The Assassination of Jake Gyllenhaal by the Girlboss Taylor Swift
Ruminating thoughts on the eve-eve of All Too Well: The Movie.
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We made it, folks. ‘Tis the damn season, write this down: Red (Taylor’s Version) is almost upon us. I will admit, I’m having a little too much fun turning on my fellow BLINK, Jake Gyllenhaal. With all the incriminating evidence stacked against him, including the highly-anticipated ten-minute version of All Too Well, there is no left-behind scarf that can save him now.
I have a very personal connection to Red, as I’m sure any swiftie/people who got their hearts broken by some ain’t shit rando they fell in love with has. I remember being really confused when I first heard I Knew You Were Trouble—as its borderline dubstep, crossover pop production definitely marked a new era for Swift’s sound, collaborating with the likes of Shellback and Max Martin. The guitar-heavy, ballad tracks are a more mature spin on classic Taylor, a stepping stone to what we’ve come to know as The New Taylor (the Old Taylor can’t come to the phone, she’s dead, etc. et al.)
Red is home to hits like 22, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, Begin Again, and the titular Red. It was the first Taylor Swift album I physically bought and the first album booklet I ever deciphered. I used to put Treacherous, I Almost Do, and Sad, Beautiful, Tragic in this little break-up trilogy—the hell did I know about any of those feelings she was singing about anyway, in 2012, at the age of fourteen? I like that the kids that have read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo associate The Lucky One with Evelyn and Celia. I like that the tracks sort of alternate between upbeat and really super fucking sad throughout the whole album, and I can’t even begin to fathom what those From The Vault tracks will be like.
Red is also emblematic of a very specific Tumblr aesthetic that will have lasted for another three or four years—the rolled-up t-shirts tucked into circle or A-line skirts, mustaches on fingers in photos with your girls, Starbucks, unironic bowler hats. She brought matte red lipstick onto the scene before Kylie turned it into a lip kit (I know they’ve been around forever, but as a fourteen-year-old at the time, it was major to me).
Taylor is no stranger to weaving in ultra-specific details from her personal life into her music—lyrically it’s what we’ve always expected of her as fans. Any swiftie worth their salt can name which high-profile boyfriend was the muse and/or target of any song pre-folklore. It’s part of her own folklore, the mystique behind a seemingly easily accessible persona. Taylor isn’t the type to dish on an episode of Fashion Police at the behest of some shadow PR government, she’ll put it in a song. And that’s just how she feels she needs to communicate, and she also knows it’ll sell records.
Yet nothing—not even Back to December, Forever and Always, Dear John, or Getaway Car—could ever have the lyrical and self-referential gravitas as All Too Well. It’s the song in every single one of my break-up playlists (yes, I have those) and it was written about a relationship that lasted three months in 2010. That’s how fucking good she is. I think thanks to her, and this song specifically, those adolescent emotions that linger even in these supposedly more mature periods of our lives are allowed to exist. It’s an almost scandalous honesty. It’s juvenile, nineteen-year-old daydreaming, sure, but it’s earnest and sincere. I think the song means a lot to me, as it does to many others because there’s an unspoken universality to the pain she was honouring in the song. We don’t honour these three-month whirlwinds enough. If it changes you, it changes you, doesn’t matter how long something lasts. The image I attached above was from a Thanksgiving Swift shared with the Gyllenhaal’s, and All Too Well doesn’t stray from those autumnal sensibilities. It’s a song about rumination, but towards the end, she snaps out of it, even if she still does remember everything all too well.
Even now, almost a decade after Red’s debut, Swift is still playing up her self-referential, Dear Diary sensibilities. In the trailer for the All Too Well short film, she not only revealed that she will be starring, writing, and directing the joint, but she’s tapped Stranger Things’ Sadie Sink and White Boy of the Month Lifetime Achievement Award Runner-Up behind Logan Lerman himself, Dylan O’Brien, as her two leads. Sink and O’Brien are 19 and 30 respectively, their age difference echoing Swift and Gyllenhaal’s (20 and 29 at the time of their thing).
Nothing comes of rewarding literal millionaires for any semblance of self-awareness in their art; Swift has benefitted enough from the brand of buzzword-loaded white feminism she (often quietly) promotes. Her real-estate portfolio alone is valued at $81 million. She has made her money telling stories like the ones in Red in the way that she has. It’s unfortunate the kind of press she gets sometimes, but I don’t think anyone represents “there’s no such thing as bad press” better than Taylor Swift. What we remember now isn’t just Jake Gyllenhaal and that fucking scarf, it’s that Taylor had the audacity to tell us all about it, in exactly the way she wanted and needed to.
I guess it’s part of her taking back her narrative as well as taking back her own intellectual property; Scooter Braun will not see a cent, but neither will Jake Gyllenhaal. She said herself that Red resembled an all-over-the-place heartbroken person, that it intends to capture every micro-emotion born out of that heartbreak. She’s looking at her entire body of work with enough distance and time that adds an extra level of nuance and introspection after whatever part of her birthed this record healed. But if I had a nickel for every time I alone would clown the artist formerly known as Mr. Music from John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch for his crimes against Swiftmanity, I would have a lot of nickels.
Gyllenhaal is currently dating a 22-year-old model. Yes, even I have aged out of the Gyllenhaal bracket. It’s concerning to me than at the time of their highly publicized relationship, that their age difference was a marker of Swift’s immaturity, and not Gyllenhaal’s. And that her perspective and feelings were so easily dismissed as infantile or juvenile (I’ve used similar sentiments above, lest we forget) simply because an older guy figured out he was “just not feeling it.” And then 1989 flips it, with Swift’s highly publicized, very brief romance with Thanos’ Brother (I refuse to call that man by his name).
Revisiting Red with Taylor’s Version as a communal experience will be really interesting, thinking back on how—at least, as fans—our attitudes have shifted towards how we consume celebrity gossip and other miscellanea. Right now, I’m really looking forward to which songs I can project onto Kendall and Stewy from Succession.
What are you looking forward to the most from Red (Taylor’s Version)? Aside from, you know, Jake Gyllenhaal in witness protection?
I’m Moving To The Country, Gonna Eat A Lot of Peaches
Speaking of Dylan O’Brien, he guest-starred in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm a few weeks ago and it made me very happy. I love Curb the same way I love 30 Rock—I will get canceled immediately for it. I think this season is more about Larry David adjusting to a new world, and not just a post-COVID one. A world where entertainment is coming close to moving on without him. (Like it ever will. He’s Larry fucking David).
In Curb, Dylan O’Brien plays a fictionalized version of himself that’s in talks to star in Netflix’s Young Larry, a show based on Larry David’s earlier, pre-Seinfeld career. This Dylan loves dogs, has not mentioned the New York Mets in any religious way, is kind of a Hollywood dickhole, and is in a band called ‘Dylan O’Brien and the Entrails’. I think they play some kind of pseudo-alt rock that even I think is too loud.
In the musical number introducing O’Brien, he repeatedly sings the lyrics: “I’m moving to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches” in what I assume is his best impression of any indie singer ever. O’Brien continues to be a thorn in Larry David’s side, as the older comedian now has to court O’Brien into doing his show after offending him at the concert.
It’s like watching moviekidd826 eke out of O’Brien’s post-Maze Runner career. He’s goofy, he’s silly, but he is 100% committed to the bit. You can’t really take moviekidd826 out of the boy or the moviekidd826. If you know you know.
Thanks to this wonderful piece by Allison Wilmore on Ben Affleck’s celebrity, I was not only reminded of the phoenix back tattoo towel at the beach pap shot, but the fact that this infamous image came from the set of Triple Frontier. Yes, that Triple Frontier. Somewhere out of frame whilst Affleck was lamenting by the sea, Oscar Isaac was probably up to no good and Pedro Pascal was definitely tripping over his own feet.
Tar-Man Origins: Wolverine
This week on Franchi$ed, brought to you by The Breadcrumbs Collective, we continue on our journey through the loosely strung together Of The Dead franchise with Dan O’Bannon’s Return of the Living Dead. It is a ridiculous film that got even more ridiculous sequels. Happy belated Halloween from all of us (me) here at Hyperfixate!
Check out the episode here:
That’s all for this week! See you whenever!