They say you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and when it comes to the diversity police at Slate and other liberal outlets, all too often you can’t please any of them, ever. Taylor Swift is Slate’s target this week, after one writer slammed her latest single as “annoying,” “pathetic,” and “hopelessly, insultingly out of place,” and another attacked her for a concert appearance at a gay rights movement landmark, because there was a Republican involved in the event promotion company.
“You Need to Calm Down,” Swift’s new song from her upcoming album “Lover,” dropped this week, along with a sherbet-hued lyric video that spells out the peppy verses advocating against anti-LGBT prejudice. Lyrics question “why are you mad when you could be GLAAD?” (a reference to the LGBT media monitoring organization) and extol the fun of attending a gay pride parade while counterprotesters fester in their misery (“Sunshine in the streets at the parade / But you would rather be in the dark ages / Making that sign / Must have taken all night”).
All in all, it’s a fairly standard little pop song, complete with all the production values a pop star like Swift can hire a team to provide.
It’s not Swift’s first foray in to LGBT advocacy — earlier this month she posted an open letter encouraging the Senate to pass the Equality Act and has long been a public supporter of LGBT rights — but apparently the standard of behavior required these days to be a true “ally” has been raised above all practical common sense.
Slate’s Christina Cauterucci was vicious in her denunciation of the song in an article titled, “Taylor Swift’s New Single Is a Teachable Moment About How Not to Be an Ally,” dismissing it as “queer-baiting” and a “careless pat on the head” to the LGBT community that’s “hopelessly, insultingly out of place,” “like watching a straight bachelorette party go nuts at a drag show.”
Among Swift’s unforgivable crimes, Cauterucci lists her “lyrical laziness” and a comparison to Lady Gaga’s song from eight years ago, “Born This Way,” complaining that Swift 1) is not bisexual like Lady Gaga and 2) the gay rights movement has more “mainstream traction” now so Swift’s song isn’t as revolutionary.
Complaining about lyrical laziness in modern pop songs is like complaining that the ocean has water in it — personally, I’m a fan of a lot of Swift’s music and look forward to this new album’s return to a more joyful, cotton-candy aesthetic — but the criticism of Swift not being able to be a gay rights pioneer in 2019 is both bizarre and unfair.
“Swift is clearly coming out in support of gays, which is much better than being against gays,” Cauterucci grudgingly acknowledged, but then claims that “Swift is promoting ‘You Need to Calm Down’ like it’s going to be the straw that breaks homophobia’s back.” That’s not an accurate statement; the promotion for this song has been in line with other recent Swift song launches, and her initial tweet simply had a photo showing Swift’s back with a presumably temporary tattoo showing the Revolution-era snake expanding into a swarm of butterflies and a link to the video, and the nonsense word “Gxgjxkhdkdkydkhdkhfjvjfj.”
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) June 14, 2019
Swift clearly likes her new song and is happy to share it with her fans, but none of her posts indicate she’s claiming to be creating a societal-shifting movement. She just supports LGBT rights and wants to dance with her friends and have fun.
Here’s a radical idea: maybe it’s a good thing a gay rights anthem by a pop star isn’t a revolutionary act.
I’ve long taken a libertarian view on this issue. (Two consenting adults should be able to marry, but legislatures need to address the issue because of the familial, property, and tax issues involved, and to protect religious liberties for churches, synagogues, etc. that should not have to conduct ceremonies contrary to their beliefs.) It’s a positive development that it is no longer a major headline if a famous athlete or actor comes out as gay, or if a popular television show or movie features gay characters.
Becoming mundane is becoming mainstream. If it’s no longer newsworthy if a celebrity is gay, that says something about societal acceptance. For the millions of LGBT Americans who just want to go to work, raise their families, and live their lives, it’s an inherently positive development that being gay is no longer shocking or stigmatizing, that the pressure to stay in the closet is diminishing, and they can just go about their day.
It’s an inherently positive development…except, apparently, in the eyes of the woke left. Swift’s open advocacy for a federal LGBT rights bill and vocal support for LGBT people isn’t enough, and it’s not entirely clear what would satisfy their demands.
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has been a surprisingly competitive contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, has received similar attacks, including from Slate’s Cauterucci again, bemoaning that this “run-of-the-mill white male candidate” was insufficiently oppressed to qualify for the full set of gay bonus points.
Buttigieg came out while in office, married his boyfriend Chasten, and was reelected in a landslide. His small town constituents clearly weren’t bothered by his sexual orientation.
Both Buttigieg and his husband tend to favor the short haircut, button-down shirt and khakis look sported by many dads roaming around the suburbs. The fact the mayor of a small town isn’t walking around with rainbow glitter in his hair and tight leather pants doesn’t make him less gay, or his marriage to another man any less valid. If you support gay rights, isn’t it a good thing for an openly gay man married to another man to be able to be elected to public office?
It’s yet another example of the left continually redefining diversity to increasingly narrow and distorted meanings. Pete Buttigieg is gay, but he’s a Christian and dresses like an accountant, so it doesn’t count. Taylor Swift supports LGBT rights but is doing it with fluffy little pop songs instead of rioting in the streets or whatever mysterious act of contrition would satisfy the Cauteruccis of the internet, so it doesn’t count.
And heaven forbid a Republican want to be an ally. Nope, no room in the tent.
As mentioned above, Slate’s complaints about Swift include AEG, the live-event promotion company that organized Swift’s recent Reputation tour and a concert this month at the Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 riots that are viewed as launching the gay rights movement in America.
AEG’s sin is that its owner, billionaire Philip Anschutz, is (gasp!) a Republican who has donated to Republican candidates and causes. Slate, this time through writer Matthew Dessem, attacks Anschutz for donating to what he characterizes as “anti-LGBT” groups, specifically that Anschutz’s foundation had given “more than $100,000 to the Alliance Defending Freedom between 2011 and 2013″ and had also donated to the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and the Heritage Foundation.
On the other hand, Anschutz also donated $1 million last year to the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s LGBT Fund, which helps battle AIDS in Africa and has publicly stated that he “unequivocally support[ed] the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation.”
Past support of an organization that was legally advocating for traditional marriage is enough to get Anschutz permanently blacklisted as a “hater” in the eyes of Slate’s writers. There’s no public statement of support, even giving literally a million dollars to a worthy cause, that can be sufficient to earn redemption.
And Swift garners their wrath for daring to enter into a business arrangement with this “hater” Republican to schedule her concert appearances (with a bonus freebie attack on capitalism!):
It’s true what Swift sings: Haters are going to hate. But you don’t have to donate money to them, like Anschutz did. There’s no ethical employment under capitalism, but if you have the kind of power and wealth Taylor Swift has, you don’t have to keep helping haters get richer if you don’t want to. And if all else fails, you don’t have to sing about it at the Stonewall Inn during Pride Month.
It must be exhausting to be that outraged all the time, and to feel such pressure to be constantly searching for new reasons to denounce people as haters.
Well, as Swift herself sings, “haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate,” so I doubt she’ll be harmed by this trumped-up outrage. “You need to calm down,” Slate, and learn to just enjoy some silly happy pop songs.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.