The Singing Barbie and Her Gridiron Ken

The Singing Barbie and Her Gridiron Ken

I do not know why it took me so long to think of the similarities America’s newest Celebrity Couple had to the Mattel Toy Company’s iconic dolls. I am writing about 14-time Grammy Award winning singer, Taylor Swift and her new love, Travis Kelce. The dissimilarities of their respective talents seem to make them a fascinatingly odd couple of sorts. 

Ever since the Cruel Summer singer accepted the football player’s invitation to attend the Chicago Bears game on September 24th, the virtual world tuned in every time the Chiefs took the field. Many have compared it to a high school romance, between the starting quarterback and the captain of the cheerleaders. Though these stereotype roles don’t quite fit, there is enough of their special pairing to make believers out of the most ardent skeptics.

Evidently, Kelce had a missed connection with her at one of her concerts in Kansas City, Missouri, at Arrowhead Stadium, so he invited her to the aforementioned game later in the year at the same venue. Swift showed up in his private suite, sporting a red and white Chiefs’ jacket and proceeded to enthusiastically cheer him and his team on. 

During her subsequent game visits Swift was welcomed as an accepted member of the Chief’s family, meeting Kelce’s mom and exchanging cheers and hugs with team quarterback, Patrick Mahomes’ lovely wife while millions of her fans cheered her on during the few times the TV’s cameras cutaway to the private box. On one occasion, she even brought her dad, Scott to a Chief’s game. Cynics think the whole thing is a gargantuan publicity stunt choregraphed like a popular happening. 

Their budding love story has taken on a life larger than even their mutual popular followings. The announcement that President Biden was seeking her open endorsement (She had voted for him in 2020.) has been alleged to have stricken the GOP with deep-seated fears for the upcoming election. Other rumors and even some conspiracy theories have appeared in social media. The most ridiculous was that Swift had played a part in a Pentagon psychological operations and the preposterous idea Swift and her handsome boyfriend, the Chief’s star tight end, are key assets in a secret plot to help Biden gain his re-election in his rematch with former President Donald Trump. Another claimed that the Chief’s appearance in their Super Bowl rematch with 2019 opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, was rigged by the NFL or some other more mysterious corporate power.

Since both Swift and Kelce generally tend toward the liberal side of the political spectrum, it is not surprising that politicians, like Biden would love to feed off their super popularity. Kelce does not seem as politically involved as Swift. He did receive some heat for appearing in an ad promoting the double dose of the flu vaccine and the most recent booster for the Covid-19 vaccine. These shots can easily be dismissed as not politically motivated. For example, I always get a flu shot. 

For the record, they were both born in 1989, Kelce in October and Swift in December. She is from West Reading, Pennsylvania and he from Westlake, Ohio. Both come from Christian backgrounds, though Swift was turned off from Christianity because of some Republican politicians, who were pro-life and opposed to the LGBT agenda in her adopted home state of Tennessee. While the whole Kelce family were Democrats, he professes to be a Christian and works with several charities. 

According to an article, written by Melissa Goldin of the Associated Press, popular culture and politics have long been entwined. The entertainment industry has long been a deep well of political contributions. And candidates often try to draft on the celebrity of entertainers to add to their own allure.

The reality of this constant among politicians is that while most celebrities favor the liberals, in the long run their only tacit advantage is in voter registration. Most voters seem to follow their own self-interests in choosing their candidates. Swift has already urged her 272 million followers to register. Of that number Goldin reports that her post led to more than 35,000 registrations on the non-partisan nonprofit (0.000129%)

When I first started thinking about this topic, I was wondering whether there was any there…there. What attracted me to this celebrity pairing, is despite their larger-than-life appearance, as a couple they seem basically normal. In a word, I think they look so wholesome to me. Neither seems to be extreme in their looks, attire and general congeniality. They do not appear artificial or to be acting out their roles. I know little of their past romances, though given the liberality of our highly sexualized culture and the preponderance of the serial hook-up, I am not so naive as to assume they are engaging in a platonic relationship. 

In looking at the video of Kelce hugging and kissing Swift after the Chief’s clinching a trip to the Super Bowl, I caught a brief glimpse of something pristine about them. I see something special and maybe even lasting. As I told my daughter in a text, there is beauty and joy in the way they seem to react to each other’s determination to support the other’s personal aspirations. I find this very attractive and admirable.

To this I added if they could devote that much time and energy to a marriage and family if they ever decided to go against the cultural flow they just might be a real couple or what people today call ‘authentic’. For one thing, think of all the trouble they have endured to be present for the other’s events. While Swift has been at virtually every Chief’s game since they became a couple, she has much more control over her career than does Kelce.

To be fair, I went on-line to see what the celebrity-watchers say about the couple Ronn Torossian, the founder of 5WPR told the InsiderThere are plenty of athletes that you have heard of. (Such as New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rogers who has attended a couple of her concerts and sang along with her.) Travis Kelce is not one of them. If this were just a publicity stunt, she would have picked someone with a greater celebrity than a football player. And with her success and wealth, Swift does not need cheap publicity shots.   

Many say that there is something real going on here because Swift has been extra cautious with their over-exposure. One expert said, I think there’s something happening there that is spontaneous…at least for the moment, feels genuine to me. The aura seems very real to some of these experts. 

According to Sociology Professor Brian Donovan at Kansas University, who teaches a course, The Sociology of Taylor Swift: She has become a cultural touchstone, a kind of lingua franca topic that everyone can discuss safely and energetically…everyone seems to have purchase on her celebrity. Everybody is talking about Taylor and Travis…as quoted in a USA article, written by Gabe Lacques before the Super Bowl. 

Donovan, who is also the author of a book, tentatively titled, Swiftie: An Anatomy of Fandom has been able to view the couple close up, beginning with Kelce’s attempts to get a friendship bracelet with his phone number to Swift when her Eras Tour came to Kansas City, to their after-game dates, and also the fact that she could have spent the Christmas holidays anywhere she wanted but she chose to come to Kansas City for home games on Christmas and New Years Day. He said it was little details like that make me think it’s a real relationship…this is a love story.

No one can hide the fact that The Swift Effect has had a substantial effect on Kelce’s career and celebrity, in and outside of professional football, such as the Podcast, New Heights, where Kelce has teamed up with his older brother, Jason, a former center with the Philadelphia Eagles. New Heights has done just that! Since Taylor and he became linked, it has soared to the stratosphere of such programing.   

Kelce’s #87 jersey sales are up 400% and he has extended his own popularity way beyond the limits of the sports world. His ubiquitous ads are nearly as funny and endearing as those of Patrick Mahomes, his touchdown partner’s work for State Farm Insurance. But I think this is just a positive side effect of his true feelings and not the reason for his pursuit of her.

The public is asking, will their publicity and frequency before the cameras evaporate after his football clock expires, which hopefully, won’t be for many years? And with that will it finish them as an item? While this kind of speculation will probably continue for some time about them, I hope what must be a sense of abject loneliness that often tortures such celebrities that just maybe they will take each other seriously and try to plan a future. Though the odds are against them for several reasons, the most pernicious is the habit that short-sighted fans and the media have a built-in cruelty that raises up these couples and then tears them apart. I hope they are strong enough and emotionally faithful to weather these eventual storms. 

I know Swift and Kelce are not a good example of a Christian couple, worthy of emulation. I could have profiled the Chief’s kicker, Harrison Butker, recognized as one of the most devout Catholics in all sports. He is married with three children and feels that tradition-oriented Catholics are being persecuted in the Church.  

But maybe that is my point. Nice couples, like Taylor and Travis are rare in our lethal culture. I think I see something special in their relationship. Of course, I am an incurable romantic. Films where men and women come from different walks of life, inevitably get linked by destiny, followed by their going to the altar, and raising a family, always make me cry. I am starting to feel this about the singer and the football player. 

It would be difficult for me to predict what a Swift/Kelce marriage would be like. Their respective careers pose no problem now but who knows how they will balance their marital needs with the demands of work and maybe a child or two. I wish their relationship the happy ending most such marriages of egos denies. The only way this happens is if they open their hearts to each other and find a Divine presence, blessing their love. Since God is Love, wherever there is a true love, He will be there.

It also takes the stuff of character, such as patience, tolerance, understanding and self-sacrifice to make for a successful marriage. And that usually is only on display beyond a couple’s closed doors. Unlike their iconic doll counterparts, Taylor and Travis will have to meet as equals. I can say one thing, pride and its attendant the Green Monster of Jealousy will kill all relationships if couples let it.

The only comparable celebrity pairing that I can think of was that of baseball great Joe DiMaggio and blonde actress Marilyn Monroe in 1951. Both of them were cultural icons for years before their brief marriage of nine months. One story about Joe and Marilyn will illustrate what killed their marriage. Early in the Korean War, the couple flew to Japan where Marilyn would then go to South Korea to entertain thousands of troops. The soldiers loved her and showed their affection with thunderous cheers. When she returned she was overjoyed with her experience. As one may expect, she shared her exhilaration with her husband, saying Joe have you ever had 50,000 people cheering for you? DiMaggio, who had starred for the New York Yankees for years, said without emotion, Yes, I have. While the same could inevitably happen to any Swift/Kelce union, I am praying that they beat the odds, whatever Vegas may post on such a bet. 

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Written by
William Borst