The Taylor Swift ex-boyfriend industrial complex has acquired another cog. Word has it Swift gave her latest partner, Scottish electro-pop producer Calvin Harris, the boot after seeing photos of him leaving a cheap Thai massage parlor. Harris has a masseuse on staff, a source told RadarOnline, so gossip blogs surmised that his reasons for seeking professional hands elsewhere could only be sexual—and Swift, it’s alleged, could not abide.
Whether or not Harris actually paid for a sex act (this business, for all we know, could stick to PG massage services) might be beside the point—when your brand is worth hundreds of millions, maybe you can’t afford to let your associates hang around unsavory locales where you wouldn’t be photographed yourself.
This tidy conclusion to the Swift-Harris affair is a prize addition to the singer’s robust breakup repertoire. Once again, Swift is perceived as both the injured party and the one to kick the bum out, granting her a claim on both victimhood and independent single-ladydom. She was wronged by an unworthy man-child; she recognized that she wasn’t getting what she deserved; she took responsibility for her own happiness; she did the hard work of resolving the situation; and she’s all the stronger for it. From Kanye West to the “Shake It Off” meanies, underminers and spiteful haters and, above all, loser boyfriends have made the Swift brand what it is. The Harris narrative is so replicably Tay-Swiftian that to imagine her ever cheating on a partner or taking part in an amicable break-up or ending up in a long-term, stable relationship is to imagine another celebrity altogether.
We’ve got to think that Harris knew what he was in for when she wrote his name in that blank space six months ago. Dating Swift in 2015 is like dating Tucker Max in 2003, or Carrie Bradshaw in HBO’s New York City circa 1999—the high had better be worth the entire world knowing your most annoying habits and worst romantic misdemeanors. Was it, for Harris?
Lucky for him, the celebrity PR spin machine whirls both ways. While Swift maintains her well-preened brand, Harris gets to strike a righteous pose against haters of his own and reap the munificent good vibes of anyone who thinks Swift overreacted. And when her next album comes out—hoo, boy! The people will talk, and the people will remember that red-headed DJ Taylor Swift once dated.