Taylor Swift has gone through a metamorphosis, shifting from a 16-year-old country music singer to a “woke” social justice warrior. She’s moved on from cowboy boots and sundresses to sexy 1950s starlet outfits. The sweet-faced, curly-haired teenager is all grown up into a sultry, hanging-out-with-the-drag-queens pop star. We’ve never seen that sort of transformation before in the entertainment industry, have we?
The singer, long silent on political issues, has emerged from her chrysalis to support LGBT pride, the deceptively-named “Equality Act,” and GLAAD. (GLAAD used to be an acronym for “Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation,” but in order to be more inclusive of bisexual- and transgender-identified individuals, the group is now just GLAAD.)
Unfortunately, Swift has picked legislation where she couldn’t be more wrong.
The entertainer posted a letter on June 1st to her Senator, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, urging him to support H.R. 5, the “Equality Act.” She also started a petition to the U.S. Senate, wishing them a “Happy Pride Month” and encouraging passage of that legislation.
Last week she released a new song, smack-dab in the middle of LGBT pride month, “You Need to Calm Down”:
So oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh
You need to calm down, you’re being too loud
And I’m just like oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh (oh)
You need to just stop
Like can you just not step on my gown?
You need to calm down
With thoughtful, expressive lyrics like that, what’s not to like?
While the music video has received some criticism (haters gonna hate, after all) it now has almost 54 million views. Evidently the video has a lot of “Easter eggs” (hidden jokes – yeah, I spent a lot of time on the internet learning way too much about Swifties and pop culture). If you want to dig deep into the lyrics, New York Magazine’s Vulture gives its take. Who knew that “So oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh” could pack in so much meaning?
Here’s my short synopsis. Swift’s video begins with her waking up in a Barbie-doll pink 1950’s style motor home, which begins to burn down after her cell phone sparks a fire. After making a cotton candy and champagne drink, she strolls through a fabulous trailer park, looking fabulous, and nodding and smiling at other fabulous celebrities.
In her jaunt she encounters a number of guys in drag, impersonating singers like Lady Gaga, Adele and Ariana Grande. The video also features a number of LGBT-identified folks like RuPaul, Ellen DeGeneres, and Adam Lambert. Billboard has a full list of the cameos, just in case you, like me, aren’t up enough on pop culture to recognize them all.
About a third of the way into the video, the bigoted villains appear. Of course they are toothless, dirty, scary-looking, flag-wearing Christian cretins who are protesting the trailer park’s inhabitants and a same-sex wedding. Their protest signs read: “Adam +Eve NOT Adam + Steve” and “Homasekualty is SIN!” and “Get a brain, Morans!” Not very subtle. The video winds up with a cake fight, which the protestors finally join, and there’s a plug to sign Swift’s petition supporting H.R. 5.
There’s a lot going on in this heavy-handed propaganda piece: Taylor Swift is not happy with those who attack her on social media; she and singer Katy Perry are now friends again (Perry dressed as a cheeseburger and Swift as a box of French fries); and she loves the “Equality Act.”
Swift’s campaign and video will influence a lot of her fans. But it’s misguided and ill-informed. H.R. 5 redefines “sex” in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal legislation so that it no longer means “male or female.” Instead, “sex” is broadened to include: a sex stereotype; pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition; sexual orientation or gender identity; and sex characteristics, including intersex traits.
The act also eliminates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a defense for violations. Essentially, it strips freedom of religion and speech from citizens. When similar legislation and policies have been enacted at local, state and federal levels, they have seriously threatened the freedom of numerous individuals and groups.
If H.R. 5 passes, faith-based foster care and adoption agencies who work with government agencies will be forced to shut down – or give up their belief that children deserve homes with a mother and father. This has already happened in cities and states with SOGI laws, including Boston; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Buffalo, New York; and Illinois.
If H.R. 5 passes, hospitals and medical professionals will be forced to perform abortions; the legislations inclusion of “pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition” ensures that. The law politicizes medicine, forcing hospitals and medical professionals to prescribe drugs and hormones and offer surgeries for those with gender dysphoria – even against their religious beliefs. Hospitals have already been sued in states with SOGI laws.
If H.R. 5 passes, the privacy and safety of men, women and children will be threatened. The measure opens up locker rooms, showers, dressing rooms and restrooms to anyone on the basis of the subjective “gender identity.” If H.R. 5 passes, girl’s and women’s sports will be open to men who believe they are women, regardless of biological reality.
In addition to her ill-informed support of bad legislation, Taylor Swift’s caricature of those who believe God’s design for sexuality and marriage is hypocritical, offensive and malicious. While calling for civility in social media, she attacks people of faith with her music video.
I’ve been part of churches and Christian organizations for almost 60 years. Of course I’ve met people who are ill-informed or mean-spirited toward LGBT-identified individuals. But in the main, I’ve found that Christians are kind, respectful and loving. Most want to bring people to Christ, help them grow in the faith and support them as they pursue healing and holy living.
I’m not speaking hypothetically, I’m writing as someone who struggled with homosexuality and identity issues. When I began sharing my story with men and women in the church, I found a great deal of support, kindness and love. Christians demonstrated care for me – while still holding to the truth of God’s male-female design for sexuality and relationships.
Instead of supporting illiberal legislation and bashing people of faith, wouldn’t it be great to see some music videos celebrating freedom and lives transformed by the gospel?
- Focus on the Family’s Plugged In has a review of “You Need to Calm Down.”
- “Equality Act” – An Assault on Freedom, Privacy and Safety
- The “Equality Act” Would Mark the End of Religious Conscience
- If The Equality Act Passes, Women Will Be Vulnerable in Restrooms Across The Country
Photo from Taylor Swift’s Youtube