Home Blog Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce: How is this threatening to anyone? – The Washington Post

Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce: How is this threatening to anyone? – The Washington Post

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From what I can tell — and if you have evidence otherwise, don’t spoil this for the rest of us — Travis Kelce seems like a nice young man. Affable, authentic, capable of delivering a joke as well as being the good-natured butt of one, etc., etc. What he does not seem like, however, is a person who exists in the same stratosphere as Taylor Swift.
He is the Kansas City Chiefs tight end who still plays second fiddle to teammate Patrick Mahomes in television commercials for State Farm insurance. She is one of the most famous women on the planet.
And so, when news came out this week that the pair was in the “super early” stages of “quietly hanging out,” it took a little unpacking to figure out why a certain cohort was responding to this news like the Grammy-winning, richer-than-Croesus beauty was dragging their boy down.
“Taylor is turning him into a beta male,” huffed one self-described “Alpha Male” on X, which used to be Twitter. His evidence: that Kelce had participated in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-sponsored vaccine campaign, encouraging people to get updated coronavirus boosters. “Is this what happens when you date Taylor Swift?” posted conservative pundit Tomi Lahren, reacting to the same ad, while another onetime fan declared: “Taylor Swift got him. She is a nasty woman.”
Kelce’s onetime fans further speculated that Swift was responsible for Kelce’s appearance in a Bud Light commercial, a beer brand under conservative fire for featuring a transgender woman in one of its ads. “Travis Kelce is definitely going to make the transition,” speculated one fan, though it was not clear whether he meant that dating Taylor Swift would cause Kelce to transition to female, or to woke, or to — you know what, I sincerely have no idea.
Downstream of whatever Taylor and Travis have going on, we’re witnessing the uneasy beginnings of a diplomatic relationship between two different nations of American pop culture. The viewership of an NFL game perhaps shares little overlap with the audience of the Eras. But Swift’s fans, for the most part, approached reports of the merger with curiosity and diligent homework: “Everything Swifties need to know about Travis Kelce,” offered one Girls’ Life article, containing such helpful talking points as, “He has won the Super Bowl twice.” There was a small amount of nobody deserves Tay Tay, but this was delivered magnanimously. After Swift was spotted cheering in a suite at one of Kelce’s games, a Swiftie chirped on X, “It’s nice that Taylor Swift is visiting her stadiums while they turn into mojo dojo casa houses for the football season.”
But the logic from the most super-alpha-fragile-istic fringe of the football side seemed to be that Kelce — by dint of winning Super Bowls, getting paid to drink beer and dating a hottie so beloved that People magazine just dedicated an entire 90-page special edition to photos of her, so monumental that USA Today just announced it would be hiring a reporter just to cover her — was perhaps on his way to becoming an effeminate woman.
In what appears to be a coincidence, the Federalist magazine also decided to drag Swift this month, not via a series of unhinged X posts but in a long, high-minded cultural essay headlined “Taylor Swift’s popularity is a sign of societal decline.”
The author had several arguments, but his overarching one was that Swift’s music was “defined by self-obsession rather than introspection.” He hated that she wrote about breakups and heartbreak, he hated that her songs so often focused on how things made her feel, he sneered at the “aggrieved” and “unmarried” women who might identify with Swift’s lyrics. He compared her music, unfavorably, to Paul McCartney’s “Eleanor Rigby,” praising the latter for the way it “[put] itself in the shoes of others.”
There are many reasons it’s foolish to compare anyone to the Beatles, but I’ll skip writing my own long essay and just briefly note the irony that the Federalist’s critic finds it tiresome to listen to a woman describe how she feels but illuminating to listen to how a man describing how he imagines a woman feeling. (Meanwhile, McCartney released a song a few years ago that he said was inspired by Swift’s tender relationship with her fans. He remains a good one.)
But back to Kelce. There’s an interesting case study here in what kind of celebrity power couples are acceptable and what kind are not, in what makes redpilled fans decide that a beautiful woman is not a “Stacy” but just a self-obsessed bee-yotch.
Swift’s politics undoubtedly have something to do with it. In 2016, white supremacists were holding up Swift as an “Aryan Goddess,” but that was before Swift started speaking out for gun control, gay rights and feminism, and calling President Donald Trump’s regime an “autocracy.” This month she encouraged her Instagram followers to register to vote, and the nonpartisan site she directed them to saw an immediate 1,000 percent spike in visitors. A woman like that is supposed to stick to dating softbois and poets (paging Timothée Chalamet), not rizzing up a superjock and screaming him on at the game.
Swift’s power undoubtedly has something to do with it. To those lamenting the relationship, Swift’s wealth and fame do not appear to be assets but rather threats, and signs that what she needs is a relationship that will take her down a peg or two. The same internet commenter who noted that Swift was turning Kelce into a “beta male” also commented that he had previously thought that “Travis was the alpha male Taylor Swift needed.” But instead, there was Kelce on the podcast he hosts with his brother, sweetly talking about how he had made Swift a “friendship bracelet” with his phone number on it, hoping to give it to her when she was in town for a concert. He wasn’t able to get through her security phalanx to arrange a drop-off, and they ended up meeting in person later, under different circumstances.
Making! A! Friendship! Bracelet! What was he even thinking, preemptively friend-zoning himself with a homemade craft? Might as well boil a pot of tea and get a cat.
The Taylor Swift backlash is a heightened illustration of the tightrope many famous women find themselves walking. She should be beautiful but not know it, have a lovely voice but not a loud opinion. Her feelings, if she has them, should be kept to herself or left to the masses to speculate over and imbue with meaning. She might be a worldwide influencer, but once she is in a relationship, it is she who should be influenced.

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