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Sunday, July 16, 2023

Taylor Swift & Gerard Way, Undeniably Iconic

I stopped obsessing over celebrities when I entered my teen years and began having real problems. And yet, I could not ignore these two.

I don’t consider myself too contradictory and I also don’t see loving both Taylor Swift and Gerard Way as contradictory. But because it is as though they are light and darkness, and apparent opposites (on the surface), it got me reflecting on exactly what is it, past that, that drew me to both and kept me around - especially considering how done I am with celebrity worship and mostly just vibe with what I can vibe with and move on. The thing is, though, that it’s not that they’re celebrities. It goes beyond that. They did have a significant impact on my life through their work, to a degree that not bringing it up feels almost like lying by omission.

But speaking about them definitely isn’t a chore to me. I’m more than happy to! I do love them and their work and I don’t care if that makes me look uncool or whatever. To me, they’re among the coolest people in the world, anyway. And you can usually catch me cheering on and adoring those I consider epic. And in this case, they are iconic too.

So what is it about them, really, that tied me to them? The list could go on and words might never make it justice, but here’s what’s standing out for me the most:

• They both entered the mainstream (or my range of awareness) with a music video in high school basically against bullying or mistreatment. You Belong With Me and I’m Not Okay. And I was hooked by that. You know how I feel about high school, right? I wasn’t bullied but I definitely wasn’t one of the popular kids and I despised the place because of the attitudes it promoted and rewarded. Even to this day, when I’m having a shitty day, my go-to comfort is reminding myself that at least I’m not in high school anymore. Imagine my frustration when I encounter people who are long out of it and still carrying a high school mentality.

• They both got major glow-ups. Look, I’m not calling anyone ugly at any point. But there is such a thing as being extraordinarily physically attractive and… not. And this was interesting to me as it had me wondering about how they took that and what it was like for them. I had people pestering me about my appearance for a long time (weight, acne, posture, clothes, etc.) until I turned it around to shut them up, but still don’t place a lot of value on it. And yet, I can’t help but grin about what a middle finger they’re giving to people by not only being astoundingly captivating but also for having tailored styles for themselves that suit them so perfectly.

• Their wardrobes are a trip. I’ve never been into expensive, luxury brands - which is what many assume someone is into when they say that they’re into fashion. But I genuinely enjoy the artistry in it. And their flavors, in particular, appeal to me and make me marvel. Although what I would personally go for differs, I appreciate the numerous spectacular looks that they serve.

• They are multi-talented/skilled but, most importantly (for me), they are exceptional writers. Especially with Taylor Swift, at the beginning of her stardom, it was like most people were overlooking this when taking jabs at her for not being The Best Ever™ at performing arts (singing, dancing, acting) and yet still being so successful. And I was there like, dude, her storytelling. You can’t even quite pinpoint what it is about it and could dismiss it as just another love song, but she was bringing back magic that a lot of us were missing. Still is. Gerard Way, I don’t even know where to start. But did you know that he’s behind The Umbrella Academy? They’re both killing it at shows now, with massive crowds, but I’ll call it: in my view, they’re both highly imaginative and empathic introverts, more intelligent than some would guess.

• They made songs that helped me through the roughest patches. The Black Parade (and Helena to an extent) helped me through my grieving process after my grandmother and caregiving uncles (one of them my godfather) died, one year after another, leaving me in an extremely confusing, chaotic, and overall dysfunctional environment without them while I was still too young. So it did hit me more than I let on. Not every word fits my situation, but more than enough do. And I Knew You Were Trouble helped me put my pieces back together after the relationship that took me from having my life together (enviable even) to being in shambles. Got involved with a drug addict out of excessive compassion. I don’t recommend it, one of the most self-absorbed fuckers I had the misfortune of falling in love with. After I radically sacrificed my well-being and damaged my relationships for him, he couldn’t be bothered to take a few minutes to let me vent the ONE time I asked for something (I avoided asking him for anything the whole time because “he was already going through too much”). But I digress. Point being, I deeply needed those songs.

• They carved their path into popularity. Taylor Swift started with country music when it was still quite looked down upon and Gerard Way with emo music while it was still quite underground. But both are so melodic that their music can be catchy to a majority regardless, categorized as a blend with pop. It fascinates me still because what they did doesn’t come across to me as very formulaic or cookie-cutter, but as that they did take their chances and it paid off. And they keep trying new and different things, while keeping their essence, and dare I say, staying true to themselves. So getting bored with sameness was never something that turned me away from them. It’s exciting to see what else they come up with!

• Their 2022 releases contained a keyword. Way to get my attention again. Throw the ‘anti-hero’ word in there and I’ll make it my business. But no joke, coincidentally, The Foundations of Decay and Anti-Hero came out in the same year. I hadn’t forgotten about them. But I was so caught up in my own stuff that I was no longer paying attention to much else. It came as a shock to me when these songs were dropped and it would be an understatement to say that I was ecstatic. For unbelievable reasons, they have a special place in my heart now and forever.

• Visualize them with enormous feather wings and it… fits. I’m agnostic, but if there is any truth in that we’re governed by some sort of divine order and that there are evolved souls sent to Earth on a mission to heal or even save it on grand scales, they would be two of them. I would bet and argue that. I don’t like to put anyone on a pedestal because I know that it can be asphyxiating and it is a burden to continually stand in there, so that is not what I’m doing. What I am saying is that they are so undescribably otherworldly with their work that we’re supremely fortunate to have them around. And for me, in particular, I can totally see them as winged warriors. White wings for Taylor Swift and black wings for Gerard Way, or combinations of colors more unique to each. I would call them King and Queen, but in contrast to them, those titles are better reserved for us, mere mortals.

Like I said, I could go on. And get cringier. But I’ll leave it at that. Don’t be too surprised if I keep posting about them and their work in the future, they’re more than welcome here, on my art site, and I still owe them tribute for all that they have meant to me.