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Opinion: Ariana Grande could learn a thing or two from Taylor Swift

Ariana Grande on stage Nov. 9 during the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards in Glasgow, Scotland. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Ariana Grande on stage Nov. 9 during the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards in Glasgow, Scotland. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

This is part of a weekly series called “Pop Opinions” where The Lantern offers its take on the week’s pop culture news.

Let’s talk Ari G

Ariana Grande has been battling diva rumors for months now, and though she protests, the rumors persist. She has responded to these accusations with the same highly sophisticated three-step plan. (The thought process behind which I have attempted to recreate below.)

Step 1: Defensively deny the rumors via Twitter. Deny, deny, deny. Anyone who thinks Ariana is a diva is obviously stupid and knows nothing about her. (Note: This isn’t the time to be level-headed — you have to get emotional and defensive if you want this to work. People are suggesting you are a diva. You cannot stand for this!)

Step 2: Laugh. Laugh until you cry, and then insert at least three crying-face emojis at the end of every tweet. This shows that you are actually crying, which is important if you want your fans to think you’re relatable and not a diva.

Step 3: Profess undying love for your fans. You have to gush with affection. It’s all about the fans. Ariana loves her fans and don’t you dare suggest otherwise. If you suggest otherwise, then you are seriously so stupid and not worth her time. Like at all.

For reasons that are still unclear, Ari’s three-step plan has proven fruitless. In order to counter this problem, the pint-sized pop princess has developed a new strategy: Act like an adult on camera. (Spoiler Alert: It isn’t working)

In her latest music video, “Love Me Harder,” Grande’s lithe frame is seen slowly twisting atop piles of sand. Her slinky motions coupled with her signature cat-eared headband give the illusion that she is not actually human but, in fact, an actual feline. It isn’t until the 1:20 mark that you realize you’re watching a music video and NOT an advertisement for Purina Cat Chow. Her lips say “love me harder,” but her body says “feed me and change my litter box.”

She’s trying to be something she’s not. Watching an Ariana Grande video is like reaching for a piping hot latte and tasting lukewarm milk — it’s underwhelming. On camera, the star appears as a plucky preteen playing dress-up in her parents’ bedroom. It’s unconvincing and painful to watch. She wears a constant look of concern, a worry that her parents could enter the room and ruin everything at any second. In each of her videos, she simply fails to “sell it.”

This is because of the fact that Ariana tries to be something she’s not. She denies that she is a diva, yet it’s glaringly obvious that she is, in fact, a diva. She’s sassy and feisty and altogether bratty, and if she would simply accept that, I think she would reach her stride.

But until then, she seems to be sticking to Plan A.

After allegedly wishing her fans would all “f—— die,” Grande responded by stating:

“That (rumor) had me laughing hysterically. Because anyone who knows me or has done any homework at all knows that I would literally give a limb for my fans.”

Girl, I’ve done my homework. I’ve read your Wikipedia page, and I follow you on no less than three social media platforms. I can tell you’re a diva and that’s OK. Also, if you’re handing out limbs, then I totally call dibs on your right leg.

Taylor Swift leaves Narita International Airport on Nov. 8 in Narita, Chiba, Japan. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Taylor Swift leaves Narita International Airport on Nov. 8 in Narita, Chiba, Japan. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

T-Swizzle’s got jokes

She’s the star the Internet loves to hate. For years, Taylor Swift has been the butt of online jokes, the victim of false labeling and a powerless pawn in a game of names that she’ll never win.

So you can imagine that I let out an audible “THANK GOD,” when I watched Swift’s latest music video for her no-doubt-soon-to-be-smash-hit “Blank Space.”

In the video, Taylor plays the role of a rich and lonely spinster, desperate to land herself a man. The song is practically dripping with irony, but it hints at a deep level of self-awareness that deserves acknowledgement.

The situation starts innocently enough, with Swift prancing about her estate alongside a bored-looking man who looks like he jumped straight out of a deodorant commercial. The two lovers bicycle around her living room, ride horses through the garden and share a formal dinner at opposite sides of the table.

And then Taylor goes straight up cray-cray — stabbing a cake, defacing portraits and biting the bottom lip of her boy toy’s unconscious body.

Swift’s behavior in the “Blank Space” video — though highly out of character — is important for a few very significant reasons.

On one hand, Taylor is poking fun at herself (take notes, Ariana). She’s playing the role that society created for her. A wealthy and deranged lunatic, prolifically unaware of reality and obsessed with finding love. And she’s finally having fun with it in a way that so deliciously embodies the sentiment: “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

She isn’t outright accepting the reputation, but she is undoubtedly owning it.

Despite the fact that the “Blank Space” video was shot in pure irony, it tackles darker themes than are typical for Taylor Swift. Mental instability, violence and a scene of sexual dominance are all featured in the video, marking a more mature image for the doe-eyed girl who previously cried on the floor and danced alongside woodland creatures in her apartment.

Well, she’s still dancing alongside woodland creatures … if you count the random live deer that appears next to Swift’s mantle in the video.

Humor aside, this is Taylor Swift in her prime. She’s clever, quirky and convincing.

And she’s literally laughing all the way to the bank.

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