The unthinkable has happened. I’ve been pulled into the world of celebrity gossip! Is this my first step down the road to becoming a Brave New World style diehard Kardashian junkie? Is a subscription to E! in my near future? Am I one Kanye breakdown away from recording an impassioned “Leave Kanye Alone” vlog? What’s going on here? How did this happen?
The other day I came home from my pokémon adventures a little floppy. I was tired, but wired and my mind was wandering. I was lying in bed scrolling through Facebook and caught a friend’s post talking feverishly about some watershed snapchat from Kim Kardashian. Normally I wouldn’t give two shits, but my friend is clever, funny and her love of all things trash pop culture is endearing to the max. The conversation went on and on endlessly and emojiliciously (coining it). Everyone was so invested and it was a fun read merely hearing reactions. I saw a link and contemplated clicking while teetering on the edge of that rabbit hole. Abandoning hope, I took the leap.
Here’s a timeline that more succinctly explains any backstory I could stumble my way through.
You know what? This is entertaining. In fact it’s a riot. Yes, there are issues that matter in the world, but I’ve spent the last few days talking exclusively about Pokémon Go, so you know where I stand on that matter. It’s all about image as part of a greater industry that thrives on drama to further their narratives. These stories have heroes and villains. Taylor has always been cast as the former, with Kanye and Kim often cast as the latter. Kanye is a lunatic, as far as the world sees. It’s easy (and lazy) for the gossip industry to fall back on cognitive biases. As such the larger than life characters they create out of celebrities continue to grow.
I want to make it clear, I don’t have anything against Taylor Swift the person. She’s probably pretty rad. She’s successful and writes lots of catchy songs. I have zero reason to have a single problem with her. I’m less of a fan of Taylor Swift as a brand. There’s this bizarre tale created around her as someone who endured adversity, struggled and came out on top as a gracious underdog done good. It’s weird, considering she seems the poster child of white privilege. She came from a very wealthy family where owning a Lexus in high school was part of the deal. Her big break came after her father bought a large portion of a record label in order to sign her. Now I’m sure she’s a hard worker. Even with leg up after leg up, someone doesn’t get to the top of their game without pulling up their sleeves and getting down to business. I have no doubt that Taylor Swift the person is a bad ass bitch who ain’t nobody to fuck with.
The central persona built around Taylor is as “one of the girls”, and it’s so bizarre to watch. She’s portrayed as the bastion of accessibility. She’s just like all of her fans, totally down to earth. A friend of mine who’s all kinds of insightful told me that while her tour was fantastic to watch, the part where Taylor walks out, looks at the crowd and gives this whole “oh my god, I can’t believe all of you came out to see little ol’ me” speech was infuriating to the core. Who was she trying to fool? Was she trying to pretend she wasn’t some rich, successful amazonian pop juggernaut? How ridiculous could you get?
This whole snapchat thing has me gripped because it pulls back the veneer. Yes, the video is obviously edited, but whole sentences remain in place and paint the picture of Taylor as the intelligent, capable marketer she’s become. The strange Taylor mythos of the innocent little girl that’s created to sell records feels like a complete disservice to Swift as an individual. It reminds me of one of my favourite Miley interviews, where she’s open and candid about the fact that part of being a pop star is reinforcing the manufactured image your publicists want to sell. I know none of this stuff really matters. That’s not the point. I’m just constantly gobsmacked at people’s willingness to take it at face value. Then again, if you’re investing in this fiction for entertainment purposes, why would you want to?
I dunno. Real people aren’t two dimensional. Why would celebrities be any different?