We Are All Swifties Now

Laura J. Burns
Laura J. Burns writes books, writes for TV, and sometimes writes TV based on books and books based on TV. She will never, however, write a poem. She’s the managing editor of The Antagonist.

I took my daughter to Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour movie, but that’s just an excuse because I fully intended to see it anyway and my similarly middle-aged friend from college wanted to go while there were still crowds of people who would be singing and dancing in the theaters. So off we went. We were supposed to dress in an “era.” We didn’t know that. We were disappointments to my daughter.

Like Barbie, it’s an event movie. People dress up, people have fun, theaters sell out. Like Barbie, it’s a “women’s movie.” Make of that what you will. What I make of it, as always, is smash the fucking patriarchy and if you want to look pretty while doing so, have at it.

Anyway, I loved it. You should go see it, especially if you are a man, but also just because it’s the moment we are living in and the rest of world is beyond terrible at the moment. Go see a concert movie and watch the kids sing along. Here are my takeaways, in no particular order.

Taylor is a goddess.

I swear I wasn’t high. But the first shots of Taylor Swift, glittering and alone on stage at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, surrounded by 70,000 adoring fans, instantly made me think “this is how myths are born.” In some far-distant future, anyone viewing this image would assume TayTay was being worshipped. And she was.

The NFL bros are ridiculous.

My second thought, of course, was that this woman is ALONE. In front of a sold-out stadium all there just for her. Any football fan who thinks she’s the distraction to their precious game is just being silly. She’s bigger than any of their players and while the NFL obviously gets that, the butthurt men whining about the Swiftification of the sport are making asses of themselves. Be glad this goddess is smiling upon you. Be worried about when Travis Kelce fucks up off the field and she takes her fans and leaves you.

This movie is really fucking long.

It’s three hours long. Was Taylor taking lessons from Martin Scorsese? I’m not a lifelong Swiftie, there were at least four eras I didn’t need. That said, if I had shelled out $5000 to take my daughters to see this concert in person (in the nosebleed seats for that price), I would’ve been thrilled that it was a long show. Apparently they cut some songs from the movie, even. You gotta give it to Taylor, she delivers for the fans.

The production is beautiful.

All of it, breathtaking. Shout out to Sam Wrench, who directed this film. But the staging of the concert itself is incredible, and makes me wish stupid Ticketmaster hadn’t crapped out when I tried to get tickets the way I was supposed to at the beginning of it all. (My kids wouldn’t have gotten anything else for Christmas or Hanukkah that year. Or this year. Or probably next year.)

Joe Alwyn never stood a chance.

I don’t know much about Taylor Swift’s longest-term boyfriend, and I see very little reason to look him up now. By all accounts, he wasn’t comfortable with her fame, or being put in the spotlight of her fame, or something? When you see the scale of this tour, and think about what the past year has been like in terms of Taylormania, it becomes so clear that a shy boy could never have handled Taylor Swift, superstar. What was he thinking? Dude, if you can’t handle her at her Eras Tour, you don’t deserve her at her…something.

Travis Kelce seems thirsty. The two of them follow the Tom Brady/Gisele Bundchen formula of both being stars in their field already. I think he may be able to handle the fact that she’s far more famous than he ever will be. That’s the kind of man she needs.

Taylor Swift taps into women’s inner mean girl energy.

Remember when Taylor was feuding with Kim and Kanye? It’s funny/sad to think about now because it turns out Ye’s not just an asshole but rather a seriously mentally ill asshole. Anyway, we all know the “Reputation” era was/is a response to that feud. I didn’t see any obvious callbacks to the Kardashian-Wests although I’m SURE the Swifties have parsed it to death. Still, the whole set (the best in the film, IMO) was just such a mean girl romp. The entire time, my lizard brain kept whispering, “Taylor won. Holy shit, look how much Taylor won that fight.” I feel like I should be ashamed of myself, but I’m not. Reader, I am not.

Side note: a sold-out stadium yelling “oh, cause she’s DEAD” is some hilarious shit.

I didn’t like Folklore when it came out, and I still don’t.

You can’t make me.

Taylor uses her powers for good.

She gently pokes fun at toxic male stereotypes before she sings “The Man”. She includes a same-sex couple among the romantic partners dancing around her to a love song. She registers thousands of people to vote just by asking. She pays the crew on her tour really well. So far she seems like a benevolent goddess. Just, you know, one who will crush you with her songs if you wrong her.

Stop thinking of Taylor Swift as a young girl.

The main thing that this concert movie makes clear is that Taylor Swift is a goddamn adult. I come across a lot of people who still want to dismiss her as someone who always writes shallow songs about her boyfriends. She doesn’t, and hasn’t for a long time. There’s a tendency for people older than Taylor to think of her as a teenager, because she was one when she shot to stardom. And that makes her…you know, maybe 23 now? 25? Because we still all feel young, and people are bad at realizing how much time has passed once they themselves are adults. It’s that thing where you feel like it’s been 2 years, and then you see your friends with kids and their toddlers are graduating high school and you’re like WTF?

Taylor Swift is going to be 34 years old in December. What you see in this movie is a full grown woman at the height of her power. When she sings her high school songs, it’s with the winking laughter of someone revisiting her own naive adolescence. When she takes to the stage, as she often does, entirely on her own, you have to marvel at the sheer bravery of the woman. Can you imagine doing such a thing? Alone with a guitar or a piano or a mic, just you, to perform something you wrote in front of 70,000 people? Most of us would shrivel up the moment we saw that crowd. It’s just another night of work for Taylor.

And when you recall that she not only did all of this, made all of this music happen through her own talent, writing and performing, but also she made this movie and released it herself instead of going through the studios…well, it’s just another in a long string of badass business decisions by Taylor Swift. She’s smart, she’s the real deal, and she’s a grown up. Get over your dismissive attitude about her. You don’t have to like her music, but you do have to respect her multiple talents as much as you respect any other supernova of the music world.

Bow down, people. She deserves it.

Related Posts

‘You People’ Robbed Us All

I can’t believe I fell for watching You People. Well played, Netflix. You lured me in with a stellar cast and then proceeded to deliver almost 2 hours of Jonah Hill being that obnoxious insecure kid from Hebrew school who fetishized Black culture because he thought it would make him exotic and cool. If your social media hasn’t already been…
Read More

Barbie Really is Everything

This article was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn’t exist. After what seems like a year-long onslaught of PR–the most perfect, spot-on movie marketing campaign in memory–Barbie is finally in theaters. It’s the first film of the summer that feels like…
Read More