#Problematic: Taylor Swift’s Dreams Of Africa, Kelly Osbourne’s #SquadGoals, Emma Thompson’s Feminism & Janet Jackson’s Return!

Happy lead into Labor Day, guys, a holiday in keeping with American tradition in that most of us have no idea what it’s for, but we’ll definitely be drunk on it! Regardless, it’s time to power down—like Shabbat, but with hard liquor. Stop watching Diamond Candle reveal videos. Stop reading about those poor Duggar sisters, and how badly the media wants to show them “healing,” to quiet the guilt of having put their very personal shit on blast. Stop following all of the models that you keep track of on Instagram as inspiration to not eat cheese. Put something in the blender, and then add rum to it. Put on a fucking bikini, and get your hair wet. “Girl, put a record on, tell me your favorite song.” It won’t be long before we’re all so elbow deep in lotion gloves, we can’t even get a good grip on the remote, so say goodbye to summer with all you have. And remember that no matter what, you can see other planets from the ground with your eyes, and that’s pretty fucking cool.

1. “Wildest Dreams” not Wild Enough 4 The World

Even my cat knows that I am not team Taylor Swift. So it is with a humbled heart that I accept the moments when I am compelled by the internet circus to defend her. And not having a bias in weeding out clickbait, “The huge problem with ‘X’ that no one is talking about,” bullshit is commandment one in #Problematic patrol. So lace up your ice skates, hell is about to freeze over.

If you didn’t watch the VMAs, I congratulate you. You got to keep 1,000 brain cells that the rest of us lost in the process. But in the spirit of corporate capitalization on trends like FOMO, even if you watched the awards, you missed out because Taylor Swift debuted her new music video for “Wildest Dreams” at the tail end of the pre-show.

The video felt kind of like when Lindsay Lohan played Elizabeth Taylor for Lifetime—desperate and intriguing. In the video Taylor gets to be a movie star twisted up in the creative throws of filming (a bit of a condescension if you ask me). The plot hinges on her affair with her married co-star, who later shows up to the premiere with his wife, which causes her to ditch said premiere—a celebration of her faux career triumphs—for the more empowered option of melodramatically running away. Because Taylor Swift is a “feminist.”

What really got the internet in a huff is that the video is set in a Ralph Lauren wet dream, otherwise known as 1950’s white people on safari in Africa. Their argument is two-fold, one being that romanticizing colonial Africa is very blind to the historical ramifications of that period, two being that Swift and her team shot a video in Africa and there’s not a single black person in it.

First of all, I am absolutely reveling in not being the only one yelling about Taylor Swift anymore, but at the same time all of the ranting about the video is exhausting. I also will concede that their points are valid. But at the same time I will shout in a megaphone, IT’S A POP MUSIC VIDEO! The entertainment industry was created as an escape, and has never promised to be socially responsible, nor accurate. Somehow the impulse to over-aggregate the internet, combined with millennial obsessions with a rigid kind of political correctness, has created a world where everything must be the right kind of something. You must be the right kind of white, the right kind of black, the right kind of sexual, and so forth. And that is stifling for both progress and art.

What’s really problematic is that the “Wildest Dreams” music video was SO boring. It was the music video equivalent of a minor league baseball game. And “Wildest Dreams” is a great pop song that addresses a complex kind of post-romance romanticism that is fodder for a much better music video than what we got. (I know my boyfriend has video footage of me drunkenly singing the song to my cat one night last winter if anyone is interested.) In conclusion, I could put one hundred candles out with my sigh about all of the above.

As #Problematic as … the revisionist history of “Straight Outta Compton”:


2. The Real Most Important Moment At The VMAs…

…was Kelly Osborne basically giving Taylor Swift a rim job on live television! Before the aforementioned premiere of “Wildest Dreams,” Sway and Kelly interviewed Taylor and her (gagging myself) girl gang on the pre-show red carpet. But it was very easy to not even focus on the forced “girl power” Swift was slinging, because Kelly was so desperately trying to get an invite to their Instagram parties.

It all began with Sway attempting to just do his fucking job introducing Taylor as “one of the night’s biggest nominees.” Queue Kelly correcting him with a squeal, “the night’s biggest nominee.” Then she started pumping her fist chanting, “T. Swift.” She then interrupted Taylor mid speech about how great all of her friends are to say, “It just goes to show how good of a friend you are to all of your friends as well.” As though Kelly Osborne knows? Taylor forced an “Awww,” and Kelly added, “It’s true though. Come on, Taylor,” like they’ve been best friends since high school and they’re in the bathroom at the 10-year reunion and she’s trying to convince her she really was that pretty back then.

Sway tried to cut the awkwardness by pulling Kelly out of her T. Swift worm hole and changed the subject back to why they’re all there, but Kelly’s could not be derailed! She interrupted him again to add, “There’s only one Taylor Swift. It’s a Taylor Swift nation.” Taylor started to giggle. Sway rolled his eyes. Taylor introduced the video, and probably farted. After it played, Kelly didn’t forget to send Taylor and her squad off with a reminder that they were the most fashionable group there, adding that she was in the “Wildest Dreams” video, but was just “borrowing Harry’s invisibility cloak,” and making Taylor promise to save her a dance later.

Please just watch the video. If not just to make you feel better for every awkward encounter you’ve ever had with someone better than you, because at least it wasn’t on live television.

As #Problematic as … career red carpet interviewers:


3. Thank God For Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson is highly underrated. We owe her enough as it is for making so many of those perfect kind of movies that you don’t really want to see, but end up deeply resonating with you on a hungover Sunday while you eat undressed bagels in bed. In real life she is a woman who thought it would be hilarious to present at the Golden Globes with her shoes in one hand and a martini in the other—and it was. And now she’s truth bombing Hollywood about its bullshit feminism.

This week, Thompson gave Vulture an incredible interview, in which she was frank about a lot of entertainment industry injustices. Most importantly she addressed something that has always been boggling to me, which is the current trend of young actresses shrinking away when asked about feminism. Obviously they’re just pandering to the patriarchy who write their (unequal) checks—but if Beyonce can stand in front of a jumbotron banner for the cause, one would think they can at least acknowledge its existence to a reporter. Thompson put it succinctly:

“I’ve been a card-carrying, radical feminist sine I was 19. Most women who I would want to listen to wouldn’t have any problem with the word feminist. It’s bizarre. Any woman who says they’re not a feminist is basically saying they don’t believe in equal rights for women.”

Blessed be, Emma.

As #Problematic as … Colin Firth as a love interest for Emma Stone in “Magic In The Moonlight”:


4. Janet’s Back!

And to kick off your long weekend right, Janet—Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty—is fucking back! I don’t care if the song isn’t that great. It’s still Janet! She’s back! The world is not over yet! Listen to it over and over and pretend it’s a bachelorette party! Happy Labor Day weekend!