Taylor Swift’s relentlessly sunny video for her new single You Need to Calm Down has come under fire from members and supporters of the same LGBTQ+ community the song champions.
The award-winning singer’s pitch for GLAAD in the music video for You Need To Calm Down triggered a spike in donations to the advocacy group. And Taylor backed her stepped up activism with a surprise performance at the Stonewall Inn to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the New York uprising that launched the fight for Pride equality.
But Taylor is now getting ripped by some who accuse her of profiting from pain and violence she knows nothing about, and turning the fight for equality into music sales.
The video begins with Taylor in a pink trailer complaining — with relatively good humour — about her online haters. But it soon morphs into concern for her “friends.
Why are “you mad when you could be GLAAD?” she sings in an inflatable pool in a technicolour trailer park popping with rainbow flags and paint jobs.
The easy slide from her struggles with fame to what the LGBTQ community faces angered some.
“It’s a breathtaking argument: that famous people are persecuted in a way meaningfully comparable to queer people,” Spencer Kornhaber wrote in The Atlantic. He calls the song Swift’s “grand LGBTQ-rights statement” that falls short.
Online digs are very different from “a parent who disowns a trans kid, or a lawmaker who tries to nullify same-sex marriages,” Kornhaber noted.
Critics also expressed annoyance that Swift’s video depicts homophobes as dumb country bumpkins. They said the stereotype alienates a class of people — and fails to recognise the vicious, targeted attacks of, say, politicians. Besides, many LGBTQ+ people are from “the very communities Swift is mocking,” wrote Nathan Ma of the Independent.
Others have been more measured in their criticism and Swift’s “allyship.”
“Feels to me like a version of straight cis white girl pop star advocacy — not the most effective thing, but not as calculated and hollow as the other branded opportunist pride campaigns of late,” trans filmmaker Rhys Ernst told IndieWire
“Do I love it? No, but it’s not really for me. Doing a takedown of it doesn’t seem like it would be productive in this moment in history.”
The You Need To Calm Down music video also generated headlines thanks to its impressive roster of celebrity cameos, including several stars from RuPaul’s Drag Race, the Queer Eye Fab Five and fellow singer Katy Perry, with whom Taylor was previously involved in a high-profile feud.