Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Open Letters: The Taylor Swift Conundrum

There has been an upswing in “open letters” online, and I think it’s become a problem.

Wikipedia, the all knowing, all seeing, online dictionary of everything, defines open letter as “a letter that is intended to be read by a wide audience, or a letter intended for an individual, but that is nonetheless widely distributed intentionally.” While it seems like a fairly accurate statement, I’d like to modify it a little to set it more in line with what we’re talking about today. Glossing over letters addressed to a wide audience (you mean a blog?), I’d say that an open letter on the Internet addressed to an individual is “the most passive aggressive way of communicating your ideas to said individual. It’s one step below tweeting your beefs, and a far cry from a coffee shop intervention.”

In fact it’s so passive, there is a chance that the person it’s addressed to won’t even see it, and that sounds like a waste of time to me. But maybe that’s what it’s about; talking at the person in a public setting so that everyone can see how awesome you are. Though unlike Twitter, you aren’t really expecting an answer.

Researching the topic extensively, I came upon a letter from Sinead O’Conner to Miley Cyrus. In it, she basically tells Miley that she is waiting on the tracks for her own train wreck(ing ball), and that is something I think we can all agree with, but it just seems like maybe the wrong way to go about it. To me, if you really had the person’s best interests at heart, you would find a way to close that open letter and put it in the mailbox.

The only time an open letter is warranted is if you’re attacking someone’s idiotic beliefs and you want to be super condescending and sarcastic:

Dear Dick (Cheney),
I’m really happy that you’re such a staunch supporter of the 2nd amendment. Obviously there is no other way to interpret it than the ability to own whatever form of firepower we want without restriction. I also notice that you support guns in schools, and I think that maybe we should take it a step further and arm the children, since it’s clear that we all just have to start looking after ourselves. Oh, really good job shooting your friend inthe face, btw. That shot was one in a million. If you’re ever in the area, I’d love to take some pointers from a professional marksman like yourself.

Anyway, so here is the conundrum that I’ve been thinking about. In this conundrum, I will refer to this person as my friend, but we all know that I’m talking about myself, however I would just feel more comfortable talking about this as if it were someone else. So, my friend has recently found himself kind of sort of enjoying Taylor Swift’s song “Shake it Off”. It’s catchy, she has a pretty good voice, etc. . . But what would happen if my friend wanted to write her a letter telling her that he appreciated her talents.

Obviously, he can’t write an open letter because that’s bizarre, so he has to stick to snail mail, and even then I would also argue that it is impossible for a grown-ass man to write any sort of letter to any sort of celebrity, telling them he appreciates their talents without sounding like an absolute crazy person. By putting pen to paper, my friend has crossed a line. I’m not sure where that line is, but I feel like it lies somewhere in between awkwardly funny and creepy, but probably closer to creepy.

I’ve been running it over in my head and I can’t even get past the first line.

You write, “Hey, I know this is weird, but. . .“ – They read, “Hey, I am insane.”
You write, “I swear I’m not crazy, but. . .“ – They read, “I am crazy”
You write, “I hope this letter finds you well. . .“ – They read, “I hope this letter finds you in a dumpster”.
You write, “Dear Celebrity. . .” – They read, “Dear future skin suit”.

My answer to my friend would be that maybe he just doesn’t write it and goes on appreciating it in secret.

Also, as I’m looking over this post, I’m not only noticing that I technically have written an open letter, but I’ve also kind of addressed it to Taylor Swift. . . so there’s that I guess.

In summary. Open letters are dumb. Knock it off.

1 comment:

Courtney said...

I was very close to googling "open letter" just a couple days ago because I just didn't get it. Thank you for clearing up this confusing genre of letters for me. Also, "shake it off" is one of William's fav songs, so you're in good company.