Commentary

Tay-Tay will make the big play this Super Bowl Sunday

February 6, 2024 7:00 am

Travis Kelce, #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs, embraces Taylor Swift after a 17-10 victory against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game at M&T Bank Stadium on January 28, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

“What a long, strange trip it’s been,” said that historic and influential musician, Jerry Garcia. It’s astonishing to me that I never fell victim to the evil spell the Grateful Dead cast on so many people over the last fifty years. I have a number of Dead Head friends myself. Lawyers, bankers, you know, the usual folks. 

Maybe, just maybe when Neil Young was making hits with songs like “Ohio,” when he sang, “Tin soldiers and Nixon coming…” all of the young voters within earshot would temporarily become deaf. But that’ s not how I remember Young’s moment on top when my older siblings were still at home. 

This 2020’s version of the uncool among us trying to demonize an idol of the cool kids’ club was inevitable. Seriously, though, it’s hard to demonize Taylor Swift. Historians will probably come up with other examples, but I can’t ever recall objectors to the outsize influence of a popular music star over our youth losing the battle so embarrassingly. The “conservative” bunch are mad at someone more pure, more well-behaved, and simply more good than any of them. And by anyone’s measure, including their own.

I realize how dumb that sounds, and trust me, I feel dumber just writing it out. But the above descriptive is where a good chunk of America is when asked that profoundly transformative question: “What do you think about Taylor and Travis?”

Complicating things, millions of young people all over the world were asked that question a few months ago and could only answer, “Who is Travis Kelce?” I will answer that quickly out of obligation. 

Kelce and the right

Kelce is an NFL Hall of Fame quality tight end who has won two Super Bowls, both “BT,” or Before Taylor. He has also cost this writer his Fantasy Football super bowl the last two seasons. He’s great early in the year but is becoming known for late-regular-season sabbaticals. 

Taylor Swift performs onstage for the opening night of “Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour” at State Farm Stadium on March 17, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. The city of Glendale, Arizona was ceremonially renamed to Swift City for March 17-18 in honor of The Eras Tour. (John Medina/Getty Images)

So, yes. I have issues with this lovely young couple. But I was too ashamed to admit it until I was asked to write about this all-too-crucial moment in rock and roll football history. Yes, these two boringly normal young people have impacted my life too. But I’m working through it.

Why does the political right hate Kelce? Because he got the COVID vaccination, and even tried to convince others to follow suit, on behalf of Pfizer. Much like the election denials, the right is denying that the vaccines have saved millions of lives and continue to do so. They deny the effectiveness of vaccines so hard, that measles is making a comeback. 

You read that correctly. The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, or MMR, has been preventing these diseases since it was developed in the late 1960’s, my whole life. But the influence of the anti-vax movement has reinvigorated the diseases, and much like my fantasy football failures, this too is all Kelce’s fault.   

According to them. 

But back to Super Bowl Sun-Tay. I knew all week I was writing about this and have bookmarked and hyperlinked my new Mac to enough Swift research that I’ve likely been added to some sort of watch list. It’s actually a little absurd for me to add to a body of content that resembles infinity, but my students say I might have a touch of FOMO. 

Swiftie

I wanted to find the dirt, the real reason to object to this too-good-to-be-true star. I think I found it in the article, “The Shady Side of Taylor Swift,” by Nataly Stayse and Nikki Swift. The part where she writes and records songs about her ex-boyfriends is disturbing. How could she? Well, all future boyfriends beware. Here’s her response to them: “Yeah, but you know, this is the third album that I’ve been doing this. So, they had fair warning at this point.”

Brutal. 

To listen to a podcast version of this column, go here

Honestly, I would have continued paying no attention to Swift as I had done exclusively until the spring of 2022. That was the first semester I taught a speech class where the students had to give a speech about a person who embodied their most admired values. One of my best students gave one of the best speeches, effectively convincing me to pay attention. I emailed her for comment yesterday about her idol’s intensified fame and she wrote: “Taylor Swift embodies the woman that I strive to be. While she struggles with different problems than I do, she’s genuine and graceful in the way she deals with life.”

Forgive me. 

Oh yea, before I forget the subliminal message of this column. Don’t forget to register and don’t forget to vote. 

I hate conspiring to sound like my late parents, and uh, Taylor Swift. 

So, again. Go vote. Go Chiefs. 

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Michael Leppert
Michael Leppert

Michael Leppert is an author, educator and a communication consultant in Indianapolis. He writes about government, politics and culture at MichaelLeppert.com.

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