Taylor Swift is the teenage tattoo of A-List celebrities: Every so often we remember that she’s still there, and we don’t quite know what to do with her.
The pop star has been more or less MIA since last summer, when Kim Kardashian took to Snapchat to out Swift as a stack of snake emojis hiding inside a patriotic onesie.
Taylor Swift—an incredibly calculating celeb who nonetheless managed to market herself as the naïve girl next door—might be a snake, but she’s our snake. In a galaxy of eye-roll-eliciting Katy Perrys and rage-inducing Rob Kardashians, Swift always stood out as a celebrity who could generate an infinite amount of relatively inoffensive content about herself.
From her rotating cast of Ken doll boyfriends to her famous squad, Swift consistently made headlines. Love her or hate her, but show some freaking gratitude for a woman who would go on a double date with her friend who is currently dating her ex-boyfriend just to feed us clickbait-hungry monsters.
When Swift was exposed and went into hiding, the entertainment blogosphere lost one of its brightest stars. Swift elegantly toed the line between A-list celebrity and overexposure—a line that Kim Kardashian promptly pushed her over. So it’s no surprise that the media-adept star reacted by doing a total-180, transforming from “girl who gets papp’d every day” to “mythical nocturnal creature who may or may not subsist on the burnt offerings of Ed Sheeran.”
Keeping a low profile is one thing, but shipping yourself out of your own apartment is quite another.
Swift-Watch 2017 reached a new nadir earlier this week, when word spread that the star had been carried out of her Tribeca building in a piece of luggage. Stories like “Taylor Swift Was Definitely Not Being Carted Around in a Giant Suitcase” quickly debunked the rumors, but, still, if you have to clarify that Taylor Swift is not cramming herself into a trunk every time she wants to go to SoulCycle, clearly something is up. So how, over the course of one year, did Taylor Swift go from one of the biggest pop stars in the world to a potential human carry-on? What has this woman been up to? And why does Ed Sheeran always seem to make everything worse?
The Crab Walk
At this point, the story of Taylor Swift’s Snapchat outing is the stuff of celebrity lore (more specifically, North West’s bedtime story). After Swift fell back on her traditional victim narrative, complaining that Kanye West released a vulgar rap about her without her permission, Kim published footage of Kanye calling Swift from the studio. Swift’s protestations held up about as well as a street-cast model on an hours-long Yeezy runway, and the pop singer was quickly denounced as a calculating fake. But we didn’t understand the full weight of Kim’s public image assault until a few weeks later, when Swift was caught crab-walking out of her gym to avoid the paparazzi. I’m not saying that Kim Kardashian hypes herself up with a few lines of Pixy Stix every night and watches this video of Taylor Swift walking sideways, but I’m not not saying that.
The VMAs are a site of trauma for anyone who hates bad fashion and Canadian tuxedos. But the annual awards show is particularly triggering for Taylor Swift, whose years-long feud with Kanye West began on that very stage. So when the VMAs rolled around so quickly after Swift’s Snapchat fiasco, the star turned away from her walk-in closet full of sequined mini dresses and opted to fulfill her civic duty instead. Yes, Taylor Swift, image-crafter extraordinaire, managed to avoid a high-profile awards show appearance by claiming that she had jury duty the next day. Knowing that that was a “dog ate my homework”-level excuse, Swift obviously had to go the extra mile and actually show up to jury duty. While a Nashville judge eventually dismissed Swift as a potential juror in the case, the singer still managed to befriend a few lucky Tennesseans—including a local resident who got Swift to sign her copy of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. You truly cannot make this shit up.
There are suspiciously paparazzi-friendly dates, there are fake Hollywood couples, and then there’s this. Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston announced their brand partnership when they swapped spit for the photogs on a bunch of rocks—as one does. It was perfect synergy from the very start: Tom Hiddleston wanted to become James Bond, and Taylor Swift likes white boys. The “human relationship” proceeded in a manner characteristic of typical human relationships. They ate dinner together, held hands, and traveled the world. Swift even let Hiddleston pick out an interpersonal relationship party favor from her closet of affirmational tank tops. Unfortunately, Hiddleston didn’t appear to “heart T.S.” enough to stand by her side once her stock started plummeting—either that, or Swift realized that having such an artificial-seeming relationship was making her look even less authentic. For a deliberately manufactured relationship, Hiddleswift was pretty ill-timed. Tom Hiddleston was not Taylor Swift’s most famous boyfriend, nor was he the pettiest. He wasn’t Harry Styles or a Kennedy. He was, however, the most willing to plant his ass on a bunch of cold pointy rocks and make out for some pictures. R.I.P., Hiddleswift: gone but, thanks to an army of dedicated paparazzi, never forgotten.
Taylor Swift was Deadpool for Halloween, I guess.
Despite not having the balls to endorse Hillary Clinton, self-described feminist Taylor Swift urged her 102 million social media followers to “Go out and VOTE.” It worked out really well. Thanks a lot, Taylor.
Though technically released in December, Swift’s Zayn Malik duet truly made waves when it was featured in Fifty Shades Darker, a movie about having the least kinky BDSM sex imaginable in Seattle. In January, Malik and Swift co-starred in a music video for the track. Someone on Wikipedia has written a better synopsis of this music video than I ever could: “The video starts with Zayn emerging from his car on a rainy night as the paparazzi take photos. As Zayn enters a hotel he starts singing his part and as the chorus begins he reaches the elevator with red lights and then pans over to another elevator with Swift singing her part and proceeds to her hotel room. Zayn in his room sings the chorus and Swift pours some champagne in a glass. The rest of the video is Zayn and Swift throwing objects like glasses, lamps, pillows across their rooms in anger.”
Super Bowl Bonanza
Swift performed her first and quite possibly last concert of the year in February, telling the audience that, “By coming to this show tonight, you are attending 100 percent of this year’s tour dates.”
The Ed Sheeran Rendezvous
In May, news broke that Taylor Swift was months-deep into a relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn. While anyone who’s familiar with Swift knows that up-and-coming Brits are her personal heroin, the real surprise was that the singer actually pulled off a secret romance. For months, Swift and Alwyn made like Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and weren’t seen. A wig was reportedly involved. By the time news leaked, Swift was allegedly already looking at houses in the U.K. (although, to be fair, buying real estate in her new boyfriends’ neighborhoods is what Taylor Swift does between following back on Instagram and going on a first date).
Taylor Swift will never miss a chance to screw over her enemies, even if she has to orchestrate her vengeance through a WiFi hotspot that she set up inside her giant suitcase. Taylor Swift came here to do many things—make out with the hottest guys, put more fiddles in pop music, name her cat after Olivia Benson—but she did not come here to play. Katy Perry learned this lesson the hard way in June, when Swift quietly released her entire musical catalog on Spotify the same night that Perry dropped her new album. Perry’s abysmal “Witness”—which featured a diss track about TayTay—just couldn’t compete with Swift’s entire oeuvre. It was a rough day for Katy Perry, and a great day for 15-year-olds with Spotify premium.
America the Beautiful
While something has obviously been off in Taylor-world this year, nothing cemented this fact quite like Swift’s refusal to throw her annual Fourth of July party. No one event has ever encapsulated the American dream quite like Swift’s mandatory summer squad meet-ups: a mosh pit of blonde beauties with flat stomachs enjoying water sports and baking Pinterest-worthy goodies in red, white, and blue bikinis. This year, instead of heading for Swift’s Rhode Island estate, the squad was left to their own devices. Most notably, model Karlie Kloss celebrated the Fourth by posing for an Instagram with Kendall Jenner—Kim Kardashian’s half-sister. Kudos to Kloss for finding the only other celebrity in the world who probably can’t name a Destiny’s Child song (and has been accused of a far more egregious act of cultural appropriation). Kloss’ decision to spend Swift’s favorite holiday with a Kardashian was read as an insult, leading to the possible conclusion that Kloss and Swift are no longer besties. Adding overblown insult to imagined injury, Lorde was later caught insinuating that she and Swift are no longer co-squad members.
And then there was only… Martha Hunt.