UT Austin

All Too Well: A Love Letter to Inequality

Whether you’re a Swiftie or an innocent bystander whose TikTok For You page has been hijacked by Swiftok, you might have stumbled across the cinematic masterpiece: All Too Well: The Short Film. The film acts as the music video for the 10-minute version of the marquee song from Red (Taylor’s Version). Swift wrote the song about her relationship with ex-boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal and many fans across the country related to its sincere and gut-wrenching lyrics, but this did not spare the short film from criticism.

Taylor Swift; courtesy Universal Pictures

While the singer is re-releasing albums to create her music the way she intended, Swift was accused of holding grudges and parodied for being vindictive and petty.

 The short film puts those critics to shame by taking the audience on a visceral journey of a toxic relationship through the eyes of the young woman subjected to emotional trauma. Audiences are able to visualize the intricate imagery embedded in the lyrics of the song. Those who criticize Swift for holding a grudge are able to see how deeply painful the act of remembering this period of her life must be, and those who accuse her of fabricating details are reminded that one never forgets trauma inflicted upon them.

The film has sparked a conversation about age gaps in relationships and their impact on an individual. Swift, herself has been criticized for dating Conor Kennedy, who was four years younger, and Taylor Lautner, who was three years younger. However, the bigger criticism was the fact that Swift was an adult dating a teenaged Lautner. It is also worthwhile to note that comparing these relationships to the one with Gyllenhaal is unfair and inherently sexist, especially since their relationship had a nine-year age gap.

Power inequality in a relationship is often experienced when one partner has more power over the other’s emotions, financial security, or life in some severe cases. The inherent toxicity in Swift and Gyllenhaal’s relationship stemmed not only from their age gap but the fact that Swift was in her early twenties while Gyllenhaal was nearly in his thirties. The profound life changes between those decades not only shape you as a person but alter your perspective and outlook on life. Furthermore, there is a profound difference in confidence and comfort with yourself between the two ages. This means the older partner always has the upper hand in contrast to the volatile and emotional younger partner in the relationship.

A scene in the middle of the film highlights this imbalance in the relationship as the younger actress (played by Sadie Sink) fumes about how her older boyfriend failed to pay attention to her during a dinner with his friends. He dismisses her concerns and anger, calls her selfish, and gaslights her emotions. While the fight is resolved after he apologizes, a particularly telling moment is when the young girl says she feels embarrassed and her boyfriend says nothing. His refusal to admit he was wrong and that he has a responsibility to not make her feel isolated, shows he truly is an emotional manipulator whether it is unconscious or not.

The film does a fair job to portray him not as a villain, but rather as a damaged man who is unable to recognize his problematic behavior due to his own trauma. Despite criticism, the film captured the truly flawed nature of human beings and is a  warning to be wary of relationships with age gaps at different stages of their life. It is not different life aspirations as the final nail in the coffin of these relationships, but rather the older partner’s ability to manipulate the younger one’s emotion because they have experienced similar emotions and feelings in the past.

The 2014 Tumblr Revival

Certain objects have the power to take us back to specific moments in our lives. Popsicles and grass stains may remind you of playing with your childhood friends in the summer, or the smell of chocolate chip cookies might remind you of your grandma. American Apparel tennis skirts, Doc Martens and Arctic Monkeys? 2014 Tumblr. 

It seems like every month, a new trend surfaces on the internet. Over the past year alone, there were countless internet trends like cottage-core or 2000’s style clothing. Although most trends are a repeat of previous styles from decades ago, like 80’s mom jeans becoming popular in 2016, many current trends have started to draw inspiration from the last few years. With TikTok as the main source for these trends, the time periods from which the inspiration is being drawn has gotten more recent and niche. TikTok’s latest victim? 2014 Tumblr aesthetics. 

If you ask anyone ages 18 to 28 what 2014 Tumblr culture reminds them of, you’ll probably get the same answers. Flannels, black and white album covers and nonsensical “deep” quotes were all pillars of this time period. Countless hours were spent endlessly scrolling through Tumblr, reblogging Lana Del Rey quotes or grainy photos of city skylines. Although many of us who were active in the 2014 Tumblr subculture reminisce fondly about it, no one can believe that seven years later it would become trendy again. Here are three ways that I believe 2014 Tumblr culture will make a comeback:  

Clothing

Fashion is one of the biggest ways I believe we’ll see a revival in 2014 Tumblr aesthetics. When you look up “2014 tumblr outfits,” you are bombarded with tennis skirts, knee high socks and Doc Martens. Each of these items was a staple within the community, and can be seen making a comeback right now. If you sit along Speedway, almost every other person you see will be wearing one of these clothing items. 

Music 

Music was a large part of the 2014 Tumblr culture. Arctic Monkeys, Sky Ferreira, Marina and the Diamonds, The 1975, Lana Del Rey and Lorde were just a few of the coveted musicians/bands that were popular during that time. With the release of a new Lana del Rey album and rumored comeback of Sky Ferreira, it’s hard not to feel like there will be a revival of popular 2014 musicians.

Attitude

For many pre-teens and teens, Tumblr was used as an act of self-expression. Communities were created within the platform that catered to all interests. In particular, a large portion of the 2014 Tumblr community found their niche in grunge clothing, indie music and black-and-white grid patterns. Now on platforms like Tiktok, teens are creating their own spaces for self-expression– similar to Tumblr. 

The 2014 Tumblr revival won’t be a carbon copy of what some of us remember from seven years ago, however, I think that there will be tons of parallels in clothing, music and attitudes. Newer generations will put their own spin on the aesthetics that so many of us grew up on. In the meantime, I think it’s safe to say that you can bring out your Doc Martens, American Apparel tennis skirt and press play on A.M. by the Arctic Monkeys!

Holiday Events To Look Out For in Austin

With Halloween having passed in the blink of an eye, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s are racing towards us. To make the most of this holiday season, you’re going to need some fun and festive events. Here are some of the most exciting holiday events coming up in Austin.

Blue Genie Art Bazaar

When: Nov. 19 – Dec. 24

Where: 6100 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78752

What: An online and in-person shopping fair where local businesses offer a variety of handmade and unique goods that make great gifts!

Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot

When: Nov. 25

Where: The Long Center

What: The annual Turkey Trot is one of Austin’s most treasured holiday traditions. Join volunteers in running for a great cause. Thundercloud Subs is partnered with Caritas of Austin to help end homelessness in Austin. This event will be happening in person and online. Click here to register for the event! 

Peppermint Parkway

When: Nov. 26 – Dec. 26 

Where: Circuit of The Americas

What: A driving tour filled with synchronized lights and holiday songs that you can view from the comfort of your car!

Austin Trail of Lights

When: Nov. 27 – Dec. 31

Where: Zilker Park

What: Drive through Zilker park which will be fully decked out with decorations and Christmas lights. 

Hanukkah Candle Lighting

When: Dec. 1

Where: View the live stream here!

What: The Temple Beth Shalom will be live streaming their Chanukiyah lighting and invites anyone who wishes to join to watch! 

Downtown Holiday Stroll

When: Dec. 2

Where: Starting location TBD, check out this link for more info!

What: A festive walking tour of downtown Austin complete with live music, caroling, shopping, and the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Texas State Capitol.

“The Nutcracker” by Ballet Austin

When: Dec. 4 – Dec. 23

Where: ZACH Theater

What: Ballet Austin will be putting on performances of “The Nutcracker” with accompaniment from the Austin Symphony Orchestra throughout December.

Austin’s New Year

When: Dec. 31

Where: Auditorium Shores

What: Annual New Years celebration with live music, local food trucks, and fireworks.

If none of these events were quite your speed, there are plenty more happening all throughout November and December! Check out Do 512 for a more comprehensive list! If not, there’s definitely something to be said for cuddling up with a cup of hot cocoa, putting on the fireplace (or maybe the ‘Fireplace For Your Home’ on Netflix if you live on campus) and watching a seasonal movie. Happy holidays! 

Featured image by Morgan Scruggs

Why you should be excited for summer walker’s new album: Still over it

R&B singer Summer Walker released her sophomore album, Still Over It, on Nov. 5, a continuation of her 2019 album, Over It.

The album was a success and reached platinum back in May 2020. But who can blame her? Over It is an album about wanting to be loved the right way, but he just never gets it right.

Songs on this album like “Playing Games” embody Walker’s frustration about being with someone who is emotionally unavailable. “Did I ever ask you to take me to go shopping in Paris or go sailing overseas or just drape me in Gucci? No. All I ever asked was you to pick up the phone when you alone,” Walker pleads throughout the track. 

Asking for the bare minimum in a relationship can be painful, and Walker turned that hurt into beautiful melodies. Her 2018 single, “Session 32,”  consisting of raw vocals, guitar strings and a teary voice, has become one of her most personal songs. Still Over It offers “Session 33,” another heartbreaking and private track that follows the footsteps of its predecessor.

However, Walker’s sophomore album includes romantic songs as well. Take “Anna Mae,” a tantalizing song about being with a man who’s in a relationship while you are too. This song is alleged to be about the father of her daughter, music producer London Tyler Holmes, professionally known as London on da Track. Holmes worked on Over It with Walker and the two were in an on-and-off relationship for two years. 

During their tumultuous relationship, Walker and Holmes have been very public about their issues on social media. London had children with three other women prior to his relationship with Walker, all of which have quarreled with Walker on Instagram. She addresses these women in the first song of the new album, titled “Bitter” (personally one of my favorites). 

Walker and Holmes called it quits for good this year and well … it did not have a happy ending. Walker addresses Holmes directly in multiple songs like “Bitter” or “4th Baby Mama.” It’s a heartbreaking album, but she ends the album on a hopeful note with Ciara’s Prayer — praying for a better man. 

Aside from Ciara, she included other R&B artists such as Ari Lennox on “Unloyal” and SZA on “No Love.” These artists gave the album the cherry on top with their unique vocals. 

Prior to releasing the album, Walker provided us a timeline for the songs on her instagram.

This timeline takes us through her painful relationship with Holmes , allowing the listener to connect with the music. So, if you haven’t already, go stream Still Over It. And have some tissues next to you, just in case “Session 33” hits a little too close to home.

Featured Image by Tara Phipps

Sad Girl Autumn: Taylor Swift’s Saddest Lyrics

The mornings are getting chilly. It’s time to start pulling the hats, scarves and plaid button-downs from the back of the closet. Pumpkin spiced lattes have returned — not caring if someone calls it basic. Combined with the re-release of Taylor Swift’s fourth studio album, Red (Taylor’s Version), it’s the season of “Sad Girl Autumn.”

Inspired by “Hot Girl Summer,” coined by rapper Megan Thee Stallion, “Sad Girl Autumn” embraces the sorrow, soul-searching and nostalgia of the fall season. Along with Swift, singer-songwriters Adele and Mitski also released music fitting the theme of “Sad Girl Autumn.”

To celebrate the season, I compiled a list of Swift’s 13 saddest lyrics to reminisce and weep about ahead of the release of Red (Taylor’s Version).

Track Fives

Every Swiftie knows track five is the most emotional, honest and vulnerable song on each album. It’s impossible to discuss Swift’s saddest lyrics without mentioning some of these tracks.

If I could insert the entirety of “All Too Well,” I would. It’s the ultimate track five and is often considered Swift’s best song. In five minutes, Swift revisits a gut-wrenching breakup that still stings years later. With its highly specific lyrics, including a scarf left behind, she reflects on the best and worst moments of a short-lived relationship. 

The original version of the song was 10 minutes long with explicit lyrics before it was trimmed down. However, the re-release of Red (Taylor’s Version) includes the uncut song, as well as a short film starring Swift, Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien.

Saddest lyric: And you call me up again just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest

In “The Archer,” Swift explores her insecurities in a relationship and troubles trusting people. She admits to engaging in drama and acknowledges she never matured enough to deal with this. The song might also be a possible nod to her zodiac sign (Sagittarius) whose symbol is an archer.

Its lyrics are deep and personal with strong metaphors (being the archer and the prey), and an old children’s nursery rhyme (Humpty Dumpty) to call out enemies who were once friends.

Saddest lyric: Who could ever leave me, darling / But who could stay?

In an Instagram post, Swift explained “my tears ricochet” tells the story of an “embittered tormentor showing up at the funeral of his fallen object of obsession.” Fans have speculated the track alludes to selling her master recordings by Big Machine Records founder Scott Borchetta to record executive Scooter Braun.

The song’s funeral imagery could also represent Swift mourning the metaphorical death of her six albums now in the hands of Braun. Although she is artistically free at Republic Records, she sings in the bridge about losing her old musical home along with her original albums at Big Machine Records.

Saddest lyric: And I can go anywhere I want / Anywhere I want, just not home

In an interview with Apple Music, Swift revealed “tolerant it” was inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel Rebecca, in which a husband simply tolerates his wife while she goes out of her way for him. It’s a story about yearning for love and appreciation from someone who does not pay attention to you.

In the bridge, she confesses how much of a priority her husband is to her. He was someone she loved, worshipped and respected. However, her efforts remain unreciprocated and ignored.

Saddest lyric: I made you my temple, my mural, my sky / Now I’m begging for footnotes in the story of your life

Pure Heartbreak

While track fives are personal, emotional and usually the ones that make me cry like a baby, certain songs have more subtle sadness to their lyrics. Sometimes, they are songs that you didn’t realize you connected to until years later.

Part of the folklore teenage love triangle, “august” follows a summer romance doomed from the start. It’s told from the perspective of the girl James cheated on Betty with. The other songs related to this storyline include “cardigan” and “betty.”

It’s a song written for people who have an ex that wasn’t their ex because they never dated. For those who relate to this story, it creates a nice yet strange feeling. Every time I listen to this song, the bridge never fails to break me.

Saddest lyric: ‘Cause you weren’t mine to lose

Ever since listening to “happiness,” I have learned to trust songs with the word happy or happier (looking at you, Olivia Rodrigo). Reexamining a rotten relationship, the narrator also looks back on the better moments before everything went sour. However, it’s a hopeful song that views the bad times as once good times with good things to come in the future.

To me, it’s the perfect song for “Sad Girl Autumn.” It’s mournful yet promising despite all the pain and destruction of previous relationships. It’s about someone still searching for happiness (no pun intended), even though they know it’s a difficult journey.

Saddest lyric: When did all our lessons start to look like weapons pointed at my deepest hurt?

On a more optimistic note, “Begin Again” recalls past relationships while looking forward to new romances. It’s not always easy to move on, especially when insecurities and fears from previous partners always linger as well.

Even though it’s not the saddest song, the few aching moments are loud and clear. It’s the song with lyrics that feel like a stab in the heart if you understand exactly what Swift is saying.

Saddest lyric: He didn’t like it when I wore high heels, but I do

Similar to the previous song, “New Years Day” explores Swift focusing on the future and yearning for the memories. As the closing track on reputation, she appears ready to move on from the old drama and past mistakes.

In the bridge, she fears losing the person she’s falling in love with. These lyrics are reminiscent of “Enchanted” from her third studio album Speak Now, in which she hopes the person she wants isn’t in love with someone else.

Saddest lyric: Please don’t ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere

Folklore / Evermore

I will always love Swift’s sister records, folklore and evermore. The best way to describe my love for these albums is the same way I feel about “All Too Well.” If you don’t like these pieces of work, you probably don’t understand or appreciate the beauty of storytelling and poetry.

It doesn’t matter how many times I listen to “marjorie,” this track will always ignite a waterfall in my eyes. It’s deeply personal full of lessons learned years, as well as guilt for the times Swift didn’t have with her grandmother.

Saddest lyric: Should’ve kept every grocery store receipt / ‘Cause every scrap of you would be taken from me

Going back to the message of “my tears ricochet,” Swift’s regret concerning the loss of her masters and re-recording of her old albums continues in “coney island.” In a Twitter thread, one user interpreted the song as her apology to her old music.

While she attempts to reconnect with her past, the usage of Coney Island and its fading popularity work to represent her current situation and struggles. As mentioned earlier, Swift has artistic freedom at Republic Record, but she remains remorseful for how everything happened so quickly and so publicly.

Saddest lyric: But when I walked up to the podium, I think that I forgot to say your name

Have you ever listened to a song and felt like it was written specifically for you? That’s how I feel about “this is me trying.” It’s a song I hold near and dear to my heart because it’s so personal.

This track follows the narrator accepting wrongdoings while making an effort to improve, even if it goes unnoticed. Things aren’t perfect right now, the narrator knows that, so they are taking the first step to admit and fix things they should have done a long time ago.

Saddest lyric: They told me all of my cages were mental / So I got wasted like all my potential

An Ode to Mom

These last sets of lyrics are less sad lyrics to understand and more of a heartbreaking parallel between Swift and her mother. The mother-daughter duo always had a close relationship, which Swift first wrote about in “The Best Day.”

In the song, she revisits her childhood and teenage years. She recalls her mother taking her window shopping to escape bullying in middle school. She sings, “I don’t know who I’m going to talk to now at school / But I know I’m laughing on the car ride home with you.”

Over the years, Swift has also been open about her mother’s cancer diagnosis and health as a top priority. She later dedicated “Soon You’ll Get Better” to her mother and revealed it’s one of the hardest songs for her to write. In the bridge, she sings, “And I hate to make this all about me / But who am I supposed to talk to? / What am I supposed to do / If there’s no you?”

Of all her songs and lyrics, the parallel between these two songs is the most personal and meaningful. They are also universal because they are songs about wanting only the best for the person who has stayed by your side all your life.

Final Thoughts

As you celebrate the season of “Sad Girl Autumn,” remember Taylor Swift knows how to tug at the heartstrings by creating a collection of songs and lyrics that connect with so many people. It’s both powerful and terrifying. She also knows how to write a bridge you will scream into the void with tears streaming down your face.

Featured image by Bettina Mateo