Pro-Hillary Clinton news site fills a media need, but misses the mark
OPINION | Taylor Swift doesn't owe you her political opinions on Trump
Taylor Swift may be young, gorgeous and more successful than 99.8 percent of us, but she's still a failure in the eyes of some. Why?
Swift isn't using her pop culture platform to tell us how to vote. Nor is she joining the celebrity chorus weaponizing the Charlottesville neo-Nazi rally to attack President Trump.
In short, she resists. And it's driving select members of the media to distraction.
It all started in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election. Nearly every other celebrity publicly cast their vote for Hillary Clinton (and implored we do the same). How could the Princess of Pop stay silent? Who did she think she was, a singer with little-to-no formal training in political science?
The pressure intensified until Swift posted a picture of herself at a voting booth - without sharing how she voted. Mashable pored over the image, speculating her sartorial choice that day meant she voted for Clinton.
Maybe she did. Swift wouldn't say.
Later, sites like The New York Daily News suggested Swift's political silence indicated a vote for - gasp - Trump. Like the best Fake News, it was based on ... sheer conjecture.
Even after the election Swift refused to get political. Millions of fans simply sang her songs and eagerly waited for her next album, oblivious to Swift's political stance, or lack thereof.
Meanwhile, select reporters stewed.
Swift is back in the news again. And, once more, she didn't lift a finger to make it happen. Some unhinged neo Nazis are using Swift's image in their puerile propaganda. She's the Great White Hope, these lunatics claim without an ounce of proof.
Of course that isn't Swift's fault. You don't blame Charles Manson for making face tattoos uncool (maybe Mike Tyson?).
The Daily Beast demanded Swift renounce those hate groups all the same:
"And now that Nazis and counter-protestors are actually fighting in the streets, there's no time like the present for Taylor Swift to finally come out as anti-Nazi... Why should Jennifer Lawrence get all the likes?"
Why the media's insistence that Swift speak out? The media adores the neo-Nazi narrative because it can be used against both President Trump and the GOP. All the while reporters avoid connecting Antifa with Democrats or ignore their fury until even the country's most high-profile liberal, Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi, says enough is enough.
We've seen this routine before.
Last year, Jimmy Fallon had the gall to treat Trump kindly when the presidential candidate appeared on "The Tonight Show." The worst part? Fallon ruffled Trump's hair in a good-natured fashion.
Cue the fainting couches!
The press pounced, declaring Fallon account for his sin by coming down harder on Trump like his late night peers. Fallon eventually apologized, shamed into saying "the right thing:"
"I didn't do it to humanize him," Mr. Fallon said ... "I almost did it to minimize him. I didn't think that would be a compliment: 'He did the thing that we all wanted to do.'"
He still hasn't turned "The Tonight Show" into Colbert 2.0. Yet.
This media pressure isn't about making stars like Swift and Fallon more political. It's making stars like Swift and Fallon more progressive. If Swift did suddenly decide to use her huge platform to weigh in on public policy, but sang the praises of Trump's wall rather than criticize it, these very same outlets demanding she speak out would rise up in fury. Only a certain brand of political activism is acceptable to them.
All of this is ultimately silly.
Once upon a time celebrities weren't required to weigh in on the news of the day. We never clamored to hear Elvis Presley's stance on pending civil rights legislation. Sports fans didn't know, or likely care, where Mickey Mantle stood on the Vietnam War.
Their skill sets didn't make them any more, or less, knowledgeable about those issues than your neighbor.
Now, in our age of 24/7 media cycles and social media, we learn more about celebrities than ever before. It's up to them what to share or keep secret, though. And they shouldn't be shamed into doing what doesn't feel natural to them, no matter the reason.
We learned last fall that the public doesn't fall in lockstep with celebrities when it comes to politics. Even all the star power of Katy Perry, Beyonce, Lena Dunham, and Jay-Z couldn't secure victory for the Democrats. Otherwise, conservatives would be plotting ways to take back the White House from President Hillary Clinton.
Conversely, Hollywood has had its lousiest box office summer in 11 years following the industry's most political spell in modern history.
Swift doesn't owe us anything when it comes to politics. She's entitled to opine if she wishes or stay silent. The former may not change a single heart or mind. The latter? She's almost guaranteed to lose fans in the process.
Sounds like she's making the right choice for her career. Can you blame her for that?
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.