The Taylor Swift Saga Is The Newest Form Of Escapism. Why It’s A-OK If You Can’t Get Enough

The story of Taylor Swift is currently the world's most popular soap opera and, gosh darnit, we're lapping it up. But who gives a shit if it's frivolous - perhaps it's exactly the mindless distraction that we need.

The Taylor Swift Saga Is The Newest Form Of Escapism. Why It's A-OK If You Can't Get Enough

by Jess Commons |
Published on

The Saga of Taylor Swift is the story that keeps on giving.

As a soap opera plot it's got everything. For starters, there's the money and glamour. There's spurned lovers in the form of Calvin Harris, side plots (Katy Perry), deception, deceipt and he-said-she-said from the Kardashian-Wests, the 'corruption' of a virtuous innocent (Tom Hiddleston), the simpering sidekick (Selena Gomez), a dissenter in the ranks (Ryan Reynolds) a cast of characters that ooze beauty, youth and star power (the #squad). But, most importantly, this sordid tale of greed and power comes in daily installments thanks to conveniently placed photographers, strategically released Instagram pictures and social media posts from all involved.

It's addictive stuff.

And it's come at exactly the right time.

2016 has been a shit year. So far we've had (and this list is by no means complete) the Zika virus, terrorist attacks in (to name but a few countries) Brussels, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and France, a violent attempted coup in Turkey, further proof of the rich belittling the poor with the tax evasions uncovered by the Panama Papers leak and the BHS pension scandal, the death of cultural icons David Bowie, Victoria Wood, Prince and Alan Rickman, a rise in xenophobic and racially motivated attacks, the continuing need for Black Lives Matter, and, of course the utter shitshow that was Brexit and it's still-unfolding repercussions.

It's been a doozy of a year.

So. Is it any wonder we're so invested in The Story Of Taylor Swift? People have used media as an escapist tool for centuries. The revival of Gothic Literature in the late 1800s was a reaction to an evolving society, the 'death' of God post-Darwin and a cultural fear of degeneration. In the US, the rise of soap operas in the 1950s enjoyed success against the backdrop of globalisation and the threat of nuclear war amongst bored and anxious housewives (think Betty Draper) - how else to deal with the crushing mundanity of life than by tuning into a world where drama is high and lives are more glamourous than your own?

In recent years, the rise in reality TV has mirrored the spread of the internet and provides a safe, inane and mind-numbing distraction from the fact that in the digital age we are forced to absorb what is estimated to amount to a mindblowing 34 GB of information a day. Made In Chelsea and Love Island are times to finally switch our brains off.

Now, with Taylor Swift, reality TV has moved over into 'real' life. Arguably just as staged, the TS Saga is reality TV played out on social media rather than our TVs. It is escapist media in it's most current form. And it's working.

Obviously it's important to tune into the real things going on. In no way should a tale of celebrity excess prevent you from keeping yourself informed about the state of the world. The only way we're going to illicit change for the better is by staying educated, compassionate, active and involved.

But, if you find yourself several hours deep into the #KimExposedTaylorParty thread after you've looked at all that stuff - that's totally OK too. Switch your brain off for a second and have yourself a little bit of escapsim.

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

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Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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