substance, and depth for a woman with a point of view and a sense of humor," think so:
The article does acknowledge that last November, a sweater-clad Swift did post an Instagram pic from a line at a polling place with the caption, "Today is the day, get out and VOTE," but come on, right?
Some people interpreted her sweater as confirmation that she was casting a vote for Hillary Clinton (see this post by Lena Dunham for explanation of the theory), but that's a far cry from stating her political stance outright. Taylor is not required to be open about her politics, of course, but it's also fair to question her decision to remain silent in what was a particularly contentious and consequential presidential battle.
As former Reason scribe Charles Paul Freund (read his masterpiece "In Praise of Vulgarity: How Commercial Culture Liberates Islam—and the West") was fond of saying, nothing bothered Soviet cultural commissars more than American pop tunes about puppy love and driving aimlessly around in cars. More than Elvis and Little Richard, who at least freaked out the older generation, Paul Anka and Neil Sedaka were perceived as bigger threats to the USSR precisely because they represented a complete absence of revolutionary potential. In a society in which everything was about politics and ideology, the most revolutionary act was to simply ignore politics and ideology, if only for a few minutes.
And so it is in the contemporary United States, where, to paraphrase George W. Bush's much-derided statement after the 9/11 attacks, you're either with us or against us (Bush himself was paraphrasing one of Jesus' most-dualistic statements in the New Testament). For the entirety of the 21st century, it seems, more and more parts of our lives are being infected by partisanship of the dumbest and rankest form. Marie Claire is hardly the only or even the worst outlet when it comes to insisting that Taylor Swift join the barricades or STFU, but it's always worth pointing out that very few people want to live in a world where every goddamned thing is drafted for political purposes. The Kiss Army is right to remain neutral.
Indeed, one of the main reasons I fell in with libertarians is precisely because their vision of the world is predicated upon squeezing areas in which politics operates to its minimum so we can get on with living our lives. Even if we live to be 200 years old (and we will, someday!), life will always be too short to fight over which celebrity should vote for which candidate. If a public figure wants to use her fame to advance this or that cause, issue, or candidate, more power to them. But as basketball legend and recidivist public nuisance Charles Barkley put it way, way back in 1993, "I am not a role model." In many, perhaps most, ways the personal is the political, but not in the grim partisan way that the Marie Claires and the Breitbarts of the world seem to insist.
There is plenty to criticize Taylor Swift about—Marie Claire notes in passing she tried to legally quash the speech of neo-Nazis who were claiming her as one of their own, her decision to screw her fans by ditching Spotify, and her ditching of Tim Hiddleston come to mind—but not being sufficiently partisan? Please. That way madness, or at least bitterness, or Phil Ochs, lies.
In 2014, Remy and Reason TV decided to shake it off: