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Oliver Anthony

Christianity Today Attacks Oliver Anthony As Unloving While Praising Taylor Swift

Christianity Today has predictably gotten even worse under the leadership of Russell Moore who will be doing an interview at a gay church next month. This week they joined in the religious elites attacking Oliver Anthony over his hit song “Rich Men North Of Richmond.” Yet the previous day, they were singing the praises of Taylor Swift.

Hannah Anderson wrote a column titled “Oliver Anthony’s Viral Hit Doesn’t Love Its Neighbors” claiming that the song was disdainful towards people on welfare. The article itself is in response to the following lyrics.

Lord, we got folks in the street, ain’t got nothin’ to eat
And the obese milkin’ welfare

Well, God, if you’re 5-foot-3 and you’re 300 pounds
Taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds

Anderson views this as disdain along with the concept of a “Welfare Queen” because she has experience relying on SNAP and much of the article redresses how people should not feel ashamed for being on SNAP.

Yet this ignores that the song isn’t talking about underpaid people abusing the system. It’s talking about obese people and alluding to the phenomenon of EBT cards paying for junk food while people cannot afford basic groceries.

I understand why so many feel “Rich Men North of Richmond” gives voice to their struggle. Perhaps the only thing worse than watching your hard work be exploited and your dreams go up in smoke is the sense that no one notices and no one cares.

But protest against wealthy elites and government corruption, no matter how justified, cannot ride on the backs of others who are also suffering. The price of accessing food through SNAP or a church food pantry must not be the poor’s dignity and self-worth.

Instead of trafficking in easy caricatures and political tropes, we must understand that the plight of our food-insecure neighbors is our plight as well. Put more simply, we must see their God-given humanity and honor it—something I’m certain Anthony himself would affirm.

The song is about the dignity of the poor man, decrying that they are worth more than their wages and their labor. But the gynocratic author cannot separate personal experience and emotions from her understanding of the lyrics, and neither could her editor. Anderson concludes her chiding of Anthony by saying that he would agree with her.

Contrast this approach with the article written the previous day by Beth Felker Jones titled, “Barbie and Taylor Swift Are Bringing Us Together” which celebrate the commercial success of the very musicians people are told to like by the media.

The “epic trifecta” of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour, and Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour (all raking in millions of dollars) are taking over social media—having grown adult women reliving their youth in a “Tween Girl Summer.”

But the enthusiasm and participation are no less among actual young people.

Both my 18-year-old son and my 16-year-old daughter—despite never having played with Barbies as children and being on the younger end of the age spectrum for Taylor Swift fans—are all in.

We should definitely talk about why her 18 year old son is a Swiftie, but the tours of Beyoncé and Taylor Swift are hardly the culturally penetrating force as the billion dollar box office Barbie. Bordering on esoteric, Jones references multiple liberal media outlets in the brief portion of the article not behind a paywall.

The “epic trifecta” of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, Beyoncé’s Renaissance Tour, and Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour (all raking in millions of dollars) are taking over social media—having grown adult women reliving their youth in a “Tween Girl Summer.”

But the enthusiasm and participation are no less among actual young people.

Both my 18-year-old son and my 16-year-old daughter—despite never having played with Barbies as children and being on the younger end of the age spectrum for Taylor Swift fans—are all in.

There’s a cultural conversation here about the “spending power of women” and the “female dollar,” and there’s plenty to be said for this: Barbie, Swift, and Beyoncé are enormous capital successes.

Barbie and Swift’s Eras Tour in particular open up dialogue about what Michelle Goldberg at The New York Times calls “entertainment that channels female angst,” awakening a “seismic shift for women” in “helping women reclaim girlhood without rescinding power.”

Barbie’s success at the box office should be seen as a success for the Barbie brand, which is one of the largest toy brands in the world. The movie was marketed as pink and fun rather than feminist and empowering, even if this was to be expected, and it had a star studded cast.

Meanwhile female remakes of prominent movies have failed to be box office draws. Moreover the most successful box office movies this year have tended to be male dominated target audiences, with Barbie and The Little Mermaid being the exceptions in the top 10.

In any case the business analysis is faulty yet the female angst championed by Taylor Swift marketing to liberal single women is celebrated by Compromise Today while Oliver Anthony singing about the plight of working class America is derided.

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2 Responses

  1. I just learned of this guy because someone wrote about it on Facebook. His story is sad but I seriously doubt this poor boy alcoholic is going to pass on all the money he’s being offered. He sing his protests all.he wants but he has a price and ego and he’ll cave. Watch.

  2. Oliver Anthony just turned down an $8M music contract. How much more does he have to turn down to meet your criteria? He has even taken to reading Old Testament Bible passages before performing free concerts in rural venues. If there was ever a way to shake off the interest of music moguls and horrify Christianity Today leaders, that might be it. Christianity Today’s elitist tendency does not recognize that the working poor are demonized not only by the greedy rich but also by the misuse and squandering of benefits designed to offer life support. Meanwhile, Christianity Today seems giddy about Barbie profits and defending the liberal elite’s narrative about the poor.

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