The Musical Talmud: “22” by Taylor Swift

In which we explore the creation of syncretic postmodern identities in Taylor Swift’s “22.”

Eurovision may be over, but the Overthinking It video series continues! In this edition of the (Video) Musical Talmud, Mark Lee explores the creation of syncretic postmodern identities in Taylor Swift’s “22.”

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3 Comments on “The Musical Talmud: “22” by Taylor Swift”

  1. Lee OTI Staff #

    Before anyone else points it out, I know that I didn’t point out the obvious irony of the message on her t-shirt:


    Suffice to say, nothing could be further from the truth.


  2. Gab #

    Funny fact: I hear tell that the way she holds her pointer and middle fingers out, pointing them inward, toward her stomach, got some reaction in the UK, because holding one’s hand that way is the same as flipping the birdy in the States. Not anger, just more like a head-shake, “Oh, Taylor…” type reaction.

    I believe she references college tests or something in the song, too, so the lyrics and imagery are utilizing and coopting the more frequent experience of young adults that age. And to push what you were talking about further, pretty much everything she describes in the song is stuff she hasn’t really been able to experience herself because of her early stardom. And yet, the way it’s written, it feels honest and sincere, and quite believeable- as much as any of her songs written about specific ezperiences.

    Although a darker reading could suggest perhaps this song is actually a disguised lament that she didn’t get the same experiences as the vast majority of her cohort(s)- so her twenty-three-year-old-self is experiencing it as a dream of something she wishes she had, rather than consciously adopting that identity. Her shirt, then, could be the reality of her actual life (with respect to the fun and “confusing” stuff she describes). She isn’t ACTUALLY “free,” and hasn’t been since her first single came out. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    Have you seen her VH1 ‘Sorytellers’ yet? The one she did as the first prize for that Papa John’s voting contest (the one 4chan trolled to get her to go to a school for kids with hearing impairments- we talked about it a little on the forums). It adds some nuance to previous interpretations, while not necessarily negating all of them. :)

    <3 Taylor Swift!


  3. Chimalpahin #

    What ?! You’re supposed to already be graduated by 22!?


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