There’s a great piece out this week over at The Daily Caller by Betsi Fores titled “Can Taylor Swift and Tim Tebow just date already?” that got me thinking about the public personas of each respective member of this potential “SwiftBow” (or “TayTim”) relationship mash-up.
As Fores points out, both Taylor and Tim have been presented to the nation–by themselves, their handlers, and most of the media–as good old-fashioned, All-American, “wholesome” young kids who have talent to burn.
(Although, if we’re being honest here, never look directly into the throwing motion of Tebow when he’s attempting to complete a pass. You won’t be able to enjoy the sport as much ever again.)
But Tebow’s inability to hit moving targets outside of the Nintendo game Duck Hunt isn’t what we’re talking about here. It’s his thoroughly genuine, respectful, hard-working, and God-honoring personal character that interests us. From what any of us can tell, the guy really lives the life he preaches. He’s never claimed the “perfection” many cynics in the realm of sports journalism unfairly lay at his feet, but he has gone above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to handling himself with class and dignity in the public limelight.
He’s a manly man, playing a man’s game, with the heart and demeanor of kindly, as old Reverend Eric Camden from 7th Heaven would say.
And then there’s our girl T Swizzle.
Fores describes Swift as follows:
She stole our hearts as a wide-eyed country girl just trying to find love in this crazy, messed-up world, complete with a mousy face and blonde curled locks, strumming simple guitar riffs while simultaneously bucking bales of hay and riding a wild stallion across a quintessential American prairie. Or so we assume.
She defines innocence in a popular culture where characters like Lindsay Lohan plead guilty to inarguable car crashes and where mothers who force-feed their daughter Mountain Dew, not so subtly renamed “go-go juice,” are rewarded with reality TV shows.
She doesn’t wear short skirts, she wears T-shirts. She’s not the cheer captain, she’s up in the bleachers. She’s fearless. She’s annoyingly wholesome and 100 percent All-American. She’s the kind of girl that mothers want their sons to date and the kind of wholesome crooner that won’t cause Nana to cringe when her songs come on the radio.
While I generally agree with this assessment, where I begin to diverge in my opinion is the post-established persona phase of Swift’s career. Namely, the past two years or so.
She was presented to America as the cute girl next door and we accepted that. No reason not to. But since the initial honeymoon-with-your-adoring-public phase, Swift has become precisely the “serial dater” we read about in Fores’s piece.
Now, I can totally understand some flirty, awkward trips to the Jamba Juice in Beverly Hills with dopey boy band lead singers and that kid from those popular vampire movies who evidently trained at the Matthew McConaughey school of shirtless acting. And there’s plenty of fodder in a romantic trip to Noodles & Company with any number of the Jonas Brothers for kitschy Top 40 songs that Tweens will be only too happy to post the lyrics to on their Facebook walls.
But Jake Gyllenhaal? John Mayer? This John Mayer!
I wouldn’t trust the man in this photo above with any human female on the planet. No one enters the Mayer Air Space and comes back untainted. And does anyone really think Mr. Gyllenhaal is merely interested in a peck on the cheek under the bleachers after the varsity football game on a Friday night?
Listen, I’m not here to judge anyone else’s private behavior. And I’m not here to call Swift a harlot. I’m simply making important (and I would add “moral”) distinctions between someone like my boy Tebow and apparently “everyone’s girl” T-Swift. Tebow is a good guy who, up till now, has remained true to the convictions we all associate with his image and brand.
Swift–bless her heart–is someone who seems to be searching for an identity. And that’s totally fine, especially given her age. Personally, I’m happy that she has for many years presented herself publicly as a “good” girl. You look around the morally barren wasteland that is the entertainment industry and it’s utterly refreshing to find any semblance of wholesomeness. It’s a good thing to be wholesome, and if you hold sway over millions of young women it’s a good thing to present being wholesome as something to be desired.
Who knows: maybe these two crazy kids should date? Perhaps T. T. is just what T. S. needs?
Either way, it’s important to always remember that when it comes to life in the public square, we can’t possibly know other peoples’ hearts or their true intentions. Their words and deeds–especially their deeds–are what matter to society, no matter what a team of publicists and marketing gurus want us to believe about their clients.