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The importance of Taylor Swift

Updated on: 02 March,2024 06:54 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Lindsay Pereira |

It must be nice to have celebrities who take their fame seriously and channel it towards causes that matter

The importance of Taylor Swift

To live one’s life under a microscope and come out unscathed takes more than just good luck. Taylor Swift appears to have pulled it off effortlessly for years, and for that I applaud her. Pic/X

Lindsay PereiraI am not a fan of Taylor Swift. I say this not because I don’t think she’s talented, because she undeniably is, but because I don’t listen to pop music as much as I used to when I was younger. I still admire her for all kinds of reasons, starting with the fact that she manages to be one of the most famous people in America without crumbling under unimaginable pressure. As a country that has arguably done more damage to the notion of celebrity than any other place on Earth, it can’t be easy for anyone as well-known to go about the business of living without enormous reserves of patience. To live one’s life under a microscope and come out unscathed takes more than just good luck. She appears to have pulled it off effortlessly for years, and for that I applaud her.

The bigger reason for my respect stems from what she chooses to use her fame for. This is true for many others like her in America, all big names in the arts who choose to speak up and draw attention to issues they believe need to be addressed, or injustices they try and right by uncovering them. I often wonder what it must be like to live in countries where someone famous will put their reputation on the line if it means taking a moral stand that isn’t aligned with what a rabid majority believe in. It rarely happens in India, which is why I find myself thinking of Taylor Swift often, specifically when she rallies her massive community of fans and gets them to act upon something she believes in. It must be a wonderful thing, to be able to wield fame in a manner that leaves one’s world a little better.

I recognise that this can go either way, obviously, and that there are enough celebrities in America who choose to broadcast everything that is the opposite of common sense. Still, I believe it’s worth any potential damage if it means free speech is still upheld. I imagine what India would be like if that fundamental right really were to be granted. I mean real freedom of speech, not mere lip service. Some people might argue that we have had access to this right for decades, and I would politely ask those people to dig their heads out of the sand and take a good look around. What passes for freedom of speech here can be summed up as freedom to say what is acceptable, and what fits into boundaries clearly defined by corporate, political, or religious forces. That isn’t freedom at all.

Imagine Indian celebrities speaking out for a change. This isn’t to say everyone opts for silence, because that would be a disservice to the brave women (we all know who they are) who routinely mention things that others pretend aren’t happening. Imagine Indian celebrities doing what Taylor Swift does and calling out people trying to undermine our democracy. I understand and acknowledge that this isn’t a celebrity’s job, but it’s one of those things I consider more often now that the idea of a free press is starting to seem like an anachronism. In such circumstances, one must take what one can get.

I wonder what it would be like for famous movie stars to speak up when a country is being torn apart during an election year. I wonder what it would take for famous cricketers to use their social media platforms to broadcast something other than talking points handed to them by political parties. I wonder what it would take for these rich and famous people to put their country first for a change, instead of bowing down to con artists masquerading as politicians instead.

This is wishful thinking, but I like indulging in it now and again. I hope for a time when celebrities start to recognise that power isn’t to be taken lightly, and that it can be used for more than just personal enrichment. There may finally come a time when they start to acknowledge that they have a responsibility that goes beyond promoting a new movie or advertising a housing complex. Also, given their obsession with emulating everything the West does, I am hopeful that more of them will start to look at Taylor Swift and learn something. Yes, players are probably going to play and haters are going to hate, but there are times in life when some things just can’t be shaken off.

When he isn’t ranting about all things Mumbai, Lindsay Pereira can be almost sweet. He tweets @lindsaypereira
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The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.

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