The 2023 Golden Globes awards took place this past weekend, and although I never really watch these things live, I am a woman and thus biologically and socially wired to inhale red carpet photos and the celebrity gossip that inevitably springs out of award show season. This year’s Golden Globes were shockingly free of politics, and so the focus was really on the movies and the celebrities — as it should be.
That brings us to Taylor Swift, the twelve-time Grammy Award-winning country singer turned pop star. Although it seemed none of the celebs were too keen on Golden Globes host Jo Koy’s comedy routine, Swift’s reaction to a light-hearted jab made in her direction left many viewers with a bitter taste in their mouths.
“The big difference between the Golden Globes and the NFL? On the Golden Globes, we have fewer camera shots of Taylor Swift,” Koy jested.
The camera panned to Swift, who pursed her lips in disapproval and took a sip out of her Champagne glass.
As Megyn Kelly put it, Swift’s reaction to the joke was “annoying.” First of all, she wasn’t even Koy’s target — the NFL was. Second, you’ve got to be a pretty big baby not to be able to throw out a courtesy chuckle or even a tight-lipped smile at a very mild joke.
I doubt people would typically get that worked up over a minor moment at the Golden Globes, but the backlash against Swift is the culmination, I think, of her massive overexposure over the past year — and how much her thin-skinned narcissism has been on display in the process.
Swift has had an undeniably huge year. She made $1 billion on her Eras Tour, dropped the re-recorded version of her massive hit album 1989, capitalized on the viral success of her four-year-old song “Cruel Summer” by releasing it as a single, making it the biggest radio hit of her career, and reaped further cultural cache and profit by turning the Eras Tour into a movie.
I never really stood a chance against being a fan of Swift’s music. I was thirteen years old when I first heard “Teardrops on My Guitar” and had just turned fifteen when her aptly named single “Fifteen” first hit radio. In many ways, I felt like I was growing up alongside Swift as she spun tales of unrequited crushes, break-ups, bullies, friendship and love into song. However, at a certain point it seemed like — to borrow a line from the ten-minute version of “All Too Well” — I got older and Swift stayed the same age. Never mind the betrayal I felt when my once-hopeless romantic comrade referred to marriage as “that 1950s shit they want from me” on her newest album. Edgy!
Swift weeps in “Right Where You Left Me” — a song from Evermore, one of her more sonically and lyrically mature albums — about a “girl who got frozen” by a harsh break-up. In real life, Swift is the girl who got frozen at the age she got famous.
Swift has spent the past decade-plus burying her massive album sales, non-stop radio play and merchandise empire under her victim narrative. Initially, she painted herself as the doe-eyed prey for mostly older men who took advantage of her naivety. Now, as she tells it, she is the perpetual target of a sexist media, her father who didn’t want her to speak publicly about politics and risk alienating half of her fan base, conservatives, the “dads, Brads and Chads” who don’t want her to become the sole focus of their football broadcasts, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, the music industry insiders who point out her objectively weak vocals, the evil record executive who legally and rightfully purchased a record company and, along with it, Swift’s masters, a Netflix show that featured a “lazy, sexist joke” and, now, the Golden Globes host. Isn’t it all a bit exhausting, particularly as Swift flies around the world on her private jet, racking up several-thousand-dollar dinner tabs multiple times a week and donning custom designer gowns to award shows where she regularly leaves with armfuls of statues?
In December, Swift was rightfully awarded TIME’s coveted Person of the Year. No one matched her cultural dominance in 2023. Yet her interview for the magazine’s profile was just bizarre. It revealed Swift to be her own worst enemy; a self-indulgent, narcissistic millennial who simultaneously views herself as a girl boss Mastermind and a perpetual victim.
She described her revenge album, Reputation, as a “goth-punk moment of female rage at being gaslit by an entire social structure,” which sounds like something the 1975’s Matty Healy might say after a bottle or two of wine. Re-recording her albums, she says, was like ”collecting Horcruxes.
“I’m collecting Infinity Stones. Gandalf’s voice is in my head every time I put out a new one. For me, it is a movie now,” she said.
The worst part, though, was her willingness to devote a substantial portion of the interview to her new beau, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, whom she had only been dating for a few months at the time. It was an odd choice for someone so insistent that her success should not be linked to or defined by her romantic relationships. Of course, that was always a lie. She built her career on overindulging fans with the gritty details of her failed dating life. This is the same woman who put clues as to which exes her songs were about in the liner notes of her CDs and even blasted one of them for breaking up with her via phone call on Ellen DeGeneres’s TV program (and was conspicuously spotted with that same man’s ex-wife after their divorce). She even had to tell her fan base to avoid being too hatefulto her long-gone exes when she tacked some previously unreleased songs onto her album rerecords that included some nasty accusations about them. It was fun at first to deride the allegedly fake feminist Jake Gyllenhaal who wouldn’t tell Swift he loved her; looking back, it was just plain “Mean” to subject him to additional scrutiny more than a decade later.
Perhaps the world thought Swift had finally gained some self-awareness when she sang, “I’m the problem, it’s me” in her catchy tune “Anti-Hero.” Unfortunately, if the past year taught us anything, it’s that the joke was on us. Swift never believes she could be the problem.
Swift’s overexposure can only end one way; the public will increasingly grow weary of her antics, and once again, Swift will “disappear” for a year and “reemerge” with another album about how we’ve all wronged her. Can’t wait!