Legendary social critic and feminist Camille Paglia recently criticized modern #squad culture and faulted Taylor Swift for contributing to the poor appropriation of the term.
In a piece for The Hollywood Reporter, the educator indicated the inception of the term “squad” dates back to '90s hip-hop culture when groups like Def Squad used it in a way denoting “a hard, combative street edge.” Paglia claimed since then, the notion has “gone girly and a bit bourgeois.”
In Paglia's opinion, Swift & Co. particularly represent this degradation.
Swift herself should retire that obnoxious Nazi Barbie routine of wheeling out friends and celebrities as performance props, an exhibitionistic overkill that Lara Marie Schoenhals brilliantly parodied in her scathing viral video 'Please Welcome to the Stage.'
Though it appears the 25-year-old and her many superstar pals stand for girl power, Paglia suggested they are not top-tier representations, writing,
Women have lost the natural solidarity and companionship they enjoyed for thousands of years in the preindustrial agrarian world, where multiple generations chatted through the day as they shared chores, cooking and child care. In our wide-open modern era of independent careers, girl squads can help women advance if they avoid presenting a silly, regressive public image — as in the tittering, tongues-out mugging of Swift's bear-hugging posse.
When women are hyper-ambitious, like those in Swift's squad, Paglia claimed their focus shouldn't be on creating strong support systems behind which they can hide from the industry.
A dramatic example of their vulnerability was the long-lens pap photo of Swift sitting painfully sad and prim on a Virgin Islands taxi boat after her tumultuous 2013 holiday breakup with pop star Harry Styles. Given the professional stakes, girl squads must not slide into a cozy, cliquish retreat from romantic fiascoes or communication problems with men.
Paglia agreed, despite the current state of affairs, it's possible for all-female squads to mutually benefit from the endeavors of each individual member.
With gender issues like pay equity for women actors and writers coming increasingly to the fore, girl squads can be seen as a positive step toward expanding female power in Hollywood, where ownership has been overwhelmingly male since the silent film era… Girl squads ought to be about mentoring, exchanging advice and experience and launching exciting and innovative joint projects.
Paglia said male friendships present examples of the sort of dynamic that could benefit even the most successful girl squads.
Women need to study the immensely productive dynamic of male bonding in history. With their results-oriented teamwork, men largely have escaped the sexual jealousy, emotionalism and spiteful turf wars that sometimes dog women… For women to leave a lasting mark on culture, they need to cut down on the socializing and focus like a laser on their own creative gifts.
Coming off a world tour next week may give Swift time to evaluate her lady gang's persona, or she'll say, “F*ck it,” and bake Christmas cookies with her cats, Olivia and Meredith. Either way, Paglia is not interested in joining any iteration of the squad.
Of penning this piece, she told The Hollywood Reporter,
Writing about Taylor Swift is a horrific ordeal for me because her twinkly persona is such a scary flashback to the fascist blondes who ruled the social scene during my youth.
Yeesh. Best keep a distance.
Citations: Critic Writes Takedown of Taylor Swift's Squad, Calling It a "Nazi Barbie Routine" (Cosmopolitan), Camille Paglia Takes on Taylor Swift, Hollywood's #GirlSquad Culture (The Hollywood Reporter)