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Commentary: [Fill this blank space]

 

Taylor-Swift-Blank-Space-2014-1500x1500

Ms. Swift is one smart gal. She easily raised her brand recognition and converted me into a Swiftie by declaring her product rare.

Well, not exactly. I haven’t bought 1989. But after releasing 2 catchy singles from the album, ones that I might argue as her best beats ever, she’s led me to iTunes so I could do a preview on all 14 tracks.

I also found out that she’s hosted a series of secret parties and treated fans with a special app (iOS, Android) as an additional experience to her product. All that, and I couldn’t help but admire her as an artist.

Her comeback made me realize that over the past couple of years, the image I’ve had in my head of her has been saturated by the media – it’s this crazy, volatile girl who can’t stay single for long and takes revenge of ex-boyfriends with her guitar while making money out of it. There’s even a whole Wiki page dedicated to her love life.

If I were her, I would’ve been defeated by now … but with her latest works, it just shows how strong a character she is.

Some of you know I used to work in the media1. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but if you look at the history of respected journalists, you’ll see that they’re the ones who’ve stuck by the truth, while others sensationalize stories just to gain more readership.

I’m not saying I’m a legit journo per se, and I don’t pretend to be a pro blogger here, but I try to amass the most trusted sources of info about Tay in order to come up with this argument. It’s just that in this economic climate, it’s clear that people are desperate. It doesn’t help that all the temptations to compromise our integrity are at your disposal.

Most people are fighting for jobs in the industry, and they’re willing to say anything on paper so see the traffic coming. To keep the masses talking, you have to keep giving them what they want, and it’s so easy for most of us to simplify and objectify Taylor Swift (and other celebs) as a public persona with no human emotion, judging from all the 5% facts you see and the 95% facts of her life you don’t get to see. So that’s what the media keeps feeding you: She’s an object for a specific scope of discussion, that is, her serial dater image.

 

Morality erodes fast when job security is growing scarce. Now that the citizens’ voice is bringing power to the profitability of the press, more so than the “real” truth behind the stories they print, it’s no wonder that all we get about Taylor Swift are cherry-picked facts. Over the course of her career, these filters have only accrued to one big, popular opinion of her that most of us don’t know are just made up of untrue, unreliable content all juxtaposed out of context – it’s like a giant mirror that’s constantly forming and standardizing illusions of you as an object more than it reflects who you really are. It completely disregards the subjective nature of your soul.

Thing is, it’s not your fault that you’ve subconsciously bought into the idea of this crazy-serial-dater-girl image of Taylor Swift, especially if you’re just a casual reader of her professional life like I was. I believe it’s the same case for those of you who are casual listeners of Taylor Swift. We don’t bother to look beyond the papers we get, the papers that are supposed to inform us, not mislead us. It’s why we often find humming “22” and singing “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” in the shower a guilty pleasure.

We may naturally dig her stuff, but in the back of our heads we hold the fact that she’s dated Joe Jonas, John Mayer, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Harry Styles, then wrote songs about them all. Yes, these are the facts, but the conclusions your sources of information have made about those facts are opinions. These days, information outlets are often penned by uninformed persons with individual personalities and preferences, and if that outlet happens to be part of some major corp that enjoys higher streams of profit than the rest of the press, competitors can’t help but feel the need to print a similar material so you will buy their stuff too. People need jobs.

In the end, instead of serving you as an informant, the media is now making you all the more uninformed.

If you think about it, Taylor is just someone who’s been given a blank canvas to paint. She’s an artist whose job is to express herself in ways that inspire you and entertain you. But for some reason, her personal life has attracted a wider spectacle than her job (as with most celebs). In addition to that lack of privacy, she’s been criticized more than any other country music stars of this day. Heck, she might even be the most criticized female artist of our generation. Either she’s not country enough or too beautiful for fans to relate. Either she can’t really sing, or she’s way too thin for a non-model. It’s like everything she does is wrong, and because her personal life has been so public, regular people find it hard to take her seriously. Not everybody knows she’s got an experimental personality, not everybody knows she’s first and foremost a songwriter, not everybody knows her parents have been exposing her to a variety of genres growing up (Bruce Springsteen AND Britney Spears), and not everybody knows that she’s been taking vocal lesson since she was 9.

The natural thing to do for a strong, vocal character like her isn’t defeat. It’s gathering focus again on people who matter – her family, friends, and fans – and come up with 1989. The players gonna play play play play play, and the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate, but nobody else gets to decide whether your creative expressions are going to hit it big in the market. It’s just you and your true fans, as with all forms of commercial art. No matter how solid this man-eater image the media has planted in the minds of the mass, her real supporters are going to liquidate the backlash in the long haul. They’re going to continue finding more value in what she does compared to what the fake informants are telling them about her.

This is classic permission marketing: You’re not made for everybody. It’s why servicing the mass doesn’t work. Seth Godin has been preaching about this in all of his 18 books, and Taylor’s did it in the practical world: She’s speaking only to those who want to listen, she’s clearly informed about the perceptions of her, she retains her country Nashville roots in her pop album for her fans, and of course, her pulling out from Spotify and other music streaming services. Casual listeners will unsubscribe in nonchalance, but true fans will  invest in her value. This ultimately brought a revival to album sales.

Bottom line: You don’t know if she’s a man-eater or just a normal girl coming of age unless you know her personally. Many girls I know and I myself have went on dates with as many2 guys as she does. Some of us may write books out of this chapter of our lives, while others may paint masterpieces or design buildings or even travel the world solo to figure out our deepest emotions. I believe T.S. is no different. As Hippocrates once said, life is short, art is long. It’s why artists do what they do. Should onlookers who only cared to give a second’s glance at their art claim they can determine the worth of it more than the artist herself does, Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” is what you’ll get.

 

Nice to meet you
Where you been?
I could show you incredible things
Magic, madness, heaven, sin
Saw you there and I thought oh my god
Look at that face, you look like my next mistake
Love’s a game, wanna play

New money, suit and tie
I can read you like a magazine
Ain’t it funny rumors fly
And I know you heard about me
So hey, let’s be friends
I’m dying to see how this one ends
Grab your passport and my hand
I could make the bad guys good for a weekend

So it’s gonna be forever
Or it’s gonna go down in flames
You can tell me when it’s over
If the high was worth the pain
Got a long list of ex-lovers
They’ll tell you I’m insane
Cause you know I love the players
And you love the game

‘Cause we’re young and we’re reckless
We’ll take this way too far
It’ll leave you breathless
Or with a nasty scar
Got a long list of ex-lovers
They’ll tell you I’m insane
But I got a blank space baby
And I’ll write your name

Cherry lips, crystal skies
I could show you incredible things
Stolen kisses, pretty lies
You’re the king baby I’m your queen
Find out what you want
Be that girl for a month
But the worst is yet to come, oh no

Screaming, crying, perfect storms
I could make all the tables turn
Rose garden filled with thorns
Keep you second guessing like, oh my god
Who is she? I get drunk on jealousy
But you’ll come back each time you leave
‘Cause darling I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream

Boys only want love if it’s torture
Don’t say I didn’t say I didn’t warn you
Boys only want love if it’s torture
Don’t say I didn’t say I didn’t warn you

 Footnote(s):

  1. and still is, if you consider blogging as the press []
  2. or more []
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