Taylor Swift's fall from grace: Why is it that we love to knock successful women?
Published 20/07/2016 | 02:30
Ah do you remember the collective online coo-ing that went on over those dreamy photographs of Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris, loved up on a tropical beach, entwined in each other's arms, her balancing playfully on one leg?
Recall how we sighed wistfully at their initials scrawled in the sand and smiled fondly as they cavorted on an inflatable swan. "They're just like us," we thought, beaming as we added our 'likes' to the thousands of others on TayCal's Instagram pages. "If I'd more money and a better body, that's who I'd be."
But what a difference a few months makes. Where once we swooned at her coastal shots with Calvin, the singer's seaside photos with new beau Tom Hiddleston make us scoff. Those loved up 4th of July photos? Pass the sick bag.
From once being the recipient of gushing fangirl praise - Fearne Cotton posted a selfie hailing Swift as 'perfect' in 2014, a sentiment shared by many - those backing her are now finding themselves trolled mercilessly. After 'Orange Is the New Black' star Ruby Rose posted online that the 'Bad Blood' singer was "one of the most amazing and kind people I know,", "Ugh. Another brainwashed T-Swift bestie," was one of the kinder responses.
The general consensus seems to be she's all but ruined her boyfriend's hopes of becoming the next Bond by coercing him into a string of cringy, attention-seeking photoshoots.
Yesterday Kim Kardashian's move to release footage on Snapchat, showing that Swift had some knowledge of Kanye's lyrics on 'Famous', a song she'd previously labelled as "offensive and derogatory". The pitchforks are well and truly out on social media with ire seeping into the conventional press, ready to decry the 26-year-old as a fake and phony. Exposed. Over.
In the past 24 hours there have been many, many gleeful observations on the 'downfall' of this successful singer and vitriolic tweets that should be accompanied with a 'rubbing hands together' emoji.
Forget the Euros and the Olympics, when it comes to sport in 2016, there's no activity we love more than toppling a female star. And, thanks to the attention-span zapping worlds of Twitter and Instagram, a celebrity can go from hero to zero in the time it takes to update your newsfeed.
Much of Swift's crime seems to be down to over-exposure. She's exemplary of the over-sharing world we live in and with all those reportable Instagram posts of late (a break-up, a new man, a new feud) we're simply left feeling like we've binged on Swift saturation.
But we can't blame it all on Insta-gluttony. This is after all, a uniquely female malaise. Would Tom Hanks or Bill Murphy or Bruce Springsteen inspire the same rage if they turned out to be less than perfect? It seems unlikely. A pedestal is much more shaky if you're a woman in the limelight.
Earlier this year Perez Hilton published a podcast asking 'Are YOU Over Jennifer Lawrence Too?' somehow suggesting that J-Law fatigue might be contagious, like Zika. Other media outlets agreed that January was the moment we reached 'peak Jennifer Lawrence'.
From being hailed as wonderfully goofy, stumbling on red carpets and not knowing her designer labels, all of a sudden the world seemed to have turned on the 'Hunger Games' actress.
Her crime? Telling off a reporter at the Golden Globes for being on his phone. All of a sudden the 25-year-old was 'arrogant' and too big for her boots. Over. Next please.
- Read more: Cheryl 'wasn't invited' to Liam Payne's sister's wedding as the bride wanted 'all eyes on her'
Cheryl Cole's national treasure crown slipped almost without warning. Suddenly finding herself 'too skinny' and a 'cradle snatcher' for dating One Direction's Liam Payne, 10 years her junior. Oscar winners Gwyneth Paltrow and Anne Hathaway are both now regulars on the 'most hated' lists. Katherine Heigl? "1000 times worse than Anne Hathaway" according to one internet critic.
In a culture that values women most for their looks, the conveyor belt is always moving faster than the men's when it comes to being the 'next big female star'. Female performers walk an impossible tightrope between feeding the media's fascination with them (via tweets and Instagram posts that keep them in the news) and risking career-ending over-exposure.
As Jennifer Aniston recently observed, women are held up to unachievable levels of perfection. But if that perfection is revealed to be fleeting, then suddenly they are 'un-masked', 'hypocrites' and frauds. They're judged on rules not of their making then blamed for portraying a sham.
Who can forget the lip-smacking delight with which it was reported that Nigella Lawson had caterers on call for Christmas and had, according to her ex-assistants, never made a mince pie? That wasn't even her kitchen!
"We tend to idealise women and insist that women are perfectly shaped, behaved and so on. The standards are impossible and then we have tantrums and feel critical and justified in our harshness when women fail," says Cork-based psychologist Sally O'Reilly.
"And for women, mistake is failure," she adds. "Men are not judged as harshly in any arena. It's part of our overall sexist way of approaching the genders, in my opinion, and all pervasive."
When women fight back and assert themselves, be it in the media or in the workplace, it's often labelled 'pushy' or 'difficult'.
A common theme in the baiting of female celebs seems to be the public's issue with women who are confident in their own abilities. It's okay to be dorky and screw up, but you shouldn't shout about your strengths or complain when things aren't as you'd like them.
- Read more: WATCH: Jennifer Lawrence loses it with a reporter for using his phone - 'You've got to live in the now, bro'
One of the quotes attributed to Gwynnie that provokes the most ire is her saying "I'm really f***ing good at my job." She is, and she has the fortune to prove it - but really, how dare she draw attention to the fact. Taylor is refusing to just let Kanye West have the final say, insisting that Kim's tape doesn't tell the full story.
J-Law, daring to wag her finger at a reporter as he tapped on his phone during her press conference, was arrogant, not assertive. And yet Russell Crowe can throw a phone at someone and still be deemed more sinned against than sinning. Bruce Willis telling a journalist he'd rather be driving away from him on the M1 - well - that's just Bruce being Bruce, he's one in a million, an artiste.
If you can tear yourself away from the schadenfreude that is Taylor's demise, you might want to ask just why so many of us find it so thrilling.
Could it be that all those envy-inducing photographs on that Insta-perfect world, just leave us less satisfied with our own mundane existences?
Rather than looking longingly at a slim starlet loved up on a beach, it's much nicer to see that idyll shattered.
But really, wouldn't it be time better spent if we could just log off the internet and concentrate in making our own lives better rather than delighting in seeing someone else's made worse?