Taylor Swift has made a tidy career for herself doing what we all wish we could do: giving the gears to an ex in a scathing, public fashion.
OK, maybe we don’t all want to do this. But unlike your cheating jerk of an ex, numbers don’t lie. Swift’s latest incredibly catchy Facebook-status song, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” is sitting at #1 on the charts for a second consecutive week and, like many of her previous songs, is a pointed shot at an ex who had done her wrong. This kind of “social” success shows that Swift is clearly tapping into some collective, shared desire for revenge.
While Swift never identifies who are the targets of these take-downs, she doesn’t have to: her fans, who all seem to hold masters degrees in cryptology, quickly decode lyrics to identify the subjects. So, while everyone else will be bouncing along to the infectious chorus of “Never Ever” as the school year starts, apparently Jake Gyllenhaal will be changing the station. Burn, Prince of Persia!
Swift is in a unique, enviable position: Not only does she have the platform and songwriting chops to turn her personal beefs into hit songs —she’s also able to keep enough distance to maintain plausible deniability. Plus, with the exception of John Mayer (“Dear John”), none of these exes has the ability to respond on the same level. This is not to suggest that we aren’t all keen for Mayer to give us, “Look, You Are Not Totally Blameless Here (When Are You Picking Up Your Stuff?).”
I’m actually surprised that no one has ever used an awards acceptance speech as a platform to lay into an ex. Sure, it would be petty, and it’s not like as if Brad Pitt is going to win an Oscar one day and say, “I’d like to thank the Academy, my parents and in your face, Jennifer.” He’s a big celebrity. But are you telling me that somebody who just won the Oscar for makeup or whatever hasn’t been tempted to grab the mic and yell “Take a good look, Gary! This is what you said goodbye to!”? I badly want this to happen in my lifetime.
For the rest of us, our options for taking an ex down a peg are limited, and the consequences could be dire. They say living well is the best revenge, and I’m inclined to agree. Except if you’re Taylor Swift, in which case the best revenge is publicly burning your exes in the form of hit songs, and reaping millions for it. Burn on, T Swizzle. Burn on. Taylor Swift image via Big Machine Records.
If you have any stories about giving an ex comeuppance, tell us about it in the Comments!
Paul Beer is a Toronto writer, actor and comedian. You can follow him on Twitter @pauldanielbeer.