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E - Everyone

An Open Letter to Taylor Swift

by RoyalHighness

Author's Note: In anticipation of those reviewers who will say the language in this letter sounds like a low-budget Charles Dickens adaptation threw up all over the screen, that was an intentional artistic decision and I'm sorry in advance if it affronts your eyes. Feel free to rip it to shreds but to be honest, I don't care about this piece very much and I probably won't edit it.

Dear Taylor,

I'm writing to you from the trenches of former fan-hood. I have eagerly awaited every one of your albums, defended you to my brother, resisted from joining the narrative surrounding you as you became more and more problematic. But the past few years, you have egregiously disappointed me, from the abuse of your white privilege, to your refusal to acknowledge the way you wield your victimhood like a weapon. Entire doctoral theses could be drafted about the way you have abused your white privilege alone, so my true intention here is to talk about your victimhood, and how its weaponization has intolerably impinged on my ability to deal with my own. To start, Taylor, you have utterly failed me.

For the past two years, I have been the target of much harassment and outright bullying on my college campus. At first, it was well-deserved; I had dealt a grievous emotional blow to several former friends, and they enacted their just revenge. But when the torment continued from days to weeks to months and finally to years, I began to realize that, at some point, my penance would never abate their hatred. They wanted me to fight, Taylor. They wanted me to get angry and lash out at them, as they did to me. But I wouldn't. I wouldn't access that anger, not because I couldn't, but because I had before, and I alone knew of the havoc it could wreak.

So I didn't. I accepted their rumors, their lies, their taunts and insults without question, without judgment. I apologized at their behest, never bothering to bring to the table that all that they had done to me was incongruous to my own crimes; I didn't see it that way. I saw my punishment as a just one, and accepted it. But they were only all the more enraged, viewing my sackcloth and ashes routine as just that, and not for the genuine regret that it was. They insisted that I fight.

So there I was. At a crossroads, Taylor, like you were when your perceived enemies emerged from the woodwork to ruin your beloved reputation.

I could give them exactly what they asked for, and unleash all the rage of my 21 years on their heads, and earn the titles they had ascribed to me against my will. I could make their insults look like compliments compared to the things I could say of them, I could use all the power of my position on campus in SGA and all my talent for writing not only to destroy them, but to annihilate any idea of them being considered welcome anywhere, in any social circle, in any organization on campus, without my shadow following them like the curse of Cain.

I could, in short, become a force.

Or I could turn to forgiveness and love. I could move on and accept that no matter what I do, I can never be in the right in their eyes. If I reflect my inner turmoil and act like the victim I feel to be, they would be angry at what they perceived to be a facade. If I stop seeping in sorrow, they would accuse me of callous indifference to my sins. I could simply stop caring about the rumors they spread over campus like a cancer, and retreat into my own circle of trusted friends that have refused to believe them. I could forgive their inability to see me as anything but the flawed person I was when I hurt them deeply, and I did hurt them deeply, Taylor. I understand that the things they have done to me were done with the perception that they were doing the right thing, and that, given the misinformation and circumstances in which they were mired, I would have done the same.

And I have done all this as best as I can, regardless of whether they would believe it, and whether it always manifests in my daily interactions with people on campus. I have genuinely forgiven them, and though sometimes I find in my friends a platform for venting my grievances, I truly strive to make them understand, too, that I am no less in the right than my perceived aggressors. After having done everything I could to make up for the crimes I committed against them, I have resorted to staying out of their way and avoiding speaking of or to them in public. I have acknowledged and accepted my flaws, while continuing to improve upon them. I know I have been at fault. Do you?

You, Taylor, have succumbed to the darker side. You, who have barely known any aggression, and if you have, should have the maturity to realize that none of it matters when you are surrounded by people who love you, have decided to attack. You have attempted to utterly destroy the people who have only punished you justly for being intransigent and unforgiving when offenses real or imagined were brought to your attention, for using potential allies as speed bumps for the bus of public opinions, for lying and lying again when caught in your lies, and for using your victimhood as both a sword and a shield. Contrary to your strategy, most victims of bullying I know, those without your resources of confidence and revenge, do not want to be victims. They (insofar as I can be considered their voice) do not want to be perceived as using what has happened to them as a net to garner the sympathy of the broader public, as you do. While you wallow in your self-inflicted martyrdom, you harm those average people who are common victims of bullies. They are the ones who will pay the price for your folly by internalizing their anger, and making your rage their own. I am lucky enough not to count myself among them anymore, but there are countless millions who cannot say the same, and you do them a disservice.

If you think your punishment has not fit your crimes, that's natural. But if you think you are exempt from asking for forgiveness, you are sadly mistaken. If you think you can start over without ever addressing that which caused your end in the first place, you will never escape your "old Taylor," your own personal albatross. You have deliberately and tragically failed to show your world of fans how to embrace self-love and forgiveness in the face of a daily barrage of enemy fire. If you believe yourself to be truly maligned, you could have chosen to forgive and, if not forget, at least move on with the knowledge that you are flawed. What a redemption arc that would have been for you. It's not too late for that to be the truth.

But in the meantime, Taylor, not only you, but your fans will suffer from your hatred. I only hope they, like me, can turn away from anger and find the warm light at the end of the road to peace.

And I hope you find it, too, whether the public considers you worthy or not.

In the immortal words of Birdy, whose songs have sustained me in the absence of yours: "It's not giving up; it's getting over."



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563 Reviews

Points: 1235
Reviews: 563

Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:19 pm
Stori says...

I was going to review this, but grammar-wise it's all good. :) Instead I'll say it's a great commentary on Western society. I also think it's rather rash of us to assume that celebrities are good role models- many times they're not. They simply have their likenesses shoved in people's faces.

I did enjoy your use of alliteration and, like the others have said, feel that the tone of the letter is just right: academic without being too Dickens-like. ;) The one suggestion I have is to amend the phrase "I can never be in the right" by adding "in some people's eyes".

Hoping you find this helpful,

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805 Reviews

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Reviews: 805

Mon Sep 04, 2017 1:33 am
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Aley wrote a review...

Hey Royal Highness

I actually really love the academic voice in this piece. You did a really good job making it present, but not overbearing. I think you're also a very good writer. This piece drew me in and kept me engrossed in the situation it presented rather than letting me drift into reviewing and remembering that I have to comment on this.

I think one of the ways that you did this was that you were specific in the situation and you used situational evidence to support your claims. You also laid out your thesis plainly in the beginning and then continuously built support.

I think you might be a little lacking in your support that "not all victims want to be" but that's simply because you're the only source for that information, and you could change that to say "None of the victims I've known, including myself, have wanted to be victims." That would solve that situation even if it's not true. From a writer's point of view, and a reader's point of view, that would make it feel and sound like you did some research on the subject.

I also think that bringing up the bible is a weak argument. I mean, there are so many different ways to interpret it that I don't think it's anything stable and it is sort of like bringing a movie into an argument. So much could go wrong with it, that it might just want to be something you avoid doing. After all, I know very little of the bible and my understanding of what you said is that Taylor is body-swapping herself with herself, which doesn't make much sense. If you just remove that section then you jump into the nice reality of it instead.

All in all, great job. I just have one nitpick that I noticed.

"If I stop seeping in sorrow, they would accuse me of callous indifference to my sins. " this might have been meant as weeping.


Hey, thank you for taking the time to write this review! The seeping line is intentional but if it reads weird, I can change it. The Bible references were also intentional and, I thought, rather forced in the second part so I can remove those without jeopardizing the integrity of the piece. And the victims line, I had a lot of trouble with it so I really appreciate that suggestion. All in all, thank you for reading and reviewing!

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802 Reviews

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Reviews: 802

Sat Sep 02, 2017 10:54 pm
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Dracula wrote a review...

Hey, RoyalHighness. I am here to review even though you probably won't edit. :P

You started with a clear introduction and ended with some sort of conclusion. There's a middle too, so we've got the letter's structure covered.

I won't go and 'review' your personal experiences. They are what they are and it sucks you went through that. The way you wrote them, however, was well done. I don't think it's Dickens-y in a bad way, you were just good at using repetition and questions to emphasise your main points. A flourish here and there never hurt anyone.

I was a little concerned at the start that you were going off topic, but after two paragraphs you linked it all back to what your experience had to do with Taylor.

My favourite part was this: Contrary to your strategy, most victims of bullying, those without your resources of confidence and revenge, do not want to be victims. . It was very powerful.

The end was clever too. Like a big slap in the face. Like you're saying, hey, you're not the only cool singer in the world.

I think that's all I've got to say. This could have been an aggressive, pointless letter. But you gave 'recommendations' on what she could do, so it has a purpose. Thanks for sharing.

Hey thank you for taking the time to read and review, I know this piece was long and you are kind in your analysis! As it happens, I did take your suggestions concerning the off-topic paragraph, and ended up dismissing it for another essay in the first few lines. I think it cleaned it up nicely, all thanks to you. Thanks again for your review!

Dracula says...

Good to know it was useful. :)

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