Taylor Swift just dropped her new song, “Only The Young,” this week. The release coincides with the debut of her Netflix documentary, “Miss Americana.”
The song makes a big political statement [Rolling Stone] during a presidential election year. But making big political statements is not how Taylor Swift became a superstar.
Swift used to have the appeal of uncomplicated sweetness and wholesome charm. Her voice and image didn’t have anything to do with politics. She stood above it all.
But that’s all changed with “Only The Young” and “Miss Americana.” Now the country music icon’s business is to attack the president and one of her state’s senators.
She has hired out her voice to be employed for political purposes, corrupting the purity of her art. The boorish food fight that is U.S. politics is no place for Taylor Swift.
Great art is a wellspring of meaning. It doesn’t have an agenda. It certainly doesn’t have a political agenda. Art with a political agenda is hardly art at all.
It’s just propaganda.
Having a narrow agenda usually gets in the way of making truly captivating, resounding songs, or paintings, or stories. It produces third rate work like the throw-away melody and novice lyricism of “Only The Young.”
Taylor Swift’s agenda is to get more young people to vote in 2020. But she’s made it clear that she’s counting on that to push America’s political center to the left.
Here are some words she uses to rally the young:
You go to class, scared
Wondering where the best hiding spot would be
And the big bad man and his big bad clan
Their hands are stained with red
She’s blaming millions of people who’ve never hurt anyone for the actions of rampage killers. The system didn’t even merely fail in her mind.
Taylor Swift is holding half of our society responsible for the choices individuals made. But society isn’t to blame. Individuals are responsible for their own actions.
This is the ugly turn American politics has taken in recent years. And it’s bad enough that politicians and their adjuncts in the media do this now.
But it’s even worse that our kids can’t even listen to pop music anymore without being exposed to this new normal of bad faith hate-mongering.
Taylor Swift’s refrain is:
Only the young
Only one thing can save us
Only the young
But if that’s really true, shouldn’t Taylor Swift back pro-life politicians like Sen. Marsha Blackburn? It’s just a question. I’m not going to treat Taylor Swift the way she’s treating so many Americans, and sing a song about how her hands are stained red.
What Swift needs to understand is that the most controversial issues in politics are very nuanced. And that both sides want the best and have good reasons for believing what they do. That extends to older people, who’ve had a lot more life experience than younger Americans.
There’s a lot that young Americans can learn from their elders. And if the next generation is going to save us, it won’t be by tearing our parents and grandparents down.
Here’s what “Miss Americana” seems like to me. It seems like Taylor Swift is in that phase Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera – really any aging teen pop idol – went through. Where they “grow up” by becoming very forwardly sexual with their image.
But Swift’s version of rebelling is just that she’s really political now – and a Democrat. Which is actually super adorable. It’s even a bit endearing. But it is tough to watch politics claim and absorb yet another great artist this year.