In 2010, I popped a tyre in my car whilst parking outside a Taylor Swift concert. I’d only had my license for one week, and as I was on the phone to NRMA arguing that my 1992 Mazda 323 did not have a spare tyre anywhere, I started to panic because I thought I’d miss the show. I’d most definitely miss the support act, but the support act is not important when Taylor Swift is the main act and you feel like you were destined to be best friends. NOTE: I have since come to the realisation that I will never be best friends with Taylor Swift, nor will I be invited into her friendship squad full of Cool People and International Models.
In the end, my car did have a spare tyre underneath the boot (who knew?) and NRMA did show up in time to switch it over before my friend and I ran into the concert and arrived just in time to see Taylor walk on stage. And the show – just like all of her concerts since then – was well-rehearsed and entertaining and a wonderful night.
I’ve been a fan of Taylor Swift since Love Story came out – since her corkscrew curly hair awkwardly danced at awards shows and her catchy country music filled my iPod. She seemed candid in interviews and she was an awkward, lanky dancer just like me, therefore we were pretty much the same person and we might have been best friends in another life. Sure, some of her songs seemed a little young for me, and sure, I did start to feel like I might start to outgrow them, but I was a fan and that meant that I still bought tickets to her concert every time they came around.
After my friend and I left Taylor’s concert, we bumped into a friend outside of the venue.
“She gives those ‘shocked’ facial expressions and it looks a little posed,” the girl said.
This may have been the first time I started to doubt Taylor. She did seem a little rehearsed during her performance and she did have some over exaggerated facial expressions that she held onto for just a tad too long. But I still rolled my eyes at my friend. Taylor was (and still is) extremely talented and devoted and I felt the need to defend her. Her songs are all written either by her alone, or in collaboration with another songwriter. And in the music industry, that’s extremely rare.
It’s been six years since that concert and I now live in Sydney and work in PR, and I have to admit that I feel like things have changed recently. The more I work with people on how to speak to the media and how to represent themselves, the more I see that same training in Taylor. Taylor has been smart enough to stay in total control of her music and her image and her reputation and her interactions with fans. She calculates her answers and she is able to use her carefully worded interview responses to garner sympathy in order to redirect any negative opinions about her. There are no strands of her shiny, smooth hair out of place unless it is meant to be. She is viewed by the public exactly how she wants to be viewed, and I never noticed this until I started working in publicity.
I feel like I’ve had blind faith in Taylor since 2008; fabricated media stories didn’t phase me and her musical experiments interested me. When she transitioned from being a country music singer to being a pop singer, I was disappointed but not deterred. The songs are catchy and the lyrics are honest and I stayed a fan.
But we live in an era where fans have more access to a celebrity’s life because of gossip magazines and paparazzi photographs and leaked information. And perhaps this makes us feel like we know them. Do we feel cheated when a celebrity changes or grows up into a seemingly different person? Because Taylor has indeed grown up. She no longer sings country music. She’s progressed from dating members of One Direction to dating the next rumoured James Bond, and her once tight-lipped and heavily protected private life is out in the open for all the fans to see and judge. And it seems that it’s hard for some fans to bear.
From quick relationship rebounds to Snapchat revelations and online Twitter feuds, Taylor’s haters are looking for things to use to bring her down. And recently, I can’t help but feel they’re starting to succeed. Are they starting to show the real Taylor Swift? Has her persona been a fabrication until now and it’s all starting to unravel? I adore her music, but I am no longer charmed by her well-rehearsed acceptance speeches and interviews. Who knows what she’s really like. Is she fake? Real? Is her entire life a publicity stunt? Did she chemically straighten her hair all those years ago? Or does she have someone who straightens it for her every morning? Does she really date all the famous celebrities she seems to date?
Especially over the recent few months, I’ve started to have suspicions about the Taylor Swift we see on our computer screens. She just happens to be caught out on the beach kissing Tom Hiddleston? She then decides to take a trip to Rome the next week, and then they just happen to then hop on a plane to meet his parents in England. And then again, the two of them decide to travel around the world just as he’s about to start filming his new movie. This all seems like a strange coincidence. Or is it a publicity stunt? Is she a publicity stunt? Who knows.
Despite this, I don’t agree with recent articles saying that Taylor’s career is over. I suspect she’ll lay low until Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s Snapchat video has faded a little further from people’s minds, and then she’ll rise from nowhere with her boyfriend James Bond and she’ll release an album and there I’ll be, driving to the next concert and trying not to pop a tyre. Just kidding, who can afford to live in central Sydney and own a car?
I am still a huge fan of Taylor and her music, but perhaps it is my blind faith that has faded and I’m more aware of how she presents herself. I am more sceptical and less naive. And as long as she’s got material to use for her next platinum album, I’m happy. I probably wouldn’t pop a tyre for her again, but to be honest I never really wanted that to happen the first time.