I am once again here to proclaim with all the energy of Bobby Newport that I’m a fan of Taylor Swift, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
But I’m also here to point out that, like the millions of other people who have already watched it in the few hours since its release, I’ve seen her new music video for “Anti-Hero.” And I really can’t get over how Taylor Swift holds her pen.
As “It must be exhausting always rooting for the anti-hero” lyrics consume the melody — which is kind of a reverby jam, by the way — the video depicts a dual-role Swift as a student of herself. A chaotic, party-ready Swift gives a blackboard lesson to a second retro Swift, who’s contrasted in an antiquated houndstooth sweater, as the latter takes notes.
I have a few questions. First, since Swift’s perpetual takeaway is that “everyone will betray you” — the message scrawled across the chalkboard, which hearkens back to “Bad Blood,” the whole “Reputation” era, and even “Picture to Burn” — why doesn’t she start surrounding herself with better friends (or maybe just be a better friend)?
But second, and somehow far more importantly, if you’re going to feature yourself writing in a music video scene, how can you not break yourself of your serial killer tendencies and learn how to hold a pen properly? Who let this girl do this?
It’s a real “Rocky II” moment, except instead of illiteracy preventing her from reading cue cards, the music video exposes that no matter how well she can hold a high note, Taylor Swift can’t hold a basic writing instrument.
It isn’t as though Swift is uneducated. Despite her musical ambitions picking up in her early and mid-teens, she attended a traditional high school for two years before switching to homeschooling and even graduating a year early. And though she never attended college, thanks to New York University bestowing an honorary doctorate on Swift this spring, the 32-year-old Swift is now about on pace with Her Highness Dr. First Lady Jill Biden.
So apparently an inability to hold a pen didn’t hold Swift back intellectually, but some kids aren’t so fortunate. In fact, senior pediatric doctors have sounded the alarm on the pencil-grip problem because kids today are having a hard time developing finger dexterity as a result of their constant use of technology over traditional penmanship — which has undoubtedly worsened since teachers unions pushed to keep schoolchildren in a state of “virtual” everything under the guise of the “Covid emergency.”
In 2018, The Guardian told the story of a 6-year-old boy named Patrick who was in occupational therapy to help overcome his tech-induced handicap so he could hold a pencil effectively.
“In retrospect, I see that I gave Patrick technology to play with, to the virtual exclusion of the more traditional toys,” his mother Laura said. “When he got to school, they contacted me with their concerns: he was gripping his pencil like cavemen held sticks. He just couldn’t hold it in any other way and so couldn’t learn to write because he couldn’t move the pencil with any accuracy.”
Pen-holding methods might sound trivial, but when kids like Patrick can’t command a basic writing utensil, they can’t learn to write — which carries direct implications for reading, comprehension, confidence, communication, and overall literacy.
That’s why doctors and good primary educators overcome children’s “cavemen”-like “radical cross palmer grasp” and instead reinforce a “dynamic tripod grip,” which is done by holding a pen or pencil between the thumb and pointer finger for optimal control and dexterity. This is generally considered superior to a “thumb-wrap grasp” or a “five-finger grasp,” among others.
Taylor Swift’s insane grip doesn’t even make the charts.
Many things can spoil a good song’s music video — as Swift fans should know after she ruined her best song of all time with a 10-minute version and an unwanted video — but a superstar holding her pen like a psychopath isn’t a wrench we saw coming.
Maybe Taylor Swift should take a break from “f-cking the patriarchy” and sticking it to Scooter Braun and instead learn how to hold a writing utensil, mmk?