Post four about Taylor Swift. How on earth did we get here? I suppose it’s because, for better or for worse, she’s managed to attain the kind of pop culture prevalence and staying power which has resulted in my writing:
- on a criticism of her song “Mean”, which developed into a discussion on her views on feminism and the strength of her influence
- a condemnation of the gleeful online push to have a “creepy 39 year old” win a contest to meet the star and smell her hair
- a further exploration of her influence, views on feminism, and how the way we view her music contains a clear double standard
Which brings us to this Friday, three days after the artist donated $1,989 to a fan to help her pay off her student loans.
The fan in question, Rebekah Bortnicker, created a video which she posted to tumblr, and which I’m half-watching as I write this. It’s actually pretty great. You know what else is actually pretty great, though? The way that some people have been reacting to this news, like nicole and Angela in the comments section of the People article I linked to up above:
Surprise! I was being sarcastic! This shared opinion is one that I fundamentally disagree with! I do want to be semi-reasonable, though, so allow me to begin by saying that these two women are not entirely wrong. There are people out there who are homeless, starving, stricken with terminal illnesses, and too poor to be able to go to school. Furthermore, Taylor Swift could have “done more than that for society”. All that is entirely correct, and I will not argue with it.
What I do want to argue with is this assertion that, celebrity status aside, some good deeds are fundamentally lesser than others.
That’s essentially what this is, if we want to boil it down to its very essence. Why didn’t Taylor Swift do more? Why isn’t she pouring that money into cancer research, or even wasting time putting together elaborate gifts when she could be donating that time to raising awareness about child prostitution? I can only imagine that these people walk alongside their friends and, when they see them giving a quarter to the homeless, ask them why they didn’t give $5.
Here’s the thing: Taylor Swift didn’t have to do anything.
No, it’s not a lot of money for someone who has more platinum records than I care to count [and the resulting profits from said accomplishments]-
That being said, it’s an expression of gratitude to a fan who did something cool, and it’s entirely her own prerogative. Yes, of course we could go into whether or not this was actually her own decision or that of savvy PR people [given that the amount fits the title of her latest album], but I’m willing to look at the handwritten letter and assume the best in this case.
Taylor Swift helped someone pay off their student loans, the crushing weight of which should be no secret to anyone in our [my] generation.
To once again to set aside the issue of her being a spotlit celebrity, the other reason this irks me so much is that this same argument is so often used against that which I am passionate about. “Why are you making a big deal out of [insert race-related/feminist issue here] when there are bigger problems in the world?” Seriously, I read these comments and . . .
Anyone who has taken a Logic course [I have not] should be able to tell you what’s wrong here. It’s people saying that “because the problem you are spending time working against is not equal in size and scope to this other one, it is unimportant.” I guess the question I would have to ask in response is, “If something is good, is it not always good, regardless of comparison?”
Giving money to people struggling with student debt is good. Campaigning for more diversity in popular media is good. Complaining about the oversexualization of female characters in comic books and elsewhere is good. On that same note, so is donating your time to a soup kitchen or giving money towards a number of charitable causes. What’s not good is spending the effort to criticize when other people do good things. This helps literally no one.
Try to make the world a better place. Don’t side eye other people when they’re ostensibly doing the same thing. The end.