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Celebrity and Youth

Mediated Audiences, Fame Aspirations, and Identity Formation

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Edited By Spring-Serenity Duvall

Celebrity and Youth: Mediated Audiences, Fame Aspirations, and Identity Formation makes an examination of contemporary celebrity culture with an emphasis on how young celebrities are manufactured, how fan communities are cultivated, and how young audiences consume and aspire to fame. This book foregrounds considerations of diversity within celebrity and fan cultures, and takes an international perspective on the production of stardom. Chapters include interviews with professional athletes in the United States about their experiences with stardom after coming out as gay, and interviews with young people in Europe about their consumption of celebrity and aspirations of achieving fame via social media. Other chapters include interviews with young Canadian women that illuminate the potential influence of famous feminists on audience political engagement, and critical analysis of media narratives about race, happiness, cultural appropriation, and popular feminisms. The current anthology brings together scholarship from Canada, the United States, Spain, and Portugal to demonstrate the pervasive reach of global celebrity, as well as the commonality of youth experiences with celebrity in diverse cultural settings.

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Chapter 9: Getting “Out of the Woods” and Coming “Clean”: Narrating Happiness in the Music and Celebrity of Taylor Swift (Maghan Molloy Jackson)

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CHAPTER NINE

Getting “Out of the Woods” and Coming “Clean”

Narrating Happiness in the Music and Celebrity of Taylor Swift

MAGHAN MOLLOY JACKSON



Introduction

In the opening line from the lead single off of her 2008 album Fearless, Taylor Swift alludes to both the traditional conception of marriage as an economic exchange between men and a more modern understanding of a young woman’s personal empowerment and ability to make her own decisions. In the accompanying video, which at this writing had over 400 million hits on YouTube, a modern-day meeting between Swift and the attractive young man toward whom the song is directed with apostrophes wherein she addresses an absent “you” moves back and forth with a flashback in which Swift is singing from a castle tower dressed in ornate, seventeenth-century costume (Swift, 2008). It’s an elaborate set piece that employs visual and lyrical references from fairy tales like Rapunzel and Cinderella, from Pride and Prejudice, and most notably from Romeo and Juliet. However, we are assured through the lyrics of the song that this “love story” will end as a traditional fairy tale should: with that all-important white dress and the concomitant “happily ever after.”

In what is one of the earliest mediated narrations of happiness that is directed particularly at young girls, the idea is wedded—often literally—to the beginning of a heterosexual romantic relationship, when the virtuous young heroine...

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