Look, I don’t think Taylor Swift is the worst person ever. So if you’re going to come at me with “leave Taylor alone!” I want you to keep in mind that I don’t dislike her. She just annoys me. I’m not crazy about her “music”, but then I’m not thirteen years old, so I don’t think I’m supposed to enjoy it. And her “acting” is um…well awful. There’s no way around that. But on the whole—she’s not stumbling drunk out of clubs, sans panties, at 3 AM. She’s not drinking and driving. If I had a daughter, I wouldn’t mind if she liked/admired Taylor Swift. There are certainly worse influences in the world.
That said…what about the Taylor that fucks around with John “I commit disgusting sex acts” Mayer? The Taylor that dabbled with Jake G, a man not only too old for her but WAY too experienced for her infantile self? I’m just saying there’s another side to Taylor Swift. A side that is darker, kinkier, weirder than anything she willingly shows. And that is where my annoyance with her comes from. Taylor is twenty-one. She’s an adult with her own money and an independent life. Yet she keeps selling me that she’s the same wide-eyed seventeen-year-old that arrived on the country music scene a few years ago. That “oh my god ME???” thing she does when she wins awards drives me nuts. Humility is all well and good but Taylor, when you have the #1 album in the country with a chart-topping single, you know you’re winning that music award. Don’t act so surprised because we know you’re not. Just be grateful and move along.
So I don’t buy her “I’m such a good girl” act anymore. I think she is a nice girl, yes. But she’s also a shrewd entertainer settling in for the long haul. She plays the press, her fans, her interviewers. She’s selling us a product and that product is “Taylor Swift, Permanent Child”. This is different from a Forever Child (term courtesy of Duana), who can’t help her inescapable youthfulness. The Forever Child is frozen in time in spite of attempts to grow up (see also: Britney Spears, Selena Gomez). A Permanent Child is someone who actively tries to remain childish. A willing self-infantilizer. And lately, this is all I see from Taylor Swift. And it bothers me. Until Taylor grows up, I can’t be on board with her.
Which brings us to her new Teen Vogue cover feature. I think the fact that she’s on TEEN Vogue and not VOGUE Vogue kind of says it all, doesn’t it? It’s not like Anna Wintour is against featuring youth, after all. In the last year she’s had Blake Lively twice, Rihanna and Lady Gaga, and Kristen Stewart—who is also twenty-one but might as well be thirty-five when compared to Taylor—on the cover. So if Taylor is talking to Vogue and they, in all their youth-loving frenzy, opt to put her on the Teen edition…well. As for these photos, they blow chunks. The photoshoot apparently happened in 1992 and was styled by Sears. And Taylor looks a bit…crazy. Like maybe her inner grown up is busting out at the seams and she’s hanging on to the Permanent Child by a thread. Let it happen, Taylor. Let it happen.
I’m a Shia apologist. First and foremost, I apologize for him. I think he’s talented, and I think if he can hold himself together well enough, he’ll be The Star to emerge from his generation. He’s already got his pick of projects and can front both an effects-laden action franchise and an arty festival piece. I thought his casting in Indiana Jones: WHY GOD WHY was appropriate—in forty years Shia is Cranky Ford. But holding himself together is a tall order for Shia. He really does not have the personality for this business. He will never do anything other than put his foot in it in an interview. (Whenever I see him embarking on a press tour, I have immediate sympathy for his poor, poor publicist. I hope he sends his publicist lavish fruit baskets at the conclusion of each tour.) As such, he makes everything a lot harder than it has to be.
Here’s my handy guide for How Shia LaBeouf Can Navigate Hollywood Without Sacrificing His Inner Self:
#1 While everyone is entitled to privacy, regardless of their job, realize that people are generally assholes who are out to ruin your night. You’re well within your rights to refuse to pose for photos when you’re on your own time, but be polite when doing so. Getting angry and upset does nothing except make you angry and upset. It’s not “conforming” to try and deal with people in a respectful manner. If you want to be treated like that, you’re going to have to treat people that way, too. And while gaining respect through fear might be cool NOW, at twenty-five, it’s going to look lame by thirty-five. Just something to think about as you get older.
#2 Obviously you can’t hold your liquor so please stop drinking in public. If you go out with your buddies, impose a two-drink maximum and for the love of god, don’t drive. If you want to get tanked and punch a wall or your friend’s face, do so in the privacy of your own home and save your publicist from that particular 2 AM phone call.
#3 Optional, but maybe you should consider therapy?
Have you read Shia’s new Details cover feature? It’s delightful. He’s a trainwreck. But he’s a self-aware trainwreck who knows his faults and failings, his vices and weaknesses. If he can balance that awareness with his temper, which is pretty bad, he should be okay in the long run. A big thing working in his favor is that Shia is unfailingly professional on sets, treating crew, handlers, bosses, and co-stars with kindness and respect. He might be a nightmare after wrapping, but while filming he is not a problem. And he’s a trooper—he fucked up his hand in that car accident and kept working, took twenty stitches in his eye during Transformers 2 and like he said, he went back to the set and they kept going like nothing happened. Not many of his peers roll like that. Fights, arrests, drunkenness—whatever he’s done the night before, he’s always back on set first thing in the morning ready to go. People put up with a lot when they know they can count on you and to date, despite all his wildness, Shia hasn’t kept anyone waiting. But he definitely needs to get a handle on his temper. Or his drinking. Preferably both.
As for the confirmation that he did, indeed, diddle Megan Fox on the set of Transformers (and Isabel Lucas during Transformers 2)—are you really surprised? That’s back when Fake Face Fox still resembled an actual human, and not a vinyl sex doll. What I want to know about isn’t his tryst with his plasticene co-star, it’s what happened between then and now. Because I heard during TF2 press that Shia couldn’t stand to be around Fox. Which, given that they really did mess around in 2006 yet Fake Face ended up marrying David Silver, so I wonder if, at the time, Shia felt slighted and got his feelings hurt. But now, with some maturity and hindsight working for him, he has put that whole bizness in its proper box and can speak reasonably, even affectionately, of Fake Face. Though I doubt she and David Silver are going to appreciate having the affair thrown in their (fake) faces at this point. So…well played, Shia?