Music’s Play on Fantasy: Are Lyrics Just Lyrics?

By: Sarah E.S. Watt, LMHC, CSAT Candidate
Therapist, The Refuge – A Healing Place

taylor swiftAs a soon-to-be certified sex addiction therapist and a mother to a 2 and a half year old, I have begun to look at the culture of modern music a bit differently.   See what was once simply fun and catchy pop music becomes a bit more concerning.  Songs like “Blank Space” (2014) by Taylor Swift or Habits (Stay High) (2014) by Tove Lo, take on a whole new meaning.  I turn on the radio during the commute to and from work and find myself drawn into these catchy tunes, I will admit.  See, I have a 16 year old sister, and know all too well about Taylor at this point.  Plus, the truth is, there is a part of me that is very drawn to the story of such songs, much like several other thousands of fans.  Music has in many ways influenced culture and so the question remains, is there really a reason for such concern today? 

How would you approach the girl in treatment who has been cheated on multiple times and begins to cheat herself or the one who stays despite how bad things get because well, hey this is how it is supposed to be right?  In Swifts’ song she speaks very candidly about the game of relationships and being able to in the end simply fill the blank space with another man.  Swift knew of the troubles of this man and relationship even before it began as she sang about it being “my next mistake”.   These messages appear to be reaching our culture more and more.  Sex is woven into this even if not spoken out loud in lyrics.  Relationships are continuing to lose value as divorce rates rise and as violence becomes the norm rather than exception within them.   It appears that Taylor was simply trying to go to bat with the media in a very personal way through this song.  Unfortunately, the thousands of young women on the other end are hearing a much different message.  I have concerns not only due to my profession, my role as a parent, but also for the numbers of young women that I see entering treatment with these similar views.

toveTove Lo sums the problem up for many of the women that I work with in her lyrics as follows; “You’re gone and I got to stay high, all the time, to keep you off my mind” (2014).  This leads into the debate about how our culture continues to move towards instant gratification in all things.  I know personally I grow more and more impatient in-between T.V. shows because I have grown so accustomed to DVR.  This is one of many ways that we are becoming accustomed to having our needs met, NOW!  The nature of addictions is to immediately relieve and the faster and more effectively it is done the better.  The reality of sex, love, and relationships is the exact opposite because they take work and that takes time to get the results of a lifetime.  My grandmother always explained it best when she would tell me that if I choose to move onto the next guy I will surely find the same issues arising yet again.  The job in addressing sex and love addictions becomes very clear.  Help these young women understand the nature of relationships for all it can be by building tools for intimacy spiritually, emotionally, and physically, when the time is right.

So are we responsible for giving people the truth or allowing the fantasy that is portrayed in modern culture to continue for generations to come?  Believe me, I don’t believe that Taylor Swift or Tove Lo alone could have such an impact, but the collective culture can.  There are also a multitude of songs which tell it more realistically but they don’t seem to make the billboard top 10 or even the top 100. I won’t even start in on the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack.  It leaves a lot up to debate.

 

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