Monday, December 14, 2015

Retire that obnoxious whatever-it-is routine, Camille

No, she didn’t out and out call Taylor Swift a Nazi.

But in her critique of girl squads in general, and Swift and her girl squads in particular, Paglia did write (italics are mine):

"Swift herself should retire that obnoxious Nazi Barbie routine of wheeling out friends and celebrities as performance props." (Source: Paglia’s essay in The Hollywood Reporter)
“Obnoxious Nazi Barbie routine,” huh?

Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, and I’m entirely sure that there are plenty of folks who find Swift obnoxious.

I’m not one of them.

I’m not a capital-f fan, but I have a few of her CD’s. I enjoy her music, and admire her business and fashion acumen. I find her smart, talented, and pretty darned adorable – in a sort of hard-headed business success kind of way.

Somewhat nasty to call her a Barbie, but I get it.

Just like Barbie, Swift is tall, blonde and leggy. And some may well find her plastic. Just like Barbie.

But what, pray tell, makes Swift’s routine “Nazi”?

Why choose that particular word?

Why not cute-sie, vapid, fake? Or steely, ice cold? There are plenty of other words that someone who doesn’t buy Swift’s act could have chosen.

I’m not following Swift’s career all that closely. Has she been wearing black leather with a red and white armband during her “routine”? Grown a brush mustache? Has she been singing about her admiration for Der Fuehrer? Thinking out loud how much fun it would have been to have Eva Braun as part of her girl squad? Tweeting anti-Semitic memes? Goosestepping off and on stage? Are her fans chanting Sieg Taylor?

I’m the old fashioned type and I think that the word Nazi should actually be reserved for those – or the obnoxious Barbie routines of those -  who, ah, are actually Nazi-like.

But Swift apparently gives Paglia flashbacks to a youth populated by fascist blondes. As in:

"Writing about Taylor Swift is a horrific ordeal for me because her twinkly persona is such a scary flashback to the fascist blondes who ruled the social scene during my youth,” she says of analyzing the pop star and her entourage.
I can buy that those blondes were bullying, snotty, mean, tribal, cutting, nasty. But Paglia is roughly my age – she’s a couple of years older – so I know what high school girls of her era looked and acted like. Hard to imagine fascists wearing Villager sweaters and skirts and penny loafers, and carrying Bermuda bags that matched their sweaters. Or debating whether the Beatles were greater than the Stones. Were all those well-to-do girls in my high school – or at least the blonde ones – some sort of secret fascists?

I guess that back then I was just too simple-minded to be able to form any type of brilliant cultural critique. The best I could come up with was that the rich girls weren’t as smart as the kids who couldn’t afford Papagallo flats and didn’t have Mustangs.

And my shallow approach to things cultural hasn’t gotten any deeper with age.

So it’s well beyond my ken when it comes to whether or not Taylor Swift has an obnoxious Nazi Barbie routine. Or whether she is, indeed, like those nasty girls of Paglia’s youth, just another fascist blonde.

The best I can come up with is to quote Taylor Swift herself:

The haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.\
 And I bet I know what Swift is gonna do. She’s gonna shake it off, shake it off.

Or maybe Swift will get in the shower and belt out a chorus or two of mean:
You, with your words like knives
And swords and weapons that you use against me
…Someday I'll be living in a big ole city
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
…Why you gotta be so mean?

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