Let me start by saying that I’m an experienced member of the mental health community. My Bipolar II and Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis have made me a fighter and an advocate for mental health awareness. I’m also an enthusiastic fan of both Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie. Both of those facts are why I can’t stand to see fabricated issues regarding mental health or disabilities. Especially considering there are more pressing and urgent issues that require attention.
An article recently posted by The Mighty claims that Swift and Urie use “ableist language” in their new single “Me”. The author of this article has cerebral palsy and states that as someone with a disability, she has a problem with Swift singing “psycho” and Urie singing “lame.” The author briefly defines the term “psycho” as “using these words perpetuates the stigma that surrounds mental illness. This stigma is oppressive and makes people with mental illness feel like there is something wrong with them, which, of course, is not true.”
The author questions what Urie means when he sings, “there’s a lot of lame guys out there.” Again, she defines the word and suggests that Urie is referencing disabled men. Or that he is talking about hitting someone, which is an outdated way of defining “lame.”
The author chose to define each term which shows she is reaching, nitpicking, and creating an issue that doesn’t exist. The meanings of both lyrics that offend the author have shifted drastically over time. And the author has over-defined each term to fit her agenda.
Emily Ball, a 27-year-old from Connecticut, who also has cerebral palsy and bipolar disorder, says that she’s confused why the writer is offended by the colloquialisms.
“I don’t believe Swift is contributing to mental health stigma. I also don’t think Urie was degrading men with disabilities when he said “lame guys”. Words have several different definitions,” said Ball.
The article gravely misrepresents the mental health and disabled communities. It suggests that this is an important issue for each community when in reality it’s more of a joke. Real issues that affect the mental health and disabled communities are prescription prices, discrimination in the workplace, and actual stereotypes that people with mental health conditions and/or disabilities have to fight every day. We should focus more on these pressing problems rather than choose to be offended by everything someone else is saying.
The author can absolutely have her own opinion, and as such, it is valid. But her opinion and choice to be offended by an upbeat pop song also casts a shadow on more urgent and pressing issues and is not an effective way to raise awareness.
If you haven’t heard Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie’s new song, listen below:
Image credit by YouTube