In Defense Of Taylor Momsen


Whenever we post a picture or a quote from Taylor Momsen, the general reaction is “shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behavior,” followed by a heavy round of collective eye-rolling. But does she deserve it?

Let’s consider the strikes Momsen has against her: she’s a child star who first came to fame playing Cindy Lou Who in the big-screen adaptation of How The Grinch Stole Christmas when she was seven years old, which, in the eyes of many, shoots any chance she might have had at legitimate rock star credibility she might have to hell; she constantly drops comments bemoaning the Disney-fication of music, which, let’s be honest, aren’t entirely off-base but perhaps throw people off because they are coming from someone who yes, starred in a Dr. Seuss film and on Gossip Girl, she smokes (gasp!), and she dresses like she shops a vintage store stocked solely by fans of Cherie Currie and Courtney Love.

Momsen can’t seem to win: her career bothers people, her perceived “brattiness” bothers people, the nerve she has to attempt to be someone other than Cindy Lou Who bothers people, and her seemingly honest desire to be rock star realllly bothers people. She sometimes royally fucks up and drops obnoxious statements like “”Um, right now I’m trying to just finish my record and getting through the last season of Gossip Girl for right now. So not so much thinking about that,” when asked about Haitian earthquake relief. She’s recently made a concentrated effort to separate herself from the likes of Miley Cyrus, even though the two are actually going through many of the same things, if you think about it: they’re both attempting to segue into adulthood by developing post-child star personas, and hitting several speed bumps along the way.

But despite her seemingly oblivious and ridiculous statements at times, there is something frustrating about the way Momsen is constantly ripped apart. Here you have a 17-year-old girl rapidly changing, fucking up, making mistakes, dressing like her rock star heroines, legitimately attempting to make music, and trying to position herself as not just “that girl from the Dr. Seuss movie.” Is she hypocritical at times? Sure. Is she a poseur? Maybe. But she’s 17; she’s changing, she’s someone attempting to find and assert herself and become someone she feels comfortable being as an adult. Remember what that was like? Now try to imagine doing it in front of millions of people who would like you to please shut up and remember that you once helped the Grinch grow a heart when you were in first grade.

This is not to say that Momsen is representative of all 17-year-old girls, or a spokeswoman for awkward teenage transitional phases. But there is something honest about her as a representative of that strange period, in that she doesn’t apologize for who she is (even though in 10 years, like many of us, she might be rolling her eyes at her clothing choices and laughing over bad poetry) or what she’s trying to do with her life. And you know what else? She’s actually not a bad singer, at all:

Momsen herself, however, isn’t looking to represent teenage girls as a whole: “I don’t wanna be a role model. Hopefully, people will listen to my music and feel something, and be themselves. The music will talk to people. Just be yourself.” Momsen seems to be trying to do just that, and even if the general public doesn’t necessarily feel that it’s something to be celebrated, it should, at the very least, be something that all of us, on some level, can understand.

411 Music Interview: Taylor Momsen Of The Pretty Reckless

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