Taylor Swift has just been appointed Global Welcome Ambassador for New York City.
In case you were wondering, here are some things that New Yorkers don't have the time or patience for: local trains, delivery minimums, degenerates who don't pick up after their dogs, and Taylor Swift becoming the Global Welcome Ambassador for New York City. Firstly, there's the offensive notion that New York needs an ad campaign to boost tourism. This isn't Albany, people—you'd have to pay an adventure-seeking foreigner NOT to see Broadway's Aladdin and then take an iPad selfie with the Naked Cowboy afterwards. Secondly, what's with choosing Swift, a 24-year-old born in Pennsylvania and bred in Nashville, to represent NYC?
In addition to moving into a $20 million dollar Tribeca apartment in March, Swift's only other credential for this prestigious position (that I literally just heard of right now) is “Welcome to New York,” a bouncy tune off of her just released album, 1989. Calling “Welcome to New York” a fitting homage to the city that never sleeps is like saying that The Cheetah Girls was a realistic tribute to the fastest felines in the animal kingdom.
The track features winning lines like “Welcome to New York/It's a new soundtrack I could dance to this beat." Not since Justin Bieber thought that inebriated drag racing was a totally chill thing to do in downtown Miami has one star so severely misunderstood a city's standard social mores. Sure, Swift is a Pennsylvanian at heart—but you don't have to be born and raised in one of the toughest neighborhoods in NYC to understand that dancing down the street in Manhattan is simply not done (though I guess it's no greater a faux pas than dating a ginger or sorta stalking a Kennedy).
Swift's take on NYC is so silly and saccharine, it’s like the only sources of info she consulted on the historic metropolis were mottos from different souvenir tote bags on sale at Penn Station and excerpts from your grandma's emails asking about "life in the big apple." And because Taylor Swift is a fake pop star invented by wedding gown emporiums and Tiger Beat to sell heteronormative fantasies and life size posters of Harry Styles, she naturally can't make it through one song about NYC without folding the city into her all-consuming boyfriend narrative.
She croons, "Like any great love, it keeps you guessing/Like any real love, it's ever-changing/Like any true love, it drives you crazy." Because if Styles won't put a ring on it, at least $20 million dollars will always be able to buy New York's constant companionship.
Naturally, Swift's first official act as ambassador quickly proved that the songstress is about as New York as politely sharing a slice of deep dish pizza with a stranger in a Red Sox jersey. In other words, not very.
In a series of short videos for NYC GO, Swift shared a number of her questionable thoughts on this strange, exciting island she recently discovered off of the Eastern Atlantic Coast. In one segment, she stresses how important a good latte is—and "no one does it better than New York." New York cannot be personified; it is not an autonomous entity. And if it were, it would not be a high-end latte machine.
In another video, Swift expounds upon how the city's electric energy was an integral muse for her "writing"—a young E.B. White, this one. But by far the most eye-roll inducing clip is the one in which this fresh off the private jet "New Yorker" gives us some essential NYC definitions—bodega, Houston Street, NoHo, SoHo, and stoop. Because not only is the 24-year-old Taylor Swift richer and more successful than you—she also thinks you're stupid enough not to know what stoop means.
With her totally un-New York airs, guileless smile, and boundless enthusiasm, the Swift that NYC GO showcases is more like a bridge and tunnel partier looking for a good time in the big city than a cynical Manhattanite. But, unlike any well behaved visitor to our fair island, Swift seems intent on staying over interminably—complaining about her ex-boyfriends, showing us pictures of her cats, and trying to explain over and over again what a bodega is.
Of course, this new ad campaign is a totally crass PR move consisting of a reductive collection of platitudes that masks the diversity of New York City, its checkered history, its multi-layered problems and paradoxes, and its uncertain future. But in addition to all of that, it's also really irritating—and not just by New Yorker standards.