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I was a pretty big #TaylorSwift fan not so long ago. Up until Reputation dropped, I really enjoyed both her country songs, which is basically where she first found popularity, and her forays into pop music. It wasn't that I thought Reputation was a bad album; far from it. I think by that point—only two years ago—I'd just had enough of Taylor Swift for a little while, as radio stations had a tendency to overplay her music.
I just saw the video for "You Need to Calm Down" this morning, and I've got to say, it's probably one of the coolest videos from Swift that I've seen for a while.
I realize that #YouNeedToCalmDown is a video basically telling people to let people live how they choose to live—a perfect message, given it's #Pride month—but it's also bright, and fun, and a departure from some of the more brooding tunes that she's put out in recent memory.
The colors pop from the minute the video starts to play, and it looks like a sweet confection you should taste. Instead of looking angry, Swift almost seems as though she's having some fun, as does virtually everybody in the video. There's a veritable who's who of celebrities, including the #FabFive, drag queen legend #RuPaul (out of drag), and drag queens #AdoreDelano, #Tatianna, #DeltaWork, #JadeJolie, #TrinityKBonet, #TrinitytheTuck, #RileyKnoxx and #AkeriaCDavenport, #BillyPorter, and yes, even #KatyPerry.
#RyanReynolds also puts in an appearance; he, his wife #BlakeLively and Swift have been friends for some time, and the image of him painting a #BobRoss-esque painting foretelling a reunion between Swift and Perry is really quite funny. Even funnier is the since-deleted tweet where Swift suggests people should stan, or follow the wrong Ryan Reynolds, who replied to the tweet by saying he was still a "big fan" of the singer in spite of her error.
Some pundits have already come out and questioned why Taylor Swift would release this song now, suggesting that her political statements tend to come on more like a freight train rather than simply as songs in their own right. "You Need to Calm Down" definitely packs a social message, and the video also asks for support for Taylor Swift's petition to see the Equality Act passed in the Senate.
However, rather than looking for motives as to why Swift would release "You Need to Calm Down," why can't we simply also look at the video as entertainment that is really fun to look at, as well as being great to listen to? This is a video where people are very obviously having a good time—the twinkle in #TanFrance's eye before he takes some tea directly from a teapot, as well as #JonathanVanNess' sheer delight as he takes a mouthful of food and embraces the light around him is everything—and in a world where everything seems hugely cynical and dark, something that is enjoyable to listen to, and to watch for just a few minutes to escape is wonderful.
Say what you will about Taylor Swift, or even "You Need to Calm Down." For the first time in recent memory, she's giving us something that's visually appealing, instead of something brooding, and while it does come off as a political statement—the end card where she urges people to push senators to support the Equality Act is the most overtly political statement she's made in her music—it's an important message at any time of year, not just during Pride.
It's easy for us to judge others, particularly if we're trolling people from behind a computer screen. We don't, however, live the lives that others do, and therefore are in no position to judge. Enjoy "You Need to Calm Down" for what it is—a fun video that encourages people to embrace differences, and stay in their lanes.