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What Taylor Swift tells us about reputation management

来源:FT中文网    2017-12-07 07:19

        Ill repute outweighs good in pop and rock. “It gives a strange fascination,” Thin Lizzy admitted in their song “Bad Reputation”. Joan Jett recorded an identically titled song in which the “queen of rock ‘n’ roll” bragged that she didn’t “give a damn about my reputation”, yowling defiance at prudes tut-tutting about young women doing what they want: “You’re living in the past, it’s a new generation.”        流行音乐和摇滚音乐领域的坏名声超过好名声。“瘦利兹乐队”(Thin Lizzy)在他们的歌曲《坏声誉》(Bad Reputation)中承认,“它赋予了一种奇怪的魅力”。琼•杰特(Joan Jett)录制了一首同名歌曲,这位“摇滚女王”在歌中吹嘘说,她“根本不在乎我的声誉”,并对那些非议我行我素的年轻女性的假正经人士嗤之以鼻:“你们生活在过去,现在是新一代”。
        That was in 1980. Several generations later, Jett’s fellow Pennsylvanian Taylor Swift is releasing the year’s most anticipated album, Reputation. It follows a downturn in the singer’s own standing. Previously lauded as a paragon of apple-pie goodness who wrote all her own songs, Swift has been traduced by haters as the precise opposite — a publicity-obsessed schemer who is accused of devising fake romantic relationships with other celebrities, who does cryptic things in pursuit of world domination as a supposed member of the Illuminati and is seen to have contracted out her music to the world’s slickest, most soulless pop producers.        那是在1980年。几代人以后,和杰特一样来自宾夕法尼亚的泰勒•斯威夫特(Taylor Swift)发布了年度最受期待的专辑《声誉》(Reputation)。此前斯威夫特自身的地位遭到削弱。此前她被誉为像苹果派那样良善的典范,所有的歌曲都是自己写的,但斯威夫特现在被憎恨者诋毁为完全相反——一个好出风头的算计者,被指捏造与其他名人有浪漫关系,被猜测是“光明会”(Illuminati)成员,为了追求世界统治而做着神神秘秘的事情,而且被视为将自己的音乐外包给世界上最华而不实、最没有灵魂的流行音乐制作人。
        Reputation’s cover shows Swift with one side of her face covered by a black rash of newsprint, a shady counterpart to the unblemished other side of her face. It recalls Abraham Lincoln’s saying: “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” All reputations are suspect, in other words. They provide a distorted approximation of a person’s true nature.        《声誉》的封面显示,斯威夫特的一侧脸上叠加着一层报纸,与另一侧没有遮挡的脸相比显得有些阴暗。它让人想起了亚伯拉罕•林肯(Abraham Lincoln)的名言:“品行如树,名声如影。行实名虚。”换言之,所有的声誉都是可疑的。它们是对一个人真实品性的失真写照。
        But that cannot be right. Reputation is a vital aspect of our public selves, not just a shadow of our real selves. Unlike status, which is high or low, it has a moral component, spoken about in terms of good and bad. It relates to one’s good name, the loss of which can feel like a death. The sacked army officer Cassio in Othello bewails his drunken disgrace: “Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial.”        但是这不可能是正确的。声誉是我们公众自我的一个重要方面,而不仅仅是我们真实自我的一个影子。与有高有低的地位不同,它有一个道德要素,可以用好和坏来评论。它与一个人的好名声有关,失去好名声的感觉可能像是死了一样。在《奥赛罗》(Othello)里,被免职的军官凯西奥(Cassio)为自己醉酒后的失态悲叹道:“哦,我失去了我的名声!我失去了自己不朽的一部分,剩下的就是兽性。”
        We like to imagine ourselves as more liberated than in Shakespeare’s day, less trammelled by conventions about how we should behave. Surely the modern Cassio could do a Thin Lizzy and admit to a strange fascination with his bad reputation. But the opposite turns out to be the case. The public persona that we present to the world grows ever more significant.        我们喜欢认为自己比莎士比亚(Shakespeare)时代更加自由,在行为方面受传统的约束较少。现代的凯西奥肯定可以像“瘦利兹乐队”那样,承认坏声誉有一种奇怪的魅力。但现实恰恰相反。我们向世界呈现的公众形象越来越重要。
        In the digital age reputation is inescapable. Not a day goes by without our judging something or being judged ourselves. We like each other’s tweets, get tracked by credit-rating agencies, give stars to Uber drivers and are given stars in return. The assignation of value unfolds in real time at an unprecedented scale. The Chinese government’s plan, now delayed, to set up a social credit system, awarding points to citizens based on analysis of their behaviour through their data trails, is the logical endpoint of such a process.        在数字时代,声誉是不可避免的。我们每一天都在评判外界事物,或者受到评判。我们为彼此的推文点赞,受到信用评级机构的跟踪,给优步(Uber)司机打分,还会得到他们的评分。价值评定以空前规模实时进行。中国政府计划建立社会信用体系,通过公民的数据轨迹来分析他们的行为,并据此授予他们分数(现在这一计划被推迟了)。这类计划是此类过程合乎逻辑的终点。
        This is reputation as brand, a system of identification that treats behaviour as a transactional product, goods to be exchanged rather than goodness in the deeper sense. But the moral dimension cannot be erased. The sexual crimes and scandals that have emerged in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s disgrace have ruined a succession of reputations, bringing low powerful men previously uncensured by laws and institutions. Tax avoiders find their good names on the line following the Paradise Papers leak, hauled up before the court of public opinion in the absence of other forms of sanction.        这是把声誉当作品牌,一种将行为看作可交易产品的身份识别系统,是可以交换的商品,而不是更深层意义上的美德。但道德维度不能被抹杀。在哈维•韦恩斯坦(Harvey Weinstein)身败名裂后浮出水面的性犯罪和丑闻破坏了一连串的声誉,让那些以前不受法律和制度惩罚的大人物们身败名裂。在《天堂文件》(Paradise Papers)泄露后,避税者发现自己的好名声面临危险,在没有其他形式处罚的情况下,他们受到舆论法庭的审判。
        With her background in country music, a repository of traditional Christian values, Swift understands that reputation is more than skin deep and not just a branding exercise. Her new songs are full of the language of morality (“I Did Something Bad”, “Don’t Blame Me”). Reputation is an instrument of moral justice, sharpened by mass communication — a dangerously double-edged one, open to misuse and misappropriation, as the attacks on her own reputation attest. Unlike Jett, she gives a damn about it. She is right.        凭借在乡村音乐领域的背景,以及传统的基督教价值观底蕴,斯威夫特明白,声誉并不肤浅,也不只是品牌推广活动。她的新歌充满了道德语言(“我做了坏事”和“不要责怪我”)。声誉是道德正义的工具,借助大众传播变得更加锋利——这是一柄危险的双刃剑,容易被误用和滥用,她本人的声誉受到攻击证明了这一点。与杰特不同,她在乎声誉。她是对的。
        The writer is the FT’s pop critic        本文作者是英国《金融时报》流行文化评论员

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