People don’t become famous — they’re born famous.
Sure, fleeting moments of celebrity can be thrown on someone like Ken Bone or the Ken Bone of 2010, whoever that was, but to make it past the so-called 15 Minutes of Fame, you must possess a natural charisma and presence that not everyone has. It’s one of the reasons why Donald Trump will probably be the runner-up in the upcoming presidential election, which is further than anyone expected him to go. Say what you will about that human toilet-flushing soundboard, he commands every room he’s in. That’s because he honestly believes he’s the most famous person in every room he’s in.
Taylor Swift would never admit it — she’s far too polite maintaining her I’m one of you persona that keeps her fans feeling so connected– but I bet she feels the same way. She must, to make it as far as she has. With every album, Swift’s grown more into the mega-star she was pre-destined to be, from the awkward country of her self-titled debut — which turns ten years old, today by the way — to the throwback pop blowout that is 1989 — nearly 10 million copies sold, and counting.
On Saturday night, Swift was, by far, the most famous person in a crowd of 80,000 people. That’s because we, myself included, were at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX, for Swift’s only concert of 2016. The show came packaged with tickets to watch Formula 1 United States Grand Prix (and Usher and the Roots on Sunday), but for every one fan of fast cars, there were four teenage girls wearing “Taylor Swift for President” shirts. Personally, I wouldn’t be caught dead in one of those; I wore my Swift/Sonic Youth mashup, instead.
The groundswell of support for Swift started early, around 2 PM when fans started to line up for prime spots on the lawn or pit, and didn’t quit until 8:45, when the show ended after a 15-song set. There was no talk of Kim and Kanye, of slithering snakes, of Katy Perry, of Calvin Harris, of Tim Hiddleston — the most “controversial” moment of the night was the concert starting a half-hour late.
Swift was all business, and her business is romantic empowerment through friendship. I half-expected her to publicly proclaim her support of Hillary Clinton, something she’s been criticized for not having done yet, until I remembered that’s not what Swift does. She’s too much of a people pleaser to potentially upset a fraction of her audience, much of which is still too young to vote. Swift introduced “Fifteen” by noting that if she could “pick one year of my life where I learned the most lessons, I would still say… it was when I was 15.” That’s when she met her best friend, Abigail, and learned that “I’ve found time can heal most anything / And you just might find who you’re supposed to be / I didn’t know who I was supposed to be at fifteen.” Swift’s songs are about how politics don’t rule the world; love — for yourself, for your friends, for your partner — does. It’s corny, but it’s effective. Just ask the seven-year-old girl to my left who was openly weeping during “Sparks Fly.”
Or the 29-year-old man. (It me.)