Dear White People is back for its second season on Netflix. It doesn't try to skirt around uncomfortable conversations about appropriation, subtle forms of racism, and the history of law enforcement’s relationship with the Black community. For all of that and more, we fell in love with the show and we are ready to settle in to watch it tackle more topics in its second season. The one we weren’t expecting them to touch on? Taylor Swift.
When Lionel – breaker-up of blackface parties and destroyer of papers – is asked what he thinks of the current pop music landscape, he responds, “I enjoy a little Taylor Swift every now and again.” One of the guys sitting on the sofa leans in ready to judge, but is interrupted by his friend who asked the question. In Lionel’s defende, he threatens to criticise his friend’s affinity for Lady Gaga should he besmirch the name of Swift. They quickly move on to discussing a pop star they can all get behind – Rihanna.
We are all Lionel. Now and again, a catchy country or plucky pop song from Swift really hits the spot. Should we be surprised by the show’s stance on Swift? We expect them to pull no punches in their opinions, so they wouldn’t be pro-Swift just to be polite. Even though she didn’t speak up at the time, Sam White, who was in an adjacent chair during Lionel’s pop commentary, is also revealed to be a fan of Swift’s music back in season 1. In an argument with Gabe, he attests that he knows Sam better than she thinks. Part of that is knowing her secret love of the country-turned-pop star.
Why do we expect this group of college students to criticise, or at least be apathetic toward, Taylor Swift’s music? Perhaps it is because Swift has remained silent on many political issues while the show espouses an ideology of progression and making people’s voices heard. Or, frankly, because her music is described by some as “super white.” At numerous points in the first season, people’s motives are questioned when they remained silent on things that were important, but maybe we can just bond over music rather than be divided by it. If you like a little Taylor Swift every now and again, more power to you. There are far more important things to discuss than to criticise the music someone likes to listen to. You play what you want to play. In the end, whether you like Swift, Gaga, or someone else, we can all agree that Rihanna is a queen among pop stars.