Yesterday, Taylor Swift’s Vanity Fair excerpt was released, in which she said, in regards to a Golden Globes joke by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” (more on this quote later). Amy Poehler was asked about Taylor’s comment and had this to say to The Hollywood Reporter:
"Aw, I feel bad if she was upset. I am a feminist, and she is a young and talented girl. That being said, I do agree I am going to hell. But for other reasons. Mostly boring tax stuff. "
Tina Fey’s response was more pragmatic and a little sassy, as she told ET, “If anyone was going to get mad at us, I thought it would be James Cameron. I did not see that one coming. It was a joke, it was a lighthearted joke."
Both their reactions to Taylor’s hissy are so genius it’s like a mic drop and head pat all at once. Poehler and Fey’s dismissal shows how young and humourless Taylor Swift looks without even meaning to highlight how young and humourless Taylor Swift is. Run along Taylor, the adults are talking.
No apology, no compromise, no fake earnestness, no righteous defensiveness. This is how real people (not just women) handle their sh-t. Celebrities are always pulling out the placating, self-serving apology, but we expect better from Tina and Amy. And we got better. As a reader named Kate pointed out, it would be an honour to be gently ribbed by Tina and Amy.
But one of the many reasons Amy’s response in particular is so great is because she uses the F word so carelessly – she’s a feminist, and doesn’t play coy about it. Taylor may have brought up sexism, but it was only in the context of criticisms about her, her music, her style of writing. I feel like Taylor (and Lena Dunham, whose show I do enjoy) grew up in a world that thinks being a woman protects them from criticism, that saying the word "sexist" is a failsafe defense.
What women like Amy and Tina know is that being a woman only makes you MORE scrutinized, doubted, questioned, dismissed and maligned, which is why they know they need to be so much more awesome than their male counterparts to get the same respect and opportunities. Taylor won't overcome this wave of negative press if she doesn't wise up to the fact that just saying people are sexist towards her means NOTHING... especially when it's largely women who are starting to dislike her.
But why the growing faction of Taylor naysayers? Why was it OK to be the aw-shucks girl who everyone wanted to protect from the big bad rapper just 2 years ago? The girl who – so cute! – dated the boy with the same name as her? Why did we turn on Taylor Swift?
Is it the fickle nature of celebrity? Is it that we don’t want to see our teen stars evolve and grow? Is it because she’s a woman? Or is Taylor Swift simply overexposed? She has one of the most curious modern celebrity personas: she’s respected by other musicians, sells millions of albums, sells out shows, has a sunny disposition, a very aspirational yet attainable look … yet many people groan when they hear her name, even if they will happily sing along to her songs. But no one can really tell you why. Part of it is because just like Rooney Mara decided to co-opt “aloof,” Taylor has tried to make coy her thing. She won’t tell you anything about her love life, she’s too coy. She won’t answer any direct questions, she’s too coy. And that’s a persona people seem to be tiring of.
Look, Taylor’s ahead of the game in every way and is immensely talented and successful. Here’s a rich white girl with access… and her biggest trouble is boys. Well we’re not short on perspective here, are we? As she will repeatedly tell you, her ONLY trouble is boy trouble. Of course it is, because in this image she’s created, what else would it be? What else COULD it be?
What’s actually sexist is when an E! News Correspondent places photos of Miley and Taylor side-by-side for a “slut” face-off and says Taylor’s been with 13 guys in 3 years. (Click here to see.) This was messed up on so many levels: pitting two young females against each other, counting off how many men each woman has been with (and “been with” = photographed), and basically saying that if one is not a “slut”, the other one is.
That was barely a ripple to Taylor, and yet what she chose to take on was two of the funniest, most revered women in Hollywood making a tiny joke and it’s war. And she attributed the “special place in hell” quote to a very seasoned journalist in a very big magazine in a very calculated way. Notice how she said Katie Couric only heard the quote, and didn’t attribute it to Katie? She did her research – the quote is reportedly from Madeleine Albright. Taylor rehearsed that wording, for sure. It’s her deliberate way of saying if you are not with her, you are against her and against Women.
You are with Taylor or you are with Tina and Amy. Because women throwing down against each other over something petty is not at all a sexist stereotype, right Taylor? All this over a Golden Globes joke! Is it any wonder people think she’s ultra sensitive? Which as an artist, particularly a singer-songwriter, is a wonderful thing. But as a pop star who actively markets her feelings and banks on them being celebrated, sung and downloaded, she can’t expect the same impunity as someone like Fiona Apple.
And it doesn’t seem as if Taylor wants privacy per se, she just wants to control the message, which is what every celebrity wants to do. But if her ego is so big that she can’t let a joke like that go, she has trouble ahead that goes way beyond boys.
Attached -- Tina Fey at the Admission premiere last night.