This past Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs and The San Fransisco 49ers both punched their tickets to the premiere sporting event in all of North American sports, and all anyone seemed to care about was the kiss that Pro Bowl Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce shared with Taylor Swift on the field after the game. Suffice it to say that I am no “Swiftie”, as should be true of any self-respecting man of a certain age, and find all of this hubbub regarding her presence at Chiefs games over the past several months to be nothing more than a needless distraction, a mindless diversion into a land of tabloid gossip over which I decidedly could not give a shit. In fact, every time the camera pans over to that booth where Tay Tay and Brittany Mahommes are giving each other high-fives and breaking into spontaneous, pre-choreographed dance moves, I merely roll my eyes and secretly wish for Troy Aikman to go storming out of the broadcast booth and march angrily into the control room, demanding that the camera stay on him after touchdowns so that he can explain why the nickel coverage broke down in that scenario. “She’s a goddam singer,” he’d reproach demonstrably, “She doesn’t know the first thing about prevent defense.” (Even though she probably does). Either way, I just don’t care one way or another about her relationship with Travis Kelce. I just want to watch some damn football, for crying out loud.
My kids will tell you how precious little I know of Taylor Swift. I have, of course, heard a fairly wide sampling of her music. Some of it is good; some of it sucks. But of the material where she goes deep, she really goes deep. I am using her song “All Too Well” in a song lyric analysis elective I am currently teaching because the conceit of a scarf left in a drawer is the perfect representation of a love once new that has now grown old. Let’s just say that I’m not a fan, but I dig some of her stuff. Needless to say, I will not be pawning my last remaining earthly possessions, as many have been forced to do, in order to somehow procure tickets the next time she comes to Denver.
But my affinity, or lack thereof, for her musical talents has nothing to do with my apathetic disregard for her personal life. I don’t care about any celebrities’ romantic situation. That’s because I prefer to focus my energies on my own issues, and those close to me, thank you very much. Marc Manson, in his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F!#@, describes having only so many fucks to give and thus being sure to dole them out discriminately, and with that in mind, I simply don’t have space in my existence to be giving out fucks to the comings and going of people I don’t even know. Nothing personal, mind you. I just prefer to invest my emotional energies in the people and circumstances that really matter to me.
But don’t think this is a slam on Taylor Swift, because it is not. Far from it. It’s not her fault the cameras pan to her every time Travis Kelce drops a pass or scores a touchdown. It’s not her fault that the internet goes ballistic when she kisses her boyfriend after he just won a huge game. It’s not her fault that Kelce jersey sales spiked by 400% after rumours began circulating that the two were dating. She’s just living her life. And if anything, I respect her even more so for doing just that.
I may grimace at all of the fatuous fanfare that accompanies these two lovebirds wherever they go (most annoyingly during my beloved football broadcasts), but I know far better than to ascribe either of them as the source of my angst. If anything, they are living out their romance in a way that makes them comfortable. They have been judicious in what they let the public see, saving their more intimate gestures for their private lives. But they haven’t let the all-seeing, pervasive lens of the public eye daunt them from being themselves either. They have showed up for each other in ways that reflect their mutual respect and support, ideals that serve as the backbone of any healthy partnership. They have not asked that the spotlight be shone upon them, but they have lived with grace within the intrusive beams it casts.
The obvious culprit here lies within a media that peddles their relationship to increase viewership. After Nielsen ratings showed that the Jets-Chiefs game ranked higher than any other Sunday broadcast since the Super Bowl and that an estimated two million more women watched the Chiefs game on October 1st, of course the league and their broadcast partners were going to avail themselves of the Swift connection and highlight it throughout the airings of Chiefs’ games. But after all, aren’t they just giving us what we want?
Corporations like sporting leagues and television networks rely on ratings because ratings are what bring them money. Those ratings are, in reality, just a mirror of who we are and what we want to watch. They keep showing Taylor Swift in the suite because that is what gets viewers to turn in. So who really is to blame here? We are.
Our celebrity-obsessed media is a reflection of our celebrity-obsessed culture. They feed us Tay Tay and Kelce because we eat it up like pigs at a trough. But why? Why do we give our fucks to two people who clearly don’t need them, who really aren’t even aware of them? Why not invest that emotional energy in the people who matter most: yourself and the ones who love you? And then I can go back to watching a Super Bowl without Taylor Swift.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com