Short Take: Olivia Rodrigo Has No Respect

To be fair, I have no clue who Olivia Rodrigo is, but she is apparently a pop star, which means things she says are given some prominence. Enough so, apparently, to appear on Page Six.

Olivia Rodrigo knows the impact she has on fans of color, revealing in a new Q&A that she herself once believed only white girls could be recognized as true pop stars.

“I sometimes get DMs from little girls being like, ‘I’ve never seen someone who looked like me in your position.’ And I’m literally going to cry, like, just thinking about it,” Rodrigo, 18, said in the V Magazine feature.

“I feel like I grew up never seeing that. Also, it was always like, ‘Pop star,’ that’s a white girl.”

There were no pop stars of color? Pop stars were all white girls?

And the list goes on. The question isn’t whether Rodrigo believes what she’s saying. Who knows what she knows. Perhaps her life experience at age 18 is limited and she’s unaware of these pop stars who preceded her. Perhaps she only listened to “white girls” so that’s all she knows. To some extent, she appears to be speaking more directly about the lack of Filipino pop stars, which may be even if her words said something different. But it surely wasn’t for lack of pop stars who weren’t “white girls.”

But really, who cares what some 18-year-old has to say about such things, particularly when the evidence to the contrary is obvious, overwhelming and undeniable? One of the most pervasive, damaging and intellectually dishonest aspects of racist identity politics is that a claim that’s clearly false is accepted, and acted upon, as a truism of the faith. No, cops don’t slaughter all black people in the streets like dogs. No, women are not being constantly raped on college campuses. No, 90+% of all claims of sexual assault are not true.

Yet, these are not merely beliefs that have somehow managed to become “truth” in the minds of a wide swathe of progressives, but have become so foundational in their belief system that its impossible to discuss any aspect of law or reform that does not accept these are absolute truths.

When tenets are grounded in gross falsehoods, we end up not fixing problems but exacerbating them. This isn’t to say that Olivia Rodrigo’s childish grievance will somehow give rise to a movement to cancel all white pop stars to make room for” women of color,” because Aretha wasn’t black enough for Rodrigo. It’s unlikely that she has anywhere near that degree of clout or that the error of her silly claim isn’t readily apparent even to the truest believer in social justice.

But we’ve watched what’s happened to the Karens, white women exercising their “privilege” by failing to adequately adhere to the orthodoxy of the woke even though, we’re told, they are  historically marginalized and oppressed too, but just not high enough on the victim hierarchy to avoid ruin when venting their feelings.

What Rodrigo, in her claim, offers is the opportunity to see more clearly how outrageously silly, grossly hyperbolic and fundamentally wrong claims of racial oppression can not only be said, but said as if it wasn’t ridiculous nonsense and, perhaps, to be taken seriously. Is there any claim of racism that can be called total nonsense? Can anyone challenge a “person of color,” one of the most counterproductive euphemisms around, without being racist for doing so?

There is racism. Everything is not racist. When a claim of racism is false, it is not racist to say so. Indeed, the best thing we can do to end racism is to stop promoting outrageous exaggeration and the adored vagaries of “systemic” and “structural,” and start facing real problems and dealing with them effectively.

Long before some 18-year-old named Olivia Rodrigo was a twinkle in her father’s eye, there was a black woman from Memphis who was beloved for her soul music. Show her a little respect.

7 thoughts on “Short Take: Olivia Rodrigo Has No Respect

  1. Quinn Martindale

    I wouldn’t classify the queen of soul as a pop star, but it’s still a bizarre claim given that Rodrigo has essentially the same Disney channel to pop star trajectory as Zendaya or Selena Gomez who are roughly 5 and 10 years older than her respectively.

    1. SHG Post author

      Your classifications of pop stars matter deeply to me. But then, it might have something to do with your age and experience.

  2. PseudonymousKid

    “When a claim of racism is false, it is not racist to say so.”

    I’m sad you had to type something so simple, but it’s so important to understand if we want to make any actual headway. Can we just embrace dialectics already and reason – or hug – it out together? Some ideas win, some ideas lose. Such is life. Then maybe you can go back to talking about actual issues too, instead of some person’s naivety.

  3. Curtis

    If a white man like me claimed that there were no black, women pop stars, it would not go well. Good thing that she is a woman of color.

  4. Dan J

    When I was young I wanted to be a football star like Barry Sanders. It never once occurred to me that I was white and he was black therefore I need a different role model, or a different goal. What kind of parent teaches their kid to only identify with people who share superficial physical characteristics?

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