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On The Taylor Swift Situation

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Two nights ago, I was in bed at 11:25pm when Jonathan Cheban’s Instagram so generously encouraged me to watch Kim Kardashian’s Snapstory – a habit I, coincidentally, had recently dropped. You know when you’re watching a video of something terrible, and it takes you a solid four seconds to realize what you’re watching, and then you freak out? Well, that was me in my un-air conditioned apartment, sweating for reasons more than one.

As “jack,” someone with a cool Tumblr, has put it, this is “the wildest pop culture beef this decade… (and it all happened in the space of a few hours !).” Kim released the videos; Taylor made an Instagram statement; Selena tried to get involved, and epically failed; Katy Perry giggled from the sidelines; Chloe Grace Moretz, in an awfully public attempt to earn her spot in the #squad, takes Taylor’s side; and Justin Bieber, who is really fucking stoned I think, tries to put peace back into the world.

There are certain “facts” that draw us to justifiable conclusions like “let’s all hate Taylor Swift”: In Taylor’s Instagram statement this morning, she claimed her issue was that Kanye never made it clear she would be referred to as a “bitch; yet in her Grammy speech, she explicitly stated she was upset by the fact that someone else took responsibility for her fame. Further: Taylor called this “character assassination,” which raises questions of whether we have, or curate, characters for that we must maintain. And what about the fact that Taylor has racked up an extra few million for all the times we listened to “Dear John” on repeat, ceaselessly hoping to discover new evidence that the song was, in fact, about John Mayer? She assassinated many characters. You might know some of them. Harry Styles, Jake Gyllenhaal, Taylor Lautner (#tbt).

Emily Nussbaum said it brilliantly on Twitter: “She didn’t explain what actually happened & her speech feels very different now.”

The closest thing we’ve ever seen to this is the last third of Mean Girls, where Cady Heron tells Janice Ian for the millionth time that Regina George, sans hair, would look like a British man. Then, lover boy Aaron Samuels turns on her and she’s basically uninvited to the spring fling. For some reason, I am consistently and oddly satisfied with the new tornado that becomes Cady’s life, over and over again.

Taylor Swift is Cady Heron, and Kanye West is Regina George in a back brace.

I have never met Taylor Swift, and I have no reason to feel threatened by her. I think it’s safe to say we will never date. Furthermore, though I am neither tall, beautiful, nor famous enough to be in her #squad, I am potentially white and average enough to have been the “red-headed Abigail” she croons about in “Fifteen.” If anything, young white women like me are the closest thing Taylor might ever have to an ally.

But I hate her. And maybe I hate her because she is wrong, and maybe that is enough. The thing, though, is that because of social media, we will never know if she isactually wrong. At this point, there are probably more conspiracy theories involving Taylor Swift than there are regarding JFK or, like, the Illuminati. We will never know what real conversations Taylor and Kim and Kanye are having – unless Kim Snapstories them, of course. We will never know what bombs are carefully planned and scheduled to drop and which ones arrive in Taylor Swift’s inbox just as shockingly as they do in ours.

It scares me that we don’t know the motive or the end goal; that we don’t really know or understand what Taylor wants from us. We’re all dying to uncover the truths of Taylor Swift more than we are the truths of the military coup in Turkey, and isn’t that kind of crazy?

The ripple effects of this event are multifold; it is the beginning of the end of Taylor Swift. Maybe it isn’t quite Taylor’s Sinéad O’Conor pope-ripping moment, but it’s the closest she’s come. It’s sensory overload. It’s Kim Kardashian, who is famous for being a person, affecting the way I view her often-misogynistic musical genius of a husband in a relatively good way. It’s holding all celebrities more accountable for speaking out – Selena Gomez, over Twitter, encouraged the media to focus on more important things, when neither she nor Swift are yet to comment about the horrific murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

So, as a feminist, as a die-hard Kanye fan, as someone who knows how to play a handful of Taylor Swift songs on acoustic guitar, and as someone very much glued to the holy trinity of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, what am I supposed to think? I think I hate hating Taylor Swift, because I wish I didn’t care at all.

 

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On The Netflix Effect

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10:11am. I am sitting in my parents’ living room, feet clad in camp socks and Ugg slippers perched prominently upon the coffee table as if they thought they were the Sunday Style section of the Times. I drink tea. I turn on the television. In the kitchen, my dad is rolling strips of thinly sliced lox, just the way I like it, into tiny circles and placing them side by side on a large, ceramic platter. I mean, it’s brunch. We care about these things. Presentation is everything.

The first and best program I find to feast my eyes on, appeasing my grumbling stomach that yearns for a not-scooped out whole wheat everything, is SpongeBob SquarePants.

An episode of SpongeBob on a Sunday morning is better than prescribed anxiety medication. It is prescribed anxiety medication, that which I seemed to have left behind at some point in my life say, um, seven to fifteen years ago. The Feeling Of Watching SpongeBob On A Sunday Morning In Pajamas is one that has no proper name and not nearly enough recognition; yet, it was a strange experience because until I was feeling The Feeling, I didn’t realize it was one I hadn’t felt in ages.

Maybe I can blame this on the fact that I don’t have a TV in any bedroom I call my own — at home or school or place of sleep during summer or anything — but I’d guess that even if you do, you don’t come across this feeling often. And that is because your time is spent watching Netflix, which is an experience entirely different from watching normal television in the way we once did pre-Netflix.

Last week, I took my thirteen-year-old cousin shopping. I asked her what shows she watches, and this was her answer: “Glee (because they have all the seasons on Netflix now), and The Fosters [to which I asked, ‘is that on Netflix too?’ and she replied, ‘yes’]. Mostly YouTube videos.”

Now, I highly doubt that all practices of Saturday and Sunday morning cartoon watching are dead, because how else can parents of children old enough to sit up but not crawl or walk get those extra thirty minutes of sleep? Yet, they are less abundant than they once were, which I learned this weekend not just from the SpongeBob Experience but also from my 2-4pm half-napping-on-the-couch experience later that day.

You know how they take victims to crime scenes or have them smell things to bring back their memory? I forget the term for it — I know there is one, maybe it’s sensual memory (if that isn’t used to describe a graphic way of recollecting sexual experience) — but that’s what I had this weekend. I forgot that I once spent three hours every Saturday morning watching back-to-back episodes of Say Yes to the Dress all throughout middle and most of high school until I found myself back in that same sleepy position on the couch.

Today, if I want to watch a movie or a TV show when I wake up or before bed, I watch it on my computer in bed. I’ve lost my free spirited ways of flipping through channels in search of something satisfying. Thus, there’s no more sporadic SpongeBob watching until Criminal Minds is back on at 4, or no pleasant surprise when The Hot Chick is on TV. We miss the things we settled for (though in hindsight we realize SpongeBob was never truly “settling”) because we are now the masters of our own TV guides.

My mom and I used to eagerly await the two hours of TV time we’d spend together on nights when “our shows” were on — House, American Idol, Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy, 24, Gossip Girl, Girls, Pretty Little Liars, True Blood, ER — but now, for me at least, there is no waiting. I’m so concerned with catching up on all of the important television art and pop culture I missed while I was too busy worrying about about Serena and Blair that I have no time for OITNB or House of Cards. Instead, I spent the last month speeding through 30 Rock. I couldn’t watch this season of Girls the fun way — waiting for the weekly episode to drop — because I didn’t have time to keep up. Instead, I binge-watched it all in two sittings when it was over. I did the same with Broad City. And Portlandia. 

Netflix has created a universe of binge-watching television maniacs that hastily compete as if it is sport. Today, there is a cornucopia of good TV at my disposal. And the library keeps on growing. At this rate, I will never be well-versed in everything I should. I will never know or care about who died in the season finale of Game of Thrones. I will never have time to watch SpongeBob again.

Instead, I’ll be over here, tucked in bed with the lights turned off, with nothing but the warm glow of my laptop (which will one day surely give me radiation poisoning and turn me blind, yay!) and the insidious words on the lower righthand corner of my screen: “Next episode playing in 13 seconds.”

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On Tweeting

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My tweets come to me in waves, kind of like the nausea-hunger cycle one endures on her period. I’ll have three days of subjectively unadulterated wit followed by a week of getting lost in the trappings of a hectic schedule that leaves my Twitter account neglected and, even worse, un-funny. And then, the three days of me patting myself on the back in masturbatory chirping, nonchalantly dropping the details that both spawn from and trigger whatever the F is going on inside my head, resurrect like Jesus Christ on this very Easter Sunday.

For example, a dry spell will produce uncomfortably forced material (as I feel obligated to feed my social media presence regularly) that reads like this: I tried to put on jeans in this blizzard but after three hours “literally could not” and had to come home and put on leggings/exercise pants

That is a bad tweet.

But when I peak, I peak: Raise your hand if your outfit has ever been personally victimized by your snow boots and Grandpas who work out in boating shoes [I promise, not all of my tweets are about shoes] and then there’s this last one, which I think is really funny but most people don’t get it, “I love it when you call me big matcha”

(Most don’t understand this one because you have to have both a broad knowledge of Biggie and a specific knowledge of powdered green teas to do so and to therefore find it funny whatsoever. I think I am one of a small margin who stands at the crossroads of both of these… um… roads.)

Needless to say, when a good tweet comes to mind you hold on to it for dear life and you don’t let go. This means you might text it to yourself or jot it down in the Notes app or, old-fashioned, on a napkin if you don’t have time to perfect your own diction within the confines of 140 characters.

This means that I tweet everywhere. I tweet from the street, on line, in class, and, especially, while walking. The best ideas always come when I’m walking. A tweet is not a boob or crotch itch one cannot, and therefore does not, scratch in public. A tweet is much more ephemeral, but the largest difference between the two phenomena is that the latter is something you don’t want to drift out of consciousness. The former, obviously, you do.

For someone who is not very self-conscious, though I am self-aware, tweeting makes me very self-conscious.

I tweet and I feel like everyone walking behind me is peering over my shoulder. I’m paranoid that the world is reading it — which is stupid, because the world is actually about to read it — and I’m paranoid that, above all, the world is judging me for it, “it” being both the contents of the tweet and the tweet itself.

If I was walking behind someone who was tweeting, I would probably be thinking the following things:

  • Isn’t it weird that she’s talking but directing it at no one right now, in other words that she’s talking to nobody, like talking to a wall
  • Like why is she tweeting and not texting
  • What could she possibly be tweeting while walking somewhat aimlessly
  • Really, why is she tweeting
  • Who does this chick think she is having a directionless voice that people will care to listen to

The last one was a little harsh, but you catch my drift.

A Twitter account is kind of like a public diary — or in my case, it is one — and it is the ideal space to unleash the random thoughts that cross your mind — that’s how I construct my tweets, anyway, they aren’t contrived or planned much further than that — that other people might just find funny. And in order for one to recognize that others might find his or her inner train of thought humorous, he or she must be able to poke some small ounce of fun at his or herself. He or she must also have some hubris. I probably suffer from that to an extent.

I’m self-conscious when passersby see me tweeting on the low, whether I’m walking or opening Twitter in a new Chrome tab at a coffeeshop, because I feel like they’re getting a strange glance into this proverbial abbreviated diary of mine. They know when I have an idea because I take action to it right away. Usually when you have an idea, you just have it and you are, at first, the only one who knows. Like any other diary I’ve ever written, people are welcome to read it, but only if I stick it in your face and force you to.

So, I guess the moral of the story is to follow me on Twitter if you want to read my tweets. And if you insist on being nosey, on judging me for tapping on the little blue bird in the lower right-hand corner of my iPhone, then you are simply snooping in a sphere that is not yours to snoop. And you’re totally harshing my creative mellow. Jeez.

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