- - Monday, September 13, 2010

Gaga vs. Swift

“Both Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga are young, talented women who are impressionable to young girls. Who is the better role model? It’s difficult to compare since they are so obviously different. Taylor is country girl-next-door sweetness and Gaga is completely unique.

“Lady Gaga set an MTV Video Music Awards record with her 13 nominations and won five awards, including best female video, pop video and video of the year. An inspiration to younger girls, she has proven her talent as well as her intelligence. … But when she accepted the video of the year award from Cher, she wore a dress made entirely of meat. We love her shocking ways and theatrical outfits but was this too much? …

“During last year’s VMAs, Taylor was left stunned when Kanye West stole the microphone during her Best Female Video acceptance speech. But instead of taking revenge, what did this role-model to young girls do? She sang her brand new song, ‘Still an Innocent,’ inspired by her awful experience, as a show of forgiveness. … Only 20 years old, this beautiful young woman showed she has a lot of class.”

Maria Lianos, writing on “Lady Gaga Meat Dress or Sweet Taylor Swift: Who is the better role model for young girls?” Sept. 13 on babble.com

Bieber and politics

“A new strain of timeliness and humor is cropping up in this week’s batch of mid-budget political advertisements: Democrats and Republicans alike are co-opting the popularity of the World Wide Web and its contents for campaign videos. As you might expect, the results — much like the Internet itself — have been quasi-illogical, derivative, and geared toward non-voting tweens. …

“Senator Chuck Grassley is very interested in broadcasting his familiarity with his own BlackBerry and many of its capabilities. ‘I heard Chuck Grassley has a Twitter,’ one middle-aged lady says to an older lady at the beginning of the senator’s new video spot. ‘Oh, can it be cured?’ the older woman responds. ‘Oh, not that kind,’ Grassley clarifies. … Close-up of Grassley’s fingertips deftly maneuvering the crevasses of his mobile device follow. ‘I’ll tweet, I’ll text, I’ll do whatever it takes,’ he says — a promise that’s unlikely to resonate with those viewers who identify with the confused, older character from the first scene.

“Campus Progress capitalizes on the popularity of the Internet’s most three-dimensional byproduct, Justin Bieber. The liberal voter-outreach organization has a new commercial that suggests Americans cast their 2010 midterm ballots with Justin Bieber in mind. (Bieber is, as they point out, a Canadian minor.) ‘Whoever we elect in the 2010 midterm elections will impact his future,’ an actress advises. ‘And ours,’ adds another. Clips from Bieber-centric viral videos — classics such as ‘Bieber Attacked by Fans’ and ‘Bieber Attacked by Fans While on Segway’ — are interspersed between earnest/ironic pleas from young Democrats. ‘Most of his fans are 12 years old — we acknowledge that,’ a spokesperson for Campus Progress revealed to Politico.”

Juli Weiner, writing on “Justin Bieber and Twitter: America’s New Hot-Button Political Issues,” Sept. 13 on VanityFair.com

Defending football

“Whatever form, and whoever makes them, the arguments against football boil down to one of two basic objections. First, the games simply don’t matter — not in the grand scheme of things. Does anybody lose their house because of those 22 guys running after a little brown ball? Does anybody die because some kicker misses a field-goal that would have won a game for the home team? …

“The larger idea — that football games aren’t life-or-death for most fans — is true, but couldn’t be more irrelevant. Of course, the games don’t matter. That’s the whole idea. Life is serious, confusing, and scary. Sports are a refuge from real-world problems — and a place to release all the angst they cause. To be a football fan is to enter a world where you can paint your face, whoop and holler, and wear the silliest hat you can find — provided it’s in team colors. You can be primal, tribal in a way that’s simply not socially acceptable in any other context. If life-and-death issues were at stake, it wouldn’t be entertainment.”

Hampton Stevens, writing on “An Intellectual’s Defense of Football,” Sept. 13 on TheAtlantic.com

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