On Monday night, she brought out Alanis Morrissette and Natalie Maines. There are rumors that her next show will include an appearance by either Joe Scarborough or Gary Coleman's ghost. Generally speaking, the invitees range from actual pals (read: people she has taken selfies with) to Joan Baez.
Taylor Swift, if you're reading this, let's just take a quick moment to clarify that you are talented and beautiful, but probably not friends with Joan Baez. Sorry. There are a number of questions with regard to this touring strategy, and whether or not you are really friends with Joan Baez is not one of them. Although, to what extent are you really "friends" with anyone you need to drag on a stage in order to generate headlines?
Modern friendship is all about documentation. As Emily Witt said in an essay for The New York Times Magazine, the stream of filtered photos "becomes ... an advertisement for friendship rather than an actual portrayal of it." For real people, that means carefully curated pictures of Alexa and Julie eating avocado toast after hot yoga. For celebrities, it means cataloging publicist-scheduled time with the intensity of an Italian mother building her collection of Lladró porcelain figurines.
Of course, Taylor Swift is The Master Friend Collector (patent pending on that as the title of a future horror film). There are more intense curation efforts donated to her Instagram account than the average special exhibition at The Met. Her feed is a lineup of women, pristinely assembled to feature each member of her coterie only once or twice (with the rare exception of her BEST best friend, Karlie Kloss).
In terms of her tour "friends," it initially was questionable why some of these guests were agreeing to participate in the show. "No one doubts why Taylor Swift asks Heidi Klum to walk the '1989' runway," Dayna Evans wrote for Gawker. "But it’s a mystery why Heidi Klum says yes." She cited Swift's motivation as a chance to capitalize on commercialized feminism. Yet, as the list of names has mounted in absurdity, a new strategy has emerged. Let's be real: who is profiting from an appearance by Matt LeBlanc?
It's as though Swift has realized she fell into yet another rut of tabloid labeling, and is haphazardly attempting to divert the narrative. Her gathering of friends began as a deliberate effort to distance herself from her designated role as serial dater. Now that she's better known for gathering up (mostly young, thin, white, 20-something) women, it's time to shift gears. Her complicated relationship with white feminism and that Madeline Albright quote she thinks is by Katie Couric is being deliberately disrupted by this confusing tour lineup.
With each guest, Swift is working to generate a new conversation. She's asserting her dominance in spite of the media poking at her questionable understanding of sisterhood, with a shift to famous-people-only inclusivity. By the end of the tour, after surprise appearances by Sherri Shepard and David Schwimmer, her brand-building efforts will be complete.
There are only two kinds of people in this world. Do you really want to be the one that isn't friends with Taylor Swift?
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