Taylor Swift and the power of archetype
entering my post-ErasTour era
Last weekend I told you that I was on my way to see Taylor Swift perform in Minneapolis as part of the Midwest leg of her now-iconic Eras Tour, and I promised to download the experience to you when it was all said and done.
Well I’m back home now — and have been for nearly a week — but it’s still not all said and done. Not only am I continuing to process the emotional spectrum of the event itself, but my mind has been ceaselessly churning out surprisingly deep thoughts on the entire phenomenon on a daily basis.
For proof, here’s a screenshot of my text to my editor at Penguin Random House this week:
I’m not actually going to do it (mostly because I don’t want my entire public personality to revolve around Taylor Swift), but I might just write an op-ed if I can scrape together the time and brain cells. Because, frankly, there is much to be said about the archetypal nature of the “Taylor Swift Cultural Moment” we are having in this country (also, arguably, around the world.)
Attending the Eras Tour is Actually, no. One does not “attend” the Eras Tour. One is immersed in a communal experience in a stadium of 70,000 people actively participating, on both individual and collective levels, in something vastly outside of themselves. It’s the reason this writer compares it to going to Mass. And why this writer says the church should take some notes. And why therapists all over the country are having to learn Swiftese in order to work with their clients.
Swift’s lyricism is unparalleled; the older she gets, the truer that statement becomes. She is best known for what she jokes are “aggressively autobiographical” songs, but in her two pandemic records (the peak of her lyrical prowess, so far) she proved that she is equally adept at weaving stories that are not her own. But a lot of artists can be described the same way. What is the X factor here?
When I first sought to publish books, the first thing I learned (read: was hammered over the head with by publishers, editors, agents, writing coaches, etc.) was that the reader actually cares very little about the author. I know that sounds harsh, but think about it. The reader cares mostly about themself, as is human nature, and chooses books according to what serves their own interest. Which is why, although every new author wants to write a memoir, manuscripts for memoirs are almost never accepted by publishers — with few, mostly celebrity, exceptions.
What I’m saying is that the Taylor Swift phenomenon is not really about Taylor Swift at all.