Connect with Adolescent
Close%20button 2

Music Culture cheat sheet (Taylor’s version): “All Too Well,” EmRata’s “My Body,” and more

Nov. 18, 2021
Avatar andrea panaligan 2.jpgdca087e2 8c5a 487d 92b0 937493773384

Watch: All Too Well: The Short Film (dir. Taylor Swift)

It’s been a great week for people who refuse to let anything go ever. The rerecording of Taylor Swift’s 2012 album Red was released last Friday, along with a short film for the 10-minute “All Too Well,” an extended version of Swift’s most excruciating breakup song. It’s become an open secret that the ex-boyfriend referenced in the song is actor Jake Gyllenhaal, who was 29 when he dated then-20 Swift. Accordingly (and eerily), the short film stars 30-year-old Dylan O’Brien and 19-year-old Sadie Sink.

Attempting to objectively review the album is difficult and, as proven by fan reception, futile—it’s undeniable that anyone who already has a personal relationship with the tracks is having significantly more fun. What everyone can agree on is that Gyllenhaal is, frankly, the worst. His emotional manipulation is caught in 35mm, and Twitter is having a field day with Swift singing, “I’ll get older but your lovers stay my age.” (40-year-old Gyllenhaal’s current girlfriend is 25 but is apparently "mature for her age." They’ve been dating for four years.) More importantly, it’s starting conversations on why we didn’t think twice about teenage Swift dating older men until ten years too late.

Sadie Sink is impeccable in this dramatic undertaking, making the most out of a minimal script. O’Brien, her onscreen partner, was there. Swift, both a heartfelt songwriter and a marketing genius, is maybe alluding to a book release around 2024, an ongoing theory put together by fans from clues in the short film. As for me, I will continue developing selective amnesia every time I hit play on the 10-minute “All Too Well” so I can forget Swift’s white feminism and fully enjoy scream-singing the line, “‘Fuck the Patriarchy’ keychain on the ground.”

Watch All Too Well: The Short Film on YouTube here.

Listen: An Evening with Silk Sonic by Silk Sonic

Accompanying Taylor Swift’s heartbreak anthems on the charts is two musical soulmates’ labor of love: An Evening With Silk Sonic, the debut album of newfound R&B duo Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak. The two cited Aretha Franklin, James Brown, and Prince among their influences, and the resulting record is a feel-good not-quite-period-piece that captures not just the musical leanings of ‘70s R&B, but, more importantly, the vibe.

"A good song can bring people together…so that was our mindset with the whole album,” Mars tells Rolling Stone. “If it makes us feel good, and resonates with us, that's gonna be infectious and make other people feel good.” The duo, after all, originally got together in the studio "with no intent, besides their mutual appreciation and affection," and their songs are inspired by their backstage inside jokes. Back in early 2020, Mars called up .Paak after listening to what they had recorded so far, urging him to come to the studio. .Paak arrived shortly, despite being drunk, leaving his own birthday party behind. Mars went on to describe his partner as being able to “unlock something in my brain that I’ve never used before.” Put simply, this is a love story, and we’re lucky to bear witness.

I found myself more enthralled by their serendipitous partnership than the scholastic accuracy of their homage; though it is undeniable that the two know their stuff. Given that the duo did everything they could to emulate the era properly—even procuring instruments from the ‘70s—perhaps it’s reductive to deem this project just two great musicians having fun. But I think this conclusion works in their favor. As Ross Scarano wrote in their review for Pitchfork, “This is a cartoon revival of a well-worn aesthetic, and when so many of the creative decisions resist being taken seriously, any criticism makes you sound like a killjoy.”

Listen to An Evening With Silk Sonic on Spotify here.

Read: My Body by Emily Ratajkowski

Where were you when “Buying Myself Back,” model and entrepreneur Emily Ratajkowki’s viral essay for The Cut, was released? Or, more accurately, which side of The Discourse were you on? Perhaps it doesn’t matter, because in her new essay collection My Body, Ratajkowki isn’t quite sure either.

In the book’s introduction, Ratajkowski rightfully acknowledges that she has “capitalized on my body within the confines of a cis-hetero, capitalist, patriarchal world,” writing, “My position brought me in close proximity to wealth and power and brought me some autonomy, but it hasn’t resulted in true empowerment.” It was extremely frustrating to discover throughout the book that these very insightful reflections led her not to resist such systems but to “cheat” them, and consequently congratulate herself for finding success, sans regard for the privileges she possesses that make it easier for her to do so. She is critical of the modeling industry not because it’s exploitative by design but because of its mistreatment of her personally, a thin line that ultimately leads her supposed feminist advocacy to extend only to herself.

My Body is a brilliant exercise in de-objectifying the celebrity, but it’s also further evidence that we shouldn’t rely on celebrities for political talking points or substantial analyses of capitalism. I’m reminded of an essay from Refracted Magazine calling Ratajkowski “a mirror of the zeitgeist”: “[She’s] an embodiment of Instagram face, the Glossier beauty standard (natural, but unattainable), and also, our cultural obsession with femininity and sexuality.” It seems like the fact that she released a collection of feminist-marketed personal essays written with the excessive lyricism of Chelsea Hodson’s Tonight I’m Someone Else is merely mirroring the trendiness of “subverting” the male gaze, rather than definitively criticizing the structures she is reportedly against.

My Body by Emily Ratajkowski is now available wherever books are sold.