The illusion of celebrity worship (II). An Editorial.
We’ll be safe and sound, Taylor Nation.
I’ve tackled the prickly subject of celebrity worship before. Sometimes you wish your favourite artists would remain small. Sometimes all this talk about a fandom community irks me the wrong way because I don’t believe we are of one mind, nor that we should be. I think I can state that we all might at some point have differing opinions regarding what it means to be a fan. I think I might be in the minority saying the following: I don’t think Taylor Swift needs anybody to defend her. If anybody can weather a media storm, it’s her.
I know Taylor has embraced a role that we often give celebrities: the one of idol or role model. For many, she’s become a second mom, a wise older sister (or younger in some cases) or just a mentor that seems to be there when we need her the most. That’s not her role. Taylor is a singer/songwriter, an entertainer, an artist, a public figure and an intellectual property. You can like her music, feel empathy for her as a human being and be appreciative about her work ethic, but she has no real responsibility for your own life. Celebrities do not raise children. Stop thanking late music artists for your childhood, they didn’t do it for you.
Often enough, it’s celebs themselves who believe this pop culture illusion. I’m not saying fandoms are not communities. They certainly share their lives with each other. They form bonds of friendship. For the artist’s management, it’s a blessing in disguise that they think of themselves as a family. Yes, often enough they’ll help each other, but the “parent” is a distant one. Taylor might have come closer than most in closing that distance – but often enough it has been a case of a few in an entire nation of many fans.
I don’t believe we should ever feel exclusively attached to one artist. I believe that’s almost as wrong as the people who only read one book all their lives. Diversify. Listen to everything. Explore your music. Do not stay in one place. If the artist is good enough, you’ll come back to them. You won’t be able to get their music out of your head. But don’t follow because your friends do. Don’t like things just because they’re the cool things to like. Being a fan of an artists should not be a matter of loyalty but of quality. It’s their craftsmanship that makes you keep listening.
The other side (of the door) might sound a little mercenary, but it’s also true. What do you do when you as a fan don’t like something else that an artist is selling? Well, you don’t buy it. That should be it and there really is no shame in it. I believe you’re still entitled to call yourself a fan regardless of things you don’t like. Some people like the firsts albums of a band before they changed their sound. Some fans love Star Wars but abhor the prequels. I like some Stephen King novels but I skip others. Everyone’s body of work contains particular stuff that some fans will prefer to skip, but they still will hold their favourites in high esteem.
Question your own taste once in a while. See what else is out there. You might find something else you love. Don’t worry, when Taylor is ready she’ll make sure you get to listen to her new stuff.
PS: Don’t you find it annoying when people bring you negative media articles that trash Taylor Swift just to see if they can get a rise out of you? I know, grown up people do this too. Don’t give them the satisfaction.
Coming up next in the Calendar:
- October 22: Taylor Swift headlines a special concert at the Formula 1 US Grand Prix.