“Dear(?) John”: Why are Taylor Swift fans trolling John Mayer?
Who knew that music could become the ticket to a trip down memory lane? The Eras Tour rolled into Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium, bringing with it a wave of nostalgia as Taylor Swift introduced “Dear John,” her 2010 chartbuster, to the surprise of her fans. The song, a rumoured nod to her past relationship with John Mayer, hadn’t graced the concert stage since 2012.
Standing on the tour stage night after night, Swift shared with her audience the joy she experiences from the positive energy radiating from the crowd. The friendships formed and the shared memories created at these concerts are an absolute delight for her to witness. However, she also had a special request for her fans: to translate this kindness into their online interactions.
The pop icon, now 33, made it clear that she doesn’t dwell on her past, specifically the time when she was 19. Swift’s intention behind re-releasing her 2010 album Speak Now, an effort to own her early music, is not to provoke her fans into defending her on the internet over ancient controversies.
While Swift has a knack for incorporating her personal experiences into her songs, her fans often take it upon themselves to decipher her lyrics. For instance, her 2014 hit “Style” was instantly tied to her ex, Harry Styles, prompting Swift to quip in an interview with Rolling Stone, “We should have just called it ‘I’m Not Even Sorry.'”
Her 2010 release “Dear John,” which seemingly references another ex, John Mayer, offers even clearer clues for her fans to explore. Lyrics from the song hint at a significant age difference between Swift and the person who inspired the song, with the singer accusing him of playing “dark twisted games.”
Swift was 19 when she briefly dated Mayer, who is 13 years older. The details in her song were enough for her fans to piece together the puzzle and express their displeasure towards Mayer over his alleged treatment of Swift.
The criticism from Swift’s fans did not sit well with Mayer. In a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone, he expressed his displeasure over the one-sided narrative and the ensuing backlash, even going as far as to accuse Swift of abusing her talent.
The drama surrounding Swift’s early relationships has been revived thanks to her decision to re-record her first six albums. Case in point: her 2012 album Red, re-released in 2021, brought Jake Gyllenhaal under fresh scrutiny. The album, which includes songs inspired by their brief 2010 romance, features the heartbreak anthem “All Too Well,” widely assumed to be about the actor.
Further fueling the speculation were the similarities between Dylan O’Brien, who stars as the male love interest in the song’s short film, and decade-old paparazzi photos of Gyllenhaal. The extended cut of the album also includes new lyrics that seemingly call out Gyllenhaal for their nine-year age gap.
Sign of the times
The re-release and ensuing speculation led to Gyllenhaal being targeted by Swift’s fans on social media once again, prompting him to limit comments on his Instagram posts. When the Eras Tour kicked off, the criticism made its way into sold-out stadiums, with fans sporting anti-Gyllenhaal merchandise and chants.
While Gyllenhaal acknowledged Taylor’s freedom to express her personal experiences through her music, he emphasized her responsibility to prevent cyberbullying in her name. As Taylor Swift continues to make waves with her music and her concerts, one wonders, will the fans heed her call for kindness online?