Taylor Swift's Fear Of Aging?
She ends up a cat lady and her imaginary disappointing children get thirteen cents in her will.
Singer Taylor Swift’s new Anti-Hero video shows her “nightmare scenarios and intrusive thoughts play out in real time.”
Like those of many 32-year-old women, these scenarios and thoughts appear to involve fear of aging.
We live in a youth obsessed culture where ageism is normalized and unaddressed. Older people are living reminders of the human condition, where everyone without exception is fated to decline and die. Society generally relegates the reality of aging to a series of negative stereotypes and avoids older people.
Wittingly or unwittingly, Swift’s “Midnights” nightmares involves many common ageist stereotype - loneliness, depression, fear of physical decline, abandonment, being unloved, ungrateful children, self-loathing, etc.
The setting for the video is a dimly-lit 1950s era house with flowered wallpaper, linoleum countertops, a pink bathroom sink, and a wall mounted rotary telephone (like the one my parents had!).
“I have this thing where I get older but just never wiser,” she sings.
Taylor steps on a scale and sighs. (This scene has been interpreted as “fat phobic” but it could just as easily be seen as fear of lost youth. She looks great but at 32 she weighs more than she did when she was 14.)
“I’ll stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror.”
She drinks too much.
Her lover leaves her because he’s tired of her scheming. The message on the blackboard is: “Everyone will betray you.”
Suddenly clumsy and elephantine size, she attempts to enter a dining room where sexy, attractive people are enjoying banter and dinner. She feels like the “monster on the hill.” They look at her with revulsion and flee, leaving her with an empty wine bottle.
The climax of the video is a nightmare about her funeral. Beside the mawkish scene of a casket smothered with pink and white carnations is a sad photo of the elder Taylor looking heavenward and surround by cats.
Her older son, Preston, wearing an ascot tie, reads the will with horror: “She’s laughing up at us from hell.”
His wife, Kendra, wearing a beaded dress from Swift’s 2009 Fearless video, says, “But who got the beach house?”
“She’s turning it into a f—-king cat sanctuary,” he says.
The younger son, Chad, wearing headphones around his neck and a garish shirt, stands and shouts, “I flew all the way here from Apizza!” (Massachusetts?)
Kendra grabs the will and reads that Taylor left the children “thirteen cents.” It’s not clear whether that’s cumulative or to split.
Suddenly, there is an explosion of authentic grief.
After determining there is no secret encoded message, they blame Chad, who is recording the funeral for his podcast (Life Comes At You Swiftly), for driving Taylor over the edge by trading on her name.
Chad responds: “Okay, I’m just going to say it. I think she killed her. Kendra was the last one with her. She didn’t fall off that balcony. She was pushed.”
The room explodes into a brawl.
Taylor’s dream is a nightmare that comes true for many women who do end up alone, poor or on the edge of poverty, with neglectful adult children who are busy with their own struggles. This fate is not likely to happen to Swift. Forbes says she is one of the richest women in the world, with $570 million in the bank.
Maybe Swift should consider tackling the subject of her nightmares by working to improve the plight of older women who face poverty and neglect. She could support efforts to improve elder housing, medical care, and aging.