This is a story about rumours, innuendo and a doomed romance.
In other words, this is a story about a Taylor Swift song. It is also a story about how the police should assign a security detail to Jake Gyllenhaal’s mansion and flank the actor should he step out for a Starbucks in a red scarf.
As I’ve said before, it’s Taylor Swift’s world and we are just living in it. Her army of fans, the Swifties, is a cult made up of Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple wannabes that sift through her prodigious artistry to look for clues as to who has wronged Dear Leader.
T-Swizzle has elevated the breakup song into a rallying cry for vengeance.
Her latest, a 10-minute recording of 2012 hit “All Too Well,” arrived the other day. It was soon accompanied by a 14-minute film, written and directed by Swift, starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien. As films go, this was no “Gone With the Wind.”
But, somewhere, Jake Gyllenhaal’s publicist was suddenly in the downdraft, fielding 50 calls per hour from the media, including queries such as, “Does Jake have any comment on Taylor’s new video?” and “Does Jakey-Jake regret dating Tay-Tay?”
This doomed romance reportedly unspooled in late 2010. The two were a couple for three months. I have a squeeze bottle of mustard in my fridge that has lasted longer. No matter. “All Too Well,” from Taylor’s “Red” album, was like Stonehenge to the Swifties. They scrutinized lyrics, connected dots, found Easter eggs, triangulated dates and places, and concluded the cad who wronged Dear Leader was Gyllenhaal, a rumour that has animated the Swiftieverse since the first iPad was released.
The remade “All Too Well” has only splashed kerosene on this gossip fire.
New lyrics include: “You, who charmed my dad with self-effacing jokes / Sipping coffee like you were on a late night show / But then he watched me watch the front door all night, willing you to come / And he said, ‘It’s supposed to be fun … turning 21.’”
And: “I was never good at telling jokes, but the punchline goes / ‘I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age.’”
All righty. I watched the new video and short film with an open mind. I really wanted to understand why, as Slate put it this week, “Taylor Swift Fans Seem Ready to Commit Homicide on Jake Gyllenhaal.”
But I don’t get this anti-Jake hate. If this song is really about him — and Taylor has never confirmed it is — what exactly did he do that’s so worthy of Swiftian scorn?
Based on the film and video, he didn’t cheat on her. He was not abusive. He did not cover his ears as she was demoing an experimental track, even though that would be perfectly reasonable. The biggest problem unfolds at a dinner table, when she tries to hold his hand, but he’s too busy gabbing with friends. This leads to a squabble in the kitchen, as she scrubs dishes and acts like this aborted hand-holding incident was tantamount to first degree murder. Was she 21 at the time or 12?
Apparently, Gyllenhaal — if this silly song is about him — also still has a red scarf Taylor left at his sister’s house. That would be Maggie Gyllenhaal, who addressed this conspiracy with Andy Cohen four years ago: “You know, I never understood why everybody asked me about this scarf. What is this? I am in the dark about the scarf.”
Me too, Maggie. But the whereabouts of this knitted fashion accessory has taken on a life of its own this week. The legendary Dionne Warwick tweeted this on Monday: “If that young man has Taylor’s scarf he should return it … It does not belong to you. Box it up and I will pay the cost of postage, Jake.”
Ms. Warwick, will you pay the shipping and handling if I buy a new brain?
The one I have right now can’t take much more of this.
You know who I feel really sorry for in this ridiculous relitigation of Jake Gyllenhaal? Joe Alwyn, Taylor’s current boyfriend. That poor bastard must be tiptoeing through life on tenterhooks. Imagine being in a relationship and knowing, deep in your heart, that if things go sideways you will be shamed and cyberbullied due to a future pop song.
I don’t want any trouble with the Swifties. But there is something seriously wrong with Dear Leader. If I were a conspiracist, I might conclude Swift has deliberately got into bad relationships just so she had breakup material for future albums.
Forget an NDA, Joe. You need an NSA — “No Song Agreement.”
In the short film and video, Taylor Swift comes across as a needy and insecure maniac who can’t bridge reality and fantasy. That’s why Jake Gyllenhaal should be thanking God he escaped, even if he’s now Public Enemy No. 1 in the Swiftieverse.
He inherited a scarf and dodged a bullet.
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