Wednesday, June 10, 2015

InfoSec Taylor Swift @SwiftOnSecurity (Twitter feed review)

Twitter Handle: @Swiftonsecurity
Genre: Pop Culture, Parody
Naja's Morality Rating: PG for nihilistic tendencies

I've never reviewed a Twitter feed, but because there isn't a major label or company backing the efforts of this Tweeter so I think it counts as an "indie!" *realizes she is on thin ice, but moves forward*

Taylor Swift is a world-famous, Grammy award winning pop star who got her start in country/Western music. You probably knew that, especially after the explosive popularity of "Shake It Off," but I didn't know anything about Taylor Swift until someone introduced me to "Taydolfs!" These memes switch Taylor Swift and Adolf Hitler's quotes and photographs.

Here's a Taydolf Swiftler:

Here's another Taydolf: 

And here is everyone's favorite Taydolf:

Instantly, I was inspired to begin a creative journey involving a manic swapping of quotes and publicity shots for Marilyn Monroe and Hitler:

And Donald Trump and Marilyn Monroe:

And then I decided that I need to stop wasting so much time.

The real Taylor Swift has a penchant for (to paraphrase) "reclaiming the media's narrative," according to this interview about some of her motivations for creating "Blank Space." Her most recent music video is "Bad Blood." It features Swift as an agent attempting to recover stolen data that was stolen from her. It's the most radical departure from her typical music video I could find while looking through her work on YouTube:

The pop star has prided herself on staying in touch with her fans in interviews both from her teenaged years and now in her twenties. Is it possible that the real Taylor Swift allowed the parody, "Infosec Taylor Swift," a Twitter feed with over 70,000 followers, to influence her artistic choices?

I know that internet tabloids are saying that "Bad Blood" was inspired by something between Swift and Katy Perry and are going back and forth about that, but almost all of the instructors in artistic fields will advise artists to create fiction which blends, blurs and compounds many different influences, using specifics to create mixtures. That seems to be what most creative types do. The Katy Perry thing might have a grain of truth, but it also sounds like tabloids jamming more drama and celebrities into their stories instead of looking for the best possible truth.

Doing a Google search on "Swift on Security" or "InfoSec Taylor Swift" will get pages full of commentary about this Twitter account. This massive Twitter feed probably wouldn't go unnoticed  by the pop star, especially if it was public commentary about her love life which inspired "Blank Space" and public commentary which inspired other videos. Apparently, she took some flack for the incorporation of her and her friends' romantic relationships into her songs, and that inspired some pre-show videos which played along with the media commentary.

Some biographers noted that Marlon Brando seemed to start believing all the hyperbolic buzz about himself and that his behavior began to take on the same shape as the caricature-like headlines about him. This is similar to why psychological labels are so often unproductive and tend to hinder peoples' mental health progress and access to treatment. Fortunately, the creation of a music video is a much more fun and positive transformation of this kind of energy. 

So... there is one guy behind SwiftOnSecurity, typing all the Tweets. He exudes geek in his sense of humor, and his deadpan delivery is hilarious. It's amazing.

Why it's hilarious is disturbing though. Why did I, who didn't know one thing about Taylor Swift, automatically know that a beautiful young woman would never speak like @SwiftOnSecurity? I knew on an instinctive, gut-level, that a successful woman would not speak like this- not like a successful man who is knowledgeable enough about computer science to joke about it so effectively. If this Twitter account were parodying a male pop star, it wouldn't be funny. And this Twitter account is so damned funny for the same reason that the Taydolfs and... Mondolfs... or... MonDons... are so funny. It's offensive to realize how funny it is to switch the quotes of beautiful young women with powerful men.

I'm not the only one who has noticed this. This Swift on Security Twitter feed has gotten me and a lot of other people thinking of all kinds of gender issues. It's like watching old comedians dressing up as women. Those were really funny until a growing awareness of injustices towards transgender people came about. Now, those sketches are kind of, "meh," although sometimes they are still funny. There's still timing and contrast and context and awkwardness to make it funny. But it isn't a guaranteed laugh anymore the way it was- not like the way switching the quotes of successful male and female public figures are a guaranteed laugh. Something like Some Like It Hot will always be funny, but I think that's because Billy Wilder carefully outlined clashing cultures in his films.

There are so many aggressive campaigns about gender inequality issues, like the lack of women in STEM, that it's easy to see how those who view themselves as contrarian to the mainstream often are the mainstream. Mainstream, traditional viewpoints, which we absorb via impressions we get from our early attachments, do not need or want publicity the way that groups with less power do. Groups with less power, but some power, are forced to get out there and aggressively publicize their complaints unless they want themselves and everyone like them to continue getting mowed down infinitely into the future. I believe that many people believe that well-advertised ideas are widely accepted ideas, and that affirmative action plans are therefore reflective of widely accepted beliefs.

Feeds like @SwiftOnSecurity demonstrate on a fundamental, subconscious gut-level, that freedom from conformity to gender norms is not at all a widely accepted thing. There still seems to be a polarization of male and female values in geek culture that is felt by our mass culture, demonstrated by how funny these Taydolfs and InfoSec Swift posts are. Differences in expectations for emotional awareness and differences in expectations for the expression of thought and emotion in the genders is still one of our largest cultural gaps if the laugh factor of these memes is any indication (and maybe it isn't, but humor is so subconscious and connected to what we really think and feel and how we were raised, that it seems like a much better barometer than most things).

This Twitter feed also tweets popular news articles about cyber crime, which is extremely interesting! I inherited a collection of older mystery writing reference books, and I think it would be so much harder to write crime mysteries now. I would think it would involve a great deal of research into computer science.

So I'm a fan of Taylor Swift's now too, I guess! I watched tons of her music videos in order to write this little article and I found almost all of her songs to be sincere, easy to relate to and catchy. *shrug* Hopefully, SwiftOnSecurity can take some of the new imagery from "Bad Blood" and create more great memes like this one, which are, most disturbingly, funny because they're probably true: