As many of us know, everything in our world is thanks to the life-giving energy of the mitochondria. If there is one thing we all remember from our fifth-grade science class, it is “the mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell.” Since life first began some four billion years ago, mitochondria have supplied us with the energy and drive needed to evolve from a single cell organism to mass murderers and destructors of the earth. But as humans have taken control of our own evolution, has the mitochondria’s driving force of energy, its constant, continuous presence in our body, ceased to be the agent of change we know it once was? Not so. For like us, the mitochondria have continued to evolve, taking on new roles more than merely providing energy so that we can continue to lay waste to an empire, a world it worked so hard to build ever since it was first endosymbiosed. Now, the mitochondria have inserted themselves into becoming what medical student extraordinaire Erin Moroze has described as “the powerhouse of pop culture, feminism, and revolutionary music.”
With the reemergence of Taylor Swift, white-feminist, victim, pop-culture mastermind, undeniable star, the mitochondria have once again proven their new powerhouse stance. But I am getting ahead of myself. While many esteemed experts have debated on when the mitochondria took on their new role, one date stands out in most minds: the 2010 VMAs. This show was a feministic victory, the beginning of the current fourth wave of feminism. During this time, not only did Chelsea Handler become the first woman in sixteen years to host the award show, BUT ALSO Lady Gaga was nominated for 13 awards, the most nominated artist for a single year (a record that has yet to be broken) and the first female artist to receive two nominations for Video of the Year for her masterpieces “Bad Romance” and “Telephone.” Living up to this record and prestige, in a huge pop culture moment, Lady Gaga wore what has become one of the most controversial fashion outfits to date: the infamous meat dress.
When speaking to Ellen DeGeneres later about her choice of outfit, Gaga stated, “It has many interpretations, but for me this evening it’s [saying], ‘If we don’t stand up for what we believe in, if we don’t fight for our rights, pretty soon we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones.’” Many interpretations. Hmm. Could Gaga have been advocating that by covering herself in meat, as opposed to a plant based dress, that she was symbolically covering herself with mitochondria? That the mitochondria are what gives her the power to break records for females everywhere? To make revolutionary music that advocates for all? Was this the beginning of the shift of the mitochondria from powerhouse of the cell to powerhouse of pop culture, feminism, and revolutionary music?
Delving in deeper to this theory, who would carry on the legacy and shift of the mitochondria with Gaga? Going back to 2010, we remember Gaga’s song “Telephone” which was not only named one of the top singles of the year, but also won the VMA award for Best Collaboration. Collaboration, aka, “the action of working with someone.” As in someone to continue on the legacy. In an incredibly feministic music video, Gaga is bailed out of jail by this collaborator. As Gaga and the collaborator drive around in the “Pussy Wagon,” we the viewer are left with the words “To Be Continued.” Would the collaborator continue with Gaga to help the mitochondria shift its power? Who was this collaborator? Beyoncé. Yes, you heard me: Beyoncé Knowles-Carter of the House Houston, First of Her Name, the Goddess, Queen of Pop and the World, Diva of the Great Visual Album, Breaker of Records, Mother of the Beyhive.
Who could be better than Beyoncé at helping aid the mitochondria with this shift? She embodies everything the mitochondria wanted to power: pop culture, feminism, revolutionary music. It is also a well-known fact that Beyoncé does not need food to survive, instead relying on the power of the universe and THE MITOCHONDRION. But where is the proof? 2016. Met Gala. Once again, following in Lady Gaga’s footsteps, Beyoncé showed her support and aid in the mitochondria shift by wearing what can only be described as a Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum (RER).
This fact is universally acknowledged and has become one of the most successful Beyoncé themed memes to date. But what does the RER have to do with the mitochondria? If anything, isn’t Beyoncé supporting the RER over the mitochondria? In a frequently cited paper by Carlotta Giorgi et al., entitled “Structural and Functional Link Between the Mitochondrial Network and the Endoplasmic Reticulum,” it has become a well-known theory that the RER and mitochondria have an ongoing network allowing continuous communication between them. The RER supports the mitochondria and its goals, suggesting that Beyoncé, by symbolically dressing as a RER, is showing her support for the mitochondria. In addition, the RER would be nonfunctional without the energy supplied to it by the mitochondria, meaning that Beyoncé as the RER, the symbol of pop culture, feminism, and revolutionary music, would be unable to survive without the mitochondria. Thus, the mitochondria is her powerhouse and consequently the powerhouse of pop culture, feminism, and revolutionary music. IN ADDITION, the third single from her feministic, revolutionary album “Lemonade,” “Hold Up,” was originally written to be about the mitochondria:
"Hold up, it’s the mitochondria
Slow down, it’s the mitochondria
Back up, it’s the mitochondria
Step down, it’s the mitochondria
Can’t you see, it’s the great mitochondria
You can’t get by without your mitochondria
Hold up, it’s the mitochondria
Slow down, it’s the mitochondria
Endosymbiosed, Taken from its home
But managed to keep its own chromosomes
That didn’t stop it, it still kept us fit
And became our mo-other
How are we so fortunate? Getting something like this
Now we get to use the oxygen and move on from a single cell
Know that it let us evolve, all the problems it solved
Now oxygen ain’t poisonous, it’s powerin’ our fun"
“Hold Up,” as it was released, is an ode to a partner who Beyoncé loves, but also is searching to figure out where the partner’s loyalty lies. Beyoncé wrote a song from the viewpoint of the mitochondria: like the singer of “Hold Up,” the mitochondria love us but are wondering where our loyalty lies as we destroy the earth and all the mitochondria that are not associated with humans. In the original version of the song, shown above, Beyoncé is reassuring the mitochondria that we do love them, we know they’re amazing, and we will help them become known for being the powerhouse of pop culture, feminism, and revolutionary music.
It is a clear and undisputable fact that with Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, the mitochondrion needs no additional help to sit on its throne. However, who do we know that has recently been in the news for allegedly copying Beyoncé? Who do we know is trying to rebrand themselves as a feminist and revolutionary musician in addition to their pop culture? Taylor. Alison. Swift.
But how does Taylor Swift support the mitochondria? How is she making it known that the mitochondrion is now the powerhouse of more than just the cell? In much the same way as Lady Gaga and Beyoncé have: through fashion. Taylor Swift has just graced us with the release date of her new album, “Reputation.” Listening to the two new singles released, it is clear that “the old Taylor is dead.” Taylor Swift is reinventing herself, and this will become apparent in her album “Reputation.” Looking at the cover, we see the undeniable, clear, mitochondrion on her right shoulder.
Her right shoulder. Taylor Swift is right handed, meaning when she writes her songs, she is using her right hand -- and consequently her right shoulder -- where the mitochondrion on her album cover is located. Taylor Swift, previously known for writing songs about love, songs powered by her heart, is done with receiving her energy from the success and failures of matters of the heart. The old Taylor is dead. There is only her reputation, a reputation powered purely through aerobic respiration. She has come back from the dead time and time again, not from relying on her heart, but on her mitochondria. She is coming back now, for what is sure to be her most successful album to date because her music is now, and forever more, powered by the powerhouse of her body, the powerhouse of pop culture, the powerhouse of the still unattainable goals of feminism and revolutionary music for Taylor: the mitochondria.
It is 2017, seven years after the VMAs. Seven, the number of perfection, “The Seed of Life.” Following the prophecy, seven years after it first began the transition,the mitochondria have come full circle, no longer are they purely the powerhouse of the cell. They are now the powerhouse of pop culture, feminism, and revolutionary music. The mitochondria have won. The mitochondria power all.