Of course, the Instagrammed pictures of frolicking in the sea en masse, or shooting down water slides, or sitting on the porch enfolded in Tom Hiddleston’s arms should make us all really envy being on July 4 holiday with Taylor Swift and her buddies.
In fact, it looked terrifying, a beautifully filtered advert for lifelong anonymity. Sure, everyone’s smiling in the pictures, but the silent screaming/questions remain:
• What if, as part of the group, she doesn’t leap on your back when larking about in the sea? Does this mean you’re lower on the totem pole than Ruby Rose?
• What if, as part of the group, she insists you are more of a star-and-stripes onesie, compared to a simple flag draped around the body, kind of person? Is Taylor Swift saying you’re fat?
• Why are you on the outer fringes of every group shot? Her childhood friends have better billing than you.
• What if she gives the stars and stripes sweater to Blake Lively, not you? It would look better on you.
• You have a partner. Why were you not chosen for the “couples” shot on the porch?
• What if, despite every atom of your body telling you not to, you lose it and shout at Cara Delevingne, “You’re young, rich, hot. Why do you look so miserable all the time?” And when silence greets your outburst, go for broke with: “And how do you pronounce your surname?”
Squad goals for any sane person, after looking at all the shots of cultish jollity of the great T-Swift Independence Day starry getaway: solitude.
The picture featuring Swift and all her friends in the sea off Rhode Island, arms linked and looking wildly happy, would only be a modicum more frightening with a shark fin entering the shot.
But then, even that poor shark would have probably had to sign a confidentiality agreement and photo release forms. Exhausted, it would have headed back to deeper waters. Jaws never had it this tough, ffs.
It’s no surprise that all these photographs of prancing and posing and HAVING A REALLY GREAT TIME were snapped by a professional. Everything about downtime with Swift looks as rigorously curated and organized as a pop concert—or Swift’s Instagram account to which the professionally taken pictures were then uploaded.
E Online posited that us plebs observing these shenanigans would be suffering from “some serious FOMO.”
On the contrary, we were just fine in our sad, unSwiftian July 4 lives. We were just hoping and praying that poor Ryan Reynolds, photographed with Blake Lively in that really weird porch couples shot involving Swift, Hiddleston, and Swift’s childhood friend Britany LaManna and her husband Ben, was airlifted out of there after the picture was taken.
The internet saw in his glazed, stony expression sheer desperation, rather than romance and sweet, sweet fun, as intended.
The last July 4, Swift had a similarly starry line-up—and similar fun and games, all beautifully photographed. And this year too, there she is, center stage-arms aloft as fireworks explode beautifully behind her and all her buddies clad in variations of the stars and stripes in cardigans.
Not all the photographs worked out so well. Hiddleston was clearly shy about the proudly Brit-pale Hiddlebod, entombing it in a white wifebeater. His clothing bore a love heart and a “TS.” (There is much speculation that his relationship with T-Swift is some elaborate joke on the media.)
In some shots, notably in one where she’s talking/menacing her official July 4 photographer, T-Swift looks less pop princess and more Ramona Singer.
But generally, it’s all whooping-and-hollering-and-fun. You look at this self-loving, narcissistic shriekfest, and think:
• Say you wanted a moment to yourself. What’s the politic way to tell Taylor Swift and posse to shut the hell up.
• Say you wanted to not feature in an artfully composed beach shot.
• Say you turned to Taylor Swift and said, “I’m not just here as your token black/lesbian friend, right?”
• Say you wanted to participate in a leisure activity not sanctioned by Taylor Swift.
• Say you wanted to do something as a solo, free-thinking individual—like read a book, or go to a café for a quiet drink. Or spend time with another friend, who isn’t Taylor Swift?
• Say you wanted to sneak off and listen to some Katy Perry.
To which the answer is brutally simple: instant social death. Ejection from the princess palace. Rejection. No joining Taylor on stage at one of her concerts. Consider your brand extension, your multi-platform possibilities, terminated.
One false move, and your red-white-and-blue swimsuit—which was forced into your hands on arrival by a harried-looking intern living on Wheaties and sheer panic in Swift’s basement—will be ceremonially burned.
Delevingne will disdainfully call you an Uber. Gigi Hadid will make an L sign over her forehead as you depart, then do a handstand—pointlessly. Banishment. No trains for five hours. As you sit on the platform, you see you’ve been erased from her Instagram.
The devotion that Swift commands and demands, visually at least, elicits the very opposite of FOMO. It looks like Mean Girls Gone Wild, and is the second best advertisement for living the life of a hermit if aspiring to emulate the genius of Emily Dickinson doesn’t do it for you.
It’s the poor photographer trailing after this band of tousle-haired lens-flies that one feels sorry for. Imagine toiling in the wake of this sonic boom of banality, trying to make such relentless “fun” look spontaneous. If you see a hipster photographer, weeping alone at a Rhode Island bar, buy him a gin and tonic.
Even if this shamelessly self-promotional photo-fest seems irksome, we do support the purpose and all-round brilliance of Taylor Swift’s cat.