Can you believe the latest about TayTay?
Well, even if you don’t know her by that once-omnipresent moniker, you more than likely have heard of Taylor Swift — whose newest album, “Reputation,” became 2017’s biggest seller within the first two weeks of its November release.
Despite having the ears of a pop-music nation, not everyone is pleased.
A blogger in Northern California, heretofore little-known, has charged that Swift’s latest songwriting efforts solidify the reigning frosted pop tart as an instrument (actually, a “dog whistle” in the words of the blogger) of white supremacy — with a Hitler complex on display to boot, in the video for her single “Look What You Made Me Do.”
Naturally, the Union of Civil Libertarians of America (no … wait … that’s UCLA) … the ACLU jumped into the fray in her defense. Not Swift’s — who denied the allegations and threatened to sue for being the target of a smear — but the blogger’s, for exercising free speech.
Why do they have to be so mean to TayTay?
Does this exercise in Godwin's Law move the needle even slightly in terms of your opinion about her? Will you be off to read her lyrics for messages beyond which ex-boyfriend or rival diva she’s referencing?
Naturally, this episode made me think of Superman. No, not Henry Cavill or Tom Welling or Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain or even Brandon Routh. Rather, the Man of Steel of my childhood — George Reeves, who played the spandexed superhero in "The Adventures of Superman" television series, the reruns of which accompanied my morning bowl of Cheerios.
All was fine in my black-and-white Metropolis until the day a classmate told me that the reason they stopped making the show was that Reeves had killed himself — trying to prove he really was Superman by shooting himself, jumping off a tall building, or shooting himself while jumping off a tall building.
The mystery of Reeves’s death remains muddled (and provided Ben Affleck the chance to don his tights in the film “Hollywoodland”), but the impact the circumstances had on an impressionable consumer of celebrity was clear.
Actors, singers, writers, ballplayers et al were no longer two-dimensional. I could suspend my disbelief for the sake of entertainment; but the off-stage stories behind the overexposed, commercialized performers would make me handle that disbelief with care.
It was ever thus, of course. From the wire of Walter Winchell to the heyday of Hedda Hopper to the tabloidization of TMZ, if we civilians so desired, we could learn whatever sad or sordid skeletons there were to be found in the closets of those projected to be larger than life.
Sometimes, it has been harmless (professional wrestling is staged!); sometimes it has been political (boycott The Dixie Chicks!), and sometimes it has just been out beyond description (Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch comes to mind).
These days, though, we’re far removed from the comparatively innocent times when a chagrined Pee Wee Herman can appear at the MTV Movie Awards and ask, “Heard any good jokes lately?”
If “The Usual Suspects” or “House of Cards” appears on the screen, is it possible to watch without thinking about the rise and fall of Kevin Spacey? Can we pop in the “Thriller” CD without reconsidering the legacy of Michael Jackson?
Louie CK, Jeffrey Tambor, Charlie Rose … countless others. Do their creative accomplishments wither under the weight of the allegations of sexual harassment that have put a halt to their careers?
Roman Polanski, the widower of Sharon Tate, popped into the news last week when Charles Manson died. But how quickly do thoughts turn to the outstanding rape charges against him, or the standing ovation he received in absentia at the 2003 Oscars for winning Best Director for “The Pianist”?
Another moment from that ceremony appears different through the lens of 2017. Upon winning Best Actor, Adrien Brody went to the stage, grabbed an unsuspecting Halle Berry and planted a lengthy kiss on her lips.
A lighthearted moment of jocularity — or a man taking advantage of a woman because, well, who was there to stop him? Overthinking ... or question everything?
Celebrities haven’t changed and neither has the media that cover them. That leaves us, and our ability — or willingness — to believe in disbelief.
— Copy editor Robert Galvin’s “Get Off My Lawn” column appears in Sunday’s Mail Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.