When you think of “mean girls,” what do you picture? Outside of the movie that bears the same name, does any celebrity, or perhaps songstress, come to mind?
Over at EW, Lanford Beard seems to think that both Katy Perry and Taylor Swift fall into the “mean girls” category because of their ultra-confessional songs about the famous men with whom they were in relationships. But as artists, isn’t that their job? Are they not supposed to take what they know best — in these cases she mentions it’s heartache — and use it to not only heal themselves but to relate to their audience? The answer: Yes.
While Beard admits that Adele also bared her soul regarding a breakup that almost destroyed her with her album 21, she regards her efforts as “less tawdry” due to the fact that she kept the identity of this particular man under wraps. In comparison, both Perry and Swift were in high-profile relationships with messy break-ups tracked by the media, so it only makes sense that they publicly display how they were affected by it. It’s not revenge; it’s honesty. It’s not being a “mean girl”; it’s putting your heart out there and trying to make sense of the pieces no matter who’s to blame for the dissolving of the relationship.
Just because Adele didn’t blab to the universe the name and number of the man who broke her heart, she shouldn’t get her own special place in the world. While we can credit her for tact, we can’t give her some sort of extra special permission simply because she didn’t fall for a Russell Brand or John Mayer. Do we need to count how many Grammys Adele won or how much she made from that album before we start accusing Swift and Perry of “capitalizing on it, wallowing in it for personal and financial gain”? Well, if you want to we can, but it will be a waste of energy.
Every great love story, whether it be in music, film or book, was probably inspired in one way or another by a real-life relationship. Once we start deciding who’s allowed to gain wealth and success because of how they went about expressing their pain, then we’re being just as petty as we accusing these artists of being. If someone fucks you over, stomps on your heart, or twists a knife in your back, you may have just earned your right to be a “mean girl.” And if that involves writing a song that has your ex’s name in the title (“Dear John”—ha!), then so be it. Maybe after being publicly humiliated, these men will conduct their next relationships differently; maybe they’ll be less reckless with a heart that’s not their own to mishandle.