Taylor Swift Talks Death Threats & Vicious Celebrity Culture: “I’m Not Gonna Let Them Make Me Have A Meltdown”
Taylor Swift opens up about the men who want to kill her and celebrities being “pushed to the brink of a public meltdown” in a revealing new Esquire interview.
She explains that her dating habits became a way for the media to knock her down a peg, because the press needs to find some kind of problem with every star they cover. Swift says, “I think with every celebrity story there has to be a ‘Yeah, but…’ Take Beyoncé: She’s incredibly talented, gorgeous, perfect role model for girls, empowering women all over the world. Yeah, but… let’s try to pick at her marriage. I think that every celebrity has that. And predominantly women, unfortunately.”
“I would date someone, figure out we weren’t compatible or figure out we didn’t work out, and then we’d break up,” says Swift. “That seems like a very normal thing for a young 20-something to do, and that is my biggest scandal.”
The star goes on to say, “I think it’s healthy for everyone to go a few years without dating, just because you need to get to know who you are. And I’ve done more thinking and examining and figuring out how to cope with things on my own than I would have if I had been focusing on someone else’s emotions and someone else’s schedule. It’s been really good.”
Asked whether she feels like her fame is ever a “runaway train,” Swift replies, “No. The only thing I can’t control is the spin in the press. And so if I know I can’t control that, I have to let it go.”
“In some ways, though, you can control it,” she clarifies. “I really didn’t like the whole serial-dater thing. I thought it was a really sexist angle on my life. And so I just stopped dating people, because it meant a lot to me to set the record straight — that I do not need some guy around in order to get inspiration, in order to make a great record, in order to live my life, in order to feel okay about myself. And I wanted to show my fans the same thing.”
Swift says that her background in the Nashville scene and country music taught her to work. “You hear stories about these artists who show up four hours late to a photo shoot, and in Nashville that doesn’t happen,” she says. “In Nashville, if you go four hours late to a photo shoot, everyone leaves. In Nashville, if you don’t care about radio and being kind to the people who are being good to you… It’s a symbiotic relationship, and if you don’t take care of it, then they won’t take care of you.”
The star has some real issues with the way cynicism governs media coverage of celebrities. “That’s what I don’t like about celebrity culture and the obsession with it, and the takedown culture that we seem to be in,” explains Swift. “You have celebrities who are pushed to the brink of a public meltdown, and so the public thinks that every person in the public eye has dirty secrets that they’re keeping, or isn’t what they seem, or is masking it and faking sincerity, faking authenticity, faking being surprised at award shows when you win a Grammy.”
She continues, “I’m not gonna let them make me have a meltdown. But, I think, as a songwriter you lose your edge if you find a way to protect yourself from everything they’re going to say about you. You lose touch with what made you vulnerable enough to connect with people in your songwriting. And that’s not something I wanna do. So it’s all about walking a tightrope between not being so fragile and breakable that they can level you with one blow and being raw enough to feel it and write about it when you feel it.”
When the reporter comments on how Swift brought security to their interview, the singer explains that it’s a necessary evil, saying she hasn’t even been able to drive by herself without bodyguards for six years. “They have to be in a car behind me,” she explains. “Because just the sheer number of men we have in a file who have showed up at my house, showed up at my mom’s house, threatened to either kill me, kidnap me, or marry me. This is the strange and sad part of my life that I try not to think about. I try to be lighthearted about it, because I don’t ever want to be scared. I don’t want to be walking down the street scared. And when I have security, I don’t have to be scared.”
Swift says she tries to avoid the public when she has bad days. “I try really hard not to take bad days out on other people,” she tells Esquire. “Because I will get asked for an autograph, and I will get asked for a picture, and there will be someone with their cell phone filming me at a restaurant. If I’m not in the mood for that, I just kind of stay in. And that’s fine. Those days don’t happen very often. I try really hard to keep it light. Joy, enthusiasm, excitement—those are sort of my chief attributes.”
Does she feel “trapped” by her reputation as a sweet, innocent star? “No, because I’m realistic about the fact that millions of people don’t have time in their day to maintain a complex profile of who I am,” says Swift. “They’re busy with their work and their kids and their husband or their boyfriend and their friends.” She adds, “They only have time to come up with about two or three adjectives to describe people in the public eye. And that’s okay. As long as those three adjectives aren’t train wreck, mess, terrible. I figure eventually, if you hang around long enough, people will see all sides of you.”
What do you think about what Swift has to say?