In one corner: Taylor Swift, a human being who has risen to the top of the pop music charts. In the other corner: Juliette Barnes, a fictional character on the ABC television series Nashville. In almost every piece written about Nashville, Hayden Panettiere's character is frequently compared to the "fearless" starlet.
At face value, it's a good comparison. Both are blonde country-pop singers emerging from Nashville, the King's Landing of country music. Both have successful music careers that draw criticism from the hardcore country music contigency who insist both are pop singers, not country musicians. And the high profile careers of both women have led to a few high-profile relationships and breakups, leading the general public to view both as people engaging in the world exclusively for the purpose of writing about it later, and not actually being a part of the world.
Of course, Juliette Barnes is not a real person. She's a character created by Callie Khouri and brought to life by Hayden Panettiere. She may look and act like a fictional version of Swift, but everything she does must have a reason behind it or else it contributes nothing to the qualities of Nashville. Swift, on the other hand, is a real person. She's a flesh-and-blood human being, with all the contradictions that apply to us lowly sacks of hyper-aware tissue and bone. If the spotlight wasn't on her 24/7, Swift's actions would simply be those of a twentysomething woman living her life, a subject on which Lena Dunham has a few things to say.
Yet the spotlight is always on Taylor Swift. That means everything she does and says is anaylized within the context of what we previously knew about her and how that knowlege is affected by this new information. It's curiously similar to how we deconstruct the character of Juliette, really. With both women, we seek to provide meaning within the framework of a narrative. But does that mean the Muppets are right, that "a celebrity is not a people"? My gut says no; a vast ocean of entertainment magazines and tabloids will probably say otherwise. Either way, it's somewhat dehumanizing to narrowly define Swift's aspects through the lens of Juliette Barnes. After all, only the latter's actions have to add up to something concrete.
Interesting post, Cameron. I am familiar with the show, even though I haven't seen it, and wanted to know how the ebb and flow of Swift's love life is treated in Nashville. Or is, as you seem to suggest, Juliette an archetype that Swift only coincidentally embodies?
Add new comment