There are a handful of universal truths on the Internet: dogs hanging out with babies is always a goldmine, dialogue can always be replaced by a GIF, and Taylor Swift is easy to hate. For internet-bound writer, Taylor Swift giving an interview about her romantic troubles is often better than an open bar, giving us reason to roll our eyes and shoot off a sequence of scathing, punchy posts filled with commentary about how Swift is teaching young girls that marriage and fairy tales are the only thing worth striving for.
But Swift's most recent interview, with Jody Rosen of New York Magazine, may just force us into not only respecting her, but maybe even liking her. Of course, this doesn't mean we're about to fall down a rabbit hole where our fantasies of being best friends with Beyonce are replaced with images of shopping for Peter Pan collared dresses with Swift, but moving on (if ever so slightly) from the tired narrative that Swift is certifiably the worst might just make us all feel a little lighter and a little rosier, in general.
Speaking to Rosen, Swift says rather candidly:
There’s a spin on every single celebrity out there ... I know that one of my spins is: ‘Oh, Taylor’s heartbroken. Oh, Taylor fell in love and the guy broke her heart. She’s sad all the time, and lonely.’
I mean, they can say that all they want. Those are real feelings that every single person goes through. I think that it’s okay to be mad at someone who hurt you. This isn’t about, like, the pageantry of trying to seem like nothing affects you. I’m a songwriter. Everything affects me.
Alright, so this doesn't make you like Swift immediately. That's fine. She's sitting there in her apartment, complaining to a reporter about the way the media portrays her, when only a few months ago, she was willfully dangling her revenge on ex-boyfriend Harry Styles in front of viewers and the media at the MTV VMAs. But that's not all there is to see.
Here is where we sneak a peek at the woman who is quite literally ruling the music business right now — and not from a self-appointed, internet-approved King Bey sort of way, but in a very concrete dollars and cents sort of way. She is raking in the album sales and digital downloads like a bandit and packing out arenas as easily as she stirs her morning coffee.
In this quote alone, we can see the wheels turning. Swift knows the reason she's beloved (and a multi-billion dollar music industry golden goose) is because of her singer-songwriter style and her autobiographical lyrics. "Crowds scream for lots of different reasons. There’s a certain cute-boy scream. And there’s, like, a certain ‘I identify with this lyric, this lyric is my life’ scream. I guess that’s the scream that I hear in my concerts," she tells the mag.
Swift knows that attempting to write a song about something she hasn't experienced or isn't passionate about isn't going to sell because it's not going to elicit the emotional reaction from her fans that's made her unstoppable. Yes, her image in the press is "sad Taylor," but even the snarkiest writers know that Swift is reading these posts while cashing her giant checks made possible by music that she created without resorting to sexually suggestive lyrics and skimpy costumes. Her experience happens to be romantically-inclined, and she often paints herself as the wronged party, but don't we all (I'm talking men and women) when we've just had our hearts shattered into a thousand tiny pieces? Her ability to turn that recurring rush of emotions into fuel for her profession is why she's a titan of the music industry. So go head and throw your barbs, everyone.
In fact, Swift actually spends most of the printed pieces of the interview talking about her fears about losing her relevancy in the music industry or her backup plan for when the glitter guitars and poofy dresses stop bringing fans to her shows ("'Cool, I’ll just go in the studio and write songs for kids.' It’s looking like a good pension plan," she says.) She can't get away without talking about her romantic endeavors, because she's largely made them her bread and butter, but maintaining her status as a top artist seems to be her biggest goal.
So while we can tease her about dating a guy who's still in high school, or buying a house just to be near him prematurely, or for singing too emphatically along to songs at an awards show, or for not being able to take a Tina Fey joke, the "sad Taylor" narrative has officially lost its luster. If Swift knows that she'll eventually have to grow out of the glitter, perhaps we should accept that we'll have to grow out of hating her for doing the exact thing that's made her a monumental success.
The full interview is available in Nov. 25's issue of New York Magazine.