Taylor Swift broke her silence of almost three years with new track “Look What You Made Me Do” on August 24. While many were distraught at the undeniably pop genre and her overall change in style, perhaps just as many fans were ecstatic for any music at all from Ms. Swift.
The song begins: “I don’t like your little games / Don’t like your tilted stage / The role you made me play / The fool, no I don’t like you”
Ms. Swift is happily accepting the role of the victim, explicitly expressing that her circumstance was cast upon her – “the role you made me play,” as opposed to ‘the role I grew into,’ ‘the role I played.’ While perhaps some of her most recent unpopularity was indeed thrust on her without her consent, listeners are confronted with the fact that a person’s life and character is determined largely by how one reacts to uncontrollable circumstances. And too often the response is pity that leads to bitterness.
Ms. Swift seems to have chosen to blame others for turning out the way she has instead of reflecting on some of her own fatal flaws. She deflects the blame for her actions and reputation onto others, expressing how she was forced to become who she was – “look what you made me do.” All people do this at one point or another, about something big or small, but the limelight magnifies it in Ms. Swift, which brings up the issue of extravagant fame.
Ultimately, Ms. Swift seems to have reached the point of futility. The commercial music industry has undoubtedly taken its toll on her, and it points to the undeniable conclusion that human beings weren't created for fame. We were created to create, to glorify, to exalt, to express—but not ourselves. We weren’t meant to paint pictures of ourselves and show them to the world that we might be praiseworthy creators; we were not made for a life on the receiving end of praise. We were not meant to be idols, just as much as we are not meant to have them. We are meant to be mirrors, reflecting our infallible Creator.
But does this mean no ‘fangirling’ or being a fan of anything or anyone? Surely not! There must be a place to appreciate glory, goodness, beauty, and truth especially when it is created by others. That is our role as human beings in community: to rejoice when we see Jesus, whether that be in a work of art, a melody, an essay, a poem, or a dance.
This piece is by no means a call to listen to solely contemporary Christian music; all such good and powerful things can be found lavishly in the so-called ‘secular world.’ And we can learn from bad examples too. So, by all means – jam out to the new Taylor Swift album come November 10. Engage with the world. Better it.
But we mustn’t forget to think. Because the moment we forget to think, we become the dreaded victims of our own circumstances. But, we are not victims: “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”