Friday, May 20, 2011

Why Ya Gotta Be So Mean? (And Full Of Ridiculous Expectations)

Taylor Swift's new music video for her song 'Mean' just dropped. It's yet another adorable song written by the equally adorable country singer who couldn't be more adorable if she were a freshly fluffed, large eyed puppy that floated down on a Lisa Frank rainbow cloud and pooped Skittles. It's also yet another song in a string of pop songs by the biggest names in music in the past 2-3 years that focus on building up the self-esteem of teenagers. P!nk, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Selena Gomez, and the list goes on. They've all been putting out songs that speak specifically to pre-teens and teenagers that feel left out, picked on, and otherwise cast out from the mainstream.

Now, I have to admit, I love this.

Even better, these same artists have been churning out music videos that feature gay & lesbian teenagers, brainy kids, kids that aren't beautiful in ways society says are beautiful, and pretty much every perceived negative stereotype out there.

There's also been an equally growing trend correlating with the rise in popularity of these songs: the very groups these artists are singing about, depicting in positive ways, and otherwise attempting to uplift are bitching.

For example: When Lady Gaga put out 'Born this Way' it was originally received with open arms by the gay community. She was specifically singing about how people are amazing, despite their color, creed, or sexual orientation, and the gays got exceptionally pissed about it. They said she was pandering, that she was using those minority groups as a way to advance her popularity and sell records. And my question to them was what more do you want? We've said for years that we want mainstream acceptance, positive images of our minority groups in the public eye and validation by the biggest names in the industry.

And we're getting it. And we're spitting on it.

And then today there's the Taylor Swift music video. Gays across Twitter are complaining, because the gay kid in her music video is a lilac sweater wearing nerd who gets picked on by the football team and then eventually becomes a famous fashion designer. The complaint from the gays? "Would somebody tell Taylor Swift that not all gay boys dream of growing up and becoming fashion designers. How dare she pander to stereotypes like that!"

Really?

I am at a loss. If you give the gays a cookie, they'll bitch because you put it in a lilac sweater. Or...you know...something like that. What do YOU think about the recent string of uplifting songs? What do YOU think about the way in which they have been portraying gays, lesbians, nerds, "ugly" kids, etc? Is it pandering? Is it a sign of a greater social awakening and move towards acceptance? The Swift video for 'Mean' is below. Watch it and leave your feedback in the comments section.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

7 comments:

  1. I admit I don't keep up with pop music much, and have little idea who these people are, but I do respect them for putting forth a message that they appear to care about, in as positive a medium as they can.

    As for people getting offended... damned if you do and damned if you don't, I believe that's the common phrase. Some people simply aren't happy unless they have something to be offended about. They'll find something wrong with it, even if it's innocuous, simply because they had already decided they were going to find fault with it. IMO, anyway. :)

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  2. I love all the uplifting songs that are coming out in light of the bullying epidemic as well as the movements to stop bullying. As someone who was bullied in school, I would have loved to have songs like these to listen to when I was going through that time in my life. I know that I found stuff to jam to, not that I can remember anything specific right now, but the point is that I got through it!

    I agree with Luna when she said people are "damned if you do and damned if you don't." These musicians aren't trying to make money off of anyone. They're trying to reach out to their fans who are going through tough times, and each artist is doing so in his or her artistic medium! They are trying to show bullies that what they're doing isn't ok and tell the bullied that they are each perfect the way they are and that life gets better.

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  3. Let me answer this from the perspective of a now adult drama kid. It's not pandering to grow up, become something "beautiful," and have a desire to be vocal about being yourself. I think the "it gets better" campain also points out in so many ways that we are all butterflies, whether the people around us see it or not. I grew into my looks, body, and talent. So did all the other now-fabulous people I knew "back when." that's life. I say this from years of being on the fringes of a very bitchy gay clique : to bitch is life. The rest is just bitterness. I appreciate that you are onto this discrepancy and willing to broadcast it.

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  4. I just wonder if it's an illustration of just how many member of non-mainstream communities have based their social identities around their victimization. I have many GLT friends who absolutely LOVE "Born This Way". But then, none of my GLT friends have ever had a victim mentality, which is why the possible correlation comes to mind.

    I'm bi myself, so I don't count myself in the above group. I have to say, it's kind of hard to stereotype us, in my experience we seem to be a pretty banal group. Pretty sad considering all of our literary, Bohemian role models who were fabulous.

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  5. I'm not gay, but I am a mom to 2 kids, one of who adores every note sung from the frothy pop princess's dulcet vocal chords. So I showed them both the video, they asked for explanations as to what was going on in it, went "oh" and went on their merry ways (well except my daughter, the aforementioned Taylor Swift fan, who wanted to see more of her videos while I had my laptop open)

    Now while I can see how the gay community might see this as pandering, as a mom, I rather *like* that Miss Swift took this on in her music. This is a statement from a singer with a "wholesome" (Lordy I hate that word, but it so applies to her) kid-friendly reputation saying gay bashing or any kind of bullying is not OK. My kids sang along to the chorus and probably will want to hear the song (over and over and over and over) again when it comes on the radio. I'm sure they'll recognize that it was a broad stereotype she used (because of the actual gay men we know, none would be interested in that lavender sweater or even remotely interested in fashion design) either now or sometime soon. But the point is that the most adorable diva of the moment gave a cherry flavored lip balm kiss towards promoting acceptance in a very public way. I don't know that her message was meant to be dissected by gay culture gurus as much as it was to be hummed along to by kids, who will grow up to vote and hopefully ensure LGBT people's civil rights, even for the ones who are bitching their asses off about it now

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  6. *shakes head* I smell a Glee number coming-on! (The girl can write a song like nobody's business...but she still can't sing.)

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  7. Anything that makes the awkward teenage years easier is good as far as I'm concerned. When you're a teen you tend to feel alone, like no one will listen. When these songs come out they speak with words we can't form ourselves. They're an emotional outlet for ourselves!
    I'm 20 and Katy Perry's song 'Pearl' is getting me through to hard times right now.

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