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Taylor Swift’s ‘I Hate It Here’ highlights critical thinking shortage amongst artists and fans

Graphic by Ethan Nelson

Taylor Swift released “The Tortured Poets Department” on April 19, and it is certainly one of the albums of all time.

Swift has previously received praise for her ingenious lyric writing and, no matter your opinion on her catalog, you have to admit this is not it. That is especially the case when you dive into “The Anthology” version of the album, which features an additional 15 tracks.

The first 16 were enough.

“I Hate It Here” caught special attention from many. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a little basic, brainless songwriting once and a while but this one brought something truly unique to the table.

Let’s say, hypothetically, you’re white and talking to your friends about which decade you would rather live in. A common answer could be the 70s to experience the culture shift, or maybe the 2000s to see the nostalgia of our childhoods again.

Swift had a different response, as she sings, “I’d say the 1830s but without all the racists and getting married off for the highest bid.”

“I Hate It Here” is about not romanticizing the past, but what exactly is there to miss? Gag rules, Andrew Jackson and the Indian Removal Act?

You can talk about taking away all the racism and sexism, but do you know what you’re left with? It’s certainly not modern medicine or technology, and don’t even think about it if you are disabled or mentally ill.

It’s a double-edged sword with a very obvious sheath. Adding the last little bit shifts the tone of the song, but without it, there is too much room for assumption. Here’s an idea: put the pen down and take a step back. 

Identify what you want to say and how you want to say it, come up with several verses, ask someone with a different perspective from yourself to take a look at what you have and make a decision to implement them.

Congratulations! You just thought critically, a skillset artists and their fans seem to sometimes lack.

Imagine, without hesitation, typing “Being a Taylor Swift fan in 2024 is like being a Jew in 1938” in X and hitting post.

It’s easier to delete it after everyone flames you than to stop and think beforehand.

We see it all the time, particularly earlier this month with internet personality JoJo Siwa’s latest release, “Karma.” Considering herself to be a gay pop great with the largest transformation of her generation could be a result of delusion rather than a lack of forethought, though.

The amount of statements Siwa has had to clarify or rephrase is sad.

Swift, however, likely didn’t mean to spark any controversy or garner any type of reaction, and could very well think deeply about her songs. It’s simply amazing how many people around her looked at “I Hate It Here” and thought, “Yep, nothing off about that.”

So, maybe it doesn’t matter how many perspectives are gathered, but rather the value of said perspectives. Surround yourself with competent people, not yes-men.

Use this group to put well thought-out and valuable posts and media into this world instead of whatever everyone else is doing right now.

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