Taylor Swift is getting attacked from more directions than are found in an Ikea instruction manual. While her new single Look What You Made Me Do is breaking records for views, the reaction from most of those views is something between confusion and uncomfortable confusion. The song was heavily influenced by Right Said Fred’s song I’m Too Sexy, which is like a major motion picture being heavily influenced by that George Clooney Batman movie where one of the fight sequences randomly breaks out into a game of ice hockey.
But not all of Swift’s criticism is warranted. The Huffington Post and other media outlets recently reported on Taylor being booed at her childhood friend’s wedding for not greeting fans who had “waited out the day in the rain” to get a glimpse of their idol. Instead of taking selfies with the water logged fans, Swift’s security team held up a curtain as Swift walked from the church to the car – meanwhile, her fans screamed things like, “We thought you loved your fans!” and ““Very disappointing, not cool.”
As many commenters were quick to point out, Taylor Swift was likely not ignoring her fans out of spite, but to ensure that the focus of the day stayed on the bride. In any event, Swift was at someone else’s private event, in a church, on an island – she didn’t owe those fans anything no matter how long they stood in the rain. The point of an island is so that you don’t have to talk to anyone. In actuality, Swift taught those fans a valuable lesson – getting waterlogged for hours does not give you the right to take up someone’s time, and standing in the rain to get a selfie with someone is downright stupid.
Curiously, the author of the Huffington Post piece seems to acknowledge that the fans were being unfair to Taylor, at one point asking “Can we all just give the girl a break?” But this query is indicative of the problem with the modern media. If we want to give Taylor a break, the Huffington Post should be the first to start by not posting videos of her getting booed by drenched tweens. While I’m sure it was annoying for Swift to be criticized by a dozen rich people on Martha’s Vineyard, it was no doubt more irksome for her to find out that the video was now being posted across a number of internet “news” sites – just below reports of North Korea’s nuclear test – as if her maintaining her privacy was as serious a threat as Dennis Rodman’s buddy getting a hydrogen bomb.
More and more, these news outlets are posting things not because they are newsworthy, but because they know other sites are going to post them too – and they can’t let the other sites get all the clicks. While showcasing things simply because people want to see them is great if you’re running a freak show at a carnival, for the sake of democracy, it’s not a great way to practice journalism.
A similar trend runs in reality television, where one character will often reveal something shocking and horrible about another cast member. Invariably the host of the show will ask how the villain could reveal something so heinous about another person in front of millions of people. But the reality is that the villain only said it in front of a few people out of anger. It was the show and the television network that decided to broadcast the disparagement out into the homes of millions of viewers – and they did it to make a profit.
And that’s the problem with profit-orientated news organizations. They don’t take a step back to ask if a story is worth highlighting. They hide behind being the messenger, without acknowledging that without them no one would hear the awful, merit-less message. Instead, they’ll gladly hand over their megaphone to any cause that will get them a few clicks – even if those clicks are linked to a story asking the public to leave the subject alone.