Relationships

An Interview With a 13-Year-Old Whose Anti–Jake Gyllenhaal Protest Earrings Have Swept Her Middle School

Earrings feature Jake Gyllenhaal's face crossed out.
Jewelry enemy No. 1 Courtesy of Caroline

Jake Gyllenhaal scorn has been sweeping the nation ever since the rerelease of a Taylor Swift album with a song, “All Too Well,” that is widely believed to be about her brief relationship with the actor. I have previously asserted that this is nothing to worry about—it’s mostly a silly game—but that was before I saw the anti-Gyllenhaal earrings that a Pennsylvania eighth-grader named Caroline has been wearing to school in an act of silent protest. Maybe this is more serious than I thought. Caroline agreed to take a break from her activism to talk to Slate about why she is mad at the actor, mass-producing the earrings, and a certain infamous scarf. Our conversation has been edited and condensed.

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Heather Schwedel: How long have you been a Taylor Swift fan?

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Caroline: I’ve honestly listened to her music I’m pretty sure since I was born, because my mom has always been into it. And my grandma is a big fan of her early country music. So I’ve always been surrounded by it, but I started listening to it on my own probably when I was like 8.

Were you excited for the rerelease of Red? I must note that you were 4 when it first came out.

I was definitely excited about it, and a bunch of my friends at school were excited for it. I feel like if any album would be rereleased, I would definitely want it to be Red because I just loved the song “Red” itself. And a bunch of those songs are so good.

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I was really excited for the 10-minute film of “All Too Well,” because I love her music, but you don’t always get to see like her filming and I like her filming skills! I watched it right away. It was so good.

What spoke to you about it?

Whenever I watch stuff, I always have this problem where I just can’t get into it and can’t feel what the artist is trying to show, but with Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien, right away, it just made me kind of uncomfortable. I felt like so bad for Taylor. Right away I was like, “This age gap is a little strange.”

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How did you know that Jake Gyllenhaal was supposedly involved in the story surrounding the album?

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I don’t really remember exactly how I knew. I somehow knew that Red was about him. I heard a friend talking about him and then it just kind of clicked. I loved his acting in Spider-Man, but …. mm-mm.

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So you decided to make earrings.

I’ve always been making jewelry, especially in quarantine. As soon as I saw the film, I don’t know how it came to my head, but just right away, I had this rage against Jake. I was mad. I was like, “Oh, I’ll just do something jewelry-wise.” I found the base picture of him and then I just put an X over it and printed it and started laminating it.

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How did you pick the photo?

I thought this photo went well with the red and then also, I don’t know, I thought he just kind of looked a little mysterious in this one. He definitely has the look that he did something.

Caroline wearing the earrings.
Courtesy of Caroline
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So have you worn them out, like to school?

Oh my gosh. Yeah. Ever since I made them, I’ve been wearing them every single day.

What kind of reactions have you gotten?

It’s crazy. It’s a mix of people being like, “Who is that?” and then a bunch of people being like, “Oh my gosh, I love Taylor Swift.” So I’ve been just making them and handing them out to people. Like I bring five of them every single day, just hoping someone says something about Taylor Swift, and I’ll just give it to them. I’ve given them out to my Spanish teacher, my history teacher, and a handful of random girls that mentioned Taylor Swift.

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Your teachers?

We were in history. We were working on this worksheet about our separation from Britain. My teacher started playing Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” So I grabbed a couple people that had the earrings on with me and we gave her a pair. She was so excited.

My other teacher saw my earrings as I was walking into class, and I was like, “Oh, did you see like the new ‘All Too Well’ film?” And she just started dying laughing, like she had her hands on her knees, her head down, and she was just laughing so hard. So I gave her a pair.

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Did either of them wear them?

They put them on right away.

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If someone asks about the earrings, do you have a quick way of explaining them?

At the beginning I was giving details about the film and everything that went on and the scarf and all that. But I’ve gotten to the point where I just am starting to say that he was just a very bad and toxic boyfriend for Taylor Swift. He did some bad things, so we just don’t support him right now.

Have you encountered anyone who’s pro-Jake?

My cello teacher didn’t see the X at first and she was really excited because she was talking about how she loves Jake Gyllenhaal’s acting. I at first warned her. I was like, “If you really like him, I don’t want to ruin it for you.” But I did tell her, and the good thing is she is a Taylor Swift fan. She’s more of a fan of like Folklore and Evermore. So I don’t think she knew, but she said that she would stop supporting him. I think that’s progress.

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So are you officially boycotting him? Like you wouldn’t see another one of his movies?

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I haven’t really seen much of him to begin with, so I don’t know if I’m necessarily boycotting him, but if he comes out with another movie soon, I will not watch it, unless it has Tom Holland in it.

Do you know who Maggie Gyllenhaal is?

Isn’t that his sister, and that’s the sister that the scarf was left at her house in the song?

Yeah, and she’s an actress too.

Oh!

Are you mad at her too for her involvement in this?

I didn’t know that she was an actor. I haven’t dug too deep into her involvement with it. I don’t know.

What do you think about the scarf? Does it exist?

I think there is a scarf, but I was thinking that there might also be a metaphor connected to the scarf. I feel like I saw something saying that it could also be a metaphor for her virginity.

Do you think Jake still has it?

I feel like he might still have it, but I feel like after all the hate he’s gotten, I would not want to keep the scarf if I was him.

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