Friday, December 8, 2023

I’m Not Sure Why I’m So Upset for Taylor Swift… But What Does Her Break Up Mean for Her Fans?

Nicky Dewe breaks down the news that Taylor Swift has broken up with long-time love Joe Alwyn – what it means for her, her 13-year-old daughter and Swifties everywhere. And, where does Taylor go from here?

For Swifties around the world, this Easter has hit different. With the news that Taylor Swift has split from her boyfriend of six years, British actor Joe Alwyn, many have been forced to put down their creme eggs and consider whether everything they thought they knew about her was wrong. 

I mean, what the hell is happening? Wasn’t he supposed to be ‘the one’. He co-wrote songs on her most recent albums, stayed home to babysit her cats while she prepared for her tour, supported her through the infamous and incredibly stressful snapchat spat with Kim Kardashian. What else can a pop star want from a partner? In an article for People magazine an unnamed close source stated, “He is her rock. Their relationship is mature and wonderful.” I mean, if you can’t rely on an unnamed source to speak the truth then where does that leave you?

It may sound like I’m overly caught up in this situation but in fact my relationship with Taylor is heavily mediated through my 13-year-old daughter. She is a super fan. I know what I know because of the many stories she tells me about Taylor’s inner workings.

Her obsession kicked off when I scored us free tickets to the Reputation concert in 2018.

She was eight years old at the time and utterly mesmerised by this whirling dervish of hair, sequins and heartfelt musings. Since that memorable night at Mount Smart, she’s been in deep, growing up with Taylor Swift as her hero and I have no issue with it. Her message for young women is by and large a good one of standing your ground, owning your shit – and more recently voting the Republicans out of power. 

Taylor Swift Vmas 2019 GIF by 2018 MTV Video Music Awards

It’s also a bonding thing between her friends, who are all in thrall to Taylor’s blend of emotional vulnerability and sassy clapbacks. As a group they enjoy travelling down Taylor wormholes, unpicking the subtext of particular lyrics, analysing set lists for secret meaning, searching for clues in her social media posts.

And strangely, despite the fact that Taylor’s life couldn’t be more different than theirs, they find her relatable. Nevermind that she’s been making headlines since she was 17, has a net worth of $570 million, travels by private jet, and carries her cats around in a backpack. At the end of the day she’s still just a girl, standing in front of a whole lot of other girls (and others), asking them to love her. And they are answering yes. 

Maybe it’s because Taylor has a clever knack of making her dramas seem like theirs. No, they don’t know what it’s like to be blindsided at the VMA’s by Kanye West. But they have had an embarrassing moment at school that felt just as crushing. No, they haven’t wound up in a public feud with former pal Katy Perry, but they do know what it’s like to be disappointed by a friend. No, they haven’t, as a result of relentless media harassment and constant character assassinations, had to spend a year incognito. But at some point they’ve all wanted to hide away when the world gets too much. We all get that one.

But here’s the part that is so upsetting right now for her loyal supporters. When all that chaos was playing out, and she had to retreat from the circus and rebuild herself, she had Joe by her side. We know this because she told everyone through the lyrics of her last four albums. And while so many of her previous relationships were a free-for-all of public scrutiny, this one was private and personal and seemingly… normal. Just a couple of hugely wealthy megastars going quietly about their lives like the rest of us plebs. And everyone loved that for her.

But now, the demise of this relationship can’t be blamed on the press or external forces making it impossible for a humble 40-time chart topper to have a successful private life. No, this one’s come a cropper because of the protagonists themselves.

And what does this mean for Taylor’s ability to have a meaningful partnership? I mean let’s not get ahead of ourselves, at 33 the woman’s still got her whole life ahead of her. But she also has a hell of a hectic schedule and an existence that, we’re now sharply reminded, isn’t remotely normal in any way shape or form. What are the odds of being able to hold it down on the home front with all that stuff going on? If she does want to find a partnership that works, perhaps she needs to take a leaf out of Dolly or Oprah’s book and find a nice quiet fella of few words who is happy to stay home and do some work around the mansion while she captivates global audiences. Historically, these types have proved difficult to come by.

Reality TV gif. Taylor Swift steps forward eagerly. Text, "Really?"

Or maybe Taylor will now model a different path to her young fans. Maybe she’ll demonstrate that actually being in a long-term monogamous relationship is not a prerequisite for a rich, rewarding and satisfying life. She’s already shown that she can rise from adversity with a new narrative that only makes her fans feel more connected. Surely that’s what we’ll see next. And though most of us will never know what it’s like to break up with our boyfriend and then go out and perform to 60,000 people that same night. We’ll still somehow feel that she’s just like us.

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