Feminist Writer Has Serious Words for Taylor Swift and Her “Nazi Barbie Routine”
Wyomissing native Taylor Swift is the subject of a scathing essay written by feminist Camille Paglia on The Hollywood Reporter. In it, she calls on the pop star to “retire that obnoxious Nazi Barbie routine of wheeling out friends and celebrities as performance props.”
Of course she’s talking about the guest-star roster that grew to mammoth proportions on her 1989 tour over the summer. At every stop she’d wheel out a new celebrity to sing a duet or dance around the stage with. Guests included everyone from Julia Roberts and Idina Menzel to Selena Gomez and Miranda Lambert. When she was in Philly in June, she welcomed supermodel Cara Delevingne and Mariska Hargitay. It was exciting for the crowd, who never knew what star would emerge from behind the curtain. But Paglia isn’t buying it.
The spectacle became somewhat of a joke. Blogs created virtual anthologies of all the guests and then there was the hilarious viral video, called “Please Welcome to the Stage,” that Paglia lovingly references in her piece.
On Instagram and other social media outlets, Swift started referring to many of her guests, and an exclusive gaggle of gal pals as her “squad.” It seemed eerily reminiscent of those Mean Girl cliques in high school.
Paglia writes that Swift could be setting a bad example with her “squad,” and warns her from letting it slide “into a cozy, cliquish retreat from romantic fiascoes or communication problems with men, whom feminist rhetoric too often rashly stereotypes as oafish pigs.” She continues:
In our wide-open modern era of independent careers, girl squads can help women advance if they avoid presenting a silly, regressive public image — as in the tittering, tongues-out mugging of Swift’s bear-hugging posse. Swift herself should retire that obnoxious Nazi Barbie routine of wheeling out friends and celebrities as performance props, an exhibitionistic overkill that Lara Marie Schoenhals brilliantly parodied in her scathing viral video “Please Welcome to the Stage.”
That’s not to say, though, that girl squads can’t be healthy and empowering to women:
Girl squads ought to be about mentoring, exchanging advice and experience and launching exciting and innovative joint projects. Women need to study the immensely productive dynamic of male bonding in history. With their results-oriented teamwork, men largely have escaped the sexual jealousy, emotionalism and spiteful turf wars that sometimes dog women.
If women in Hollywood seek a broad audience, they must aim higher and transcend a narrow gender factionalism that thrives on grievance. Girl squads are only an early learning stage of female development. For women to leave a lasting mark on culture, they need to cut down on the socializing and focus like a laser on their own creative gifts.
Check out the rest of the essay here.