No, not “Swift Boat.” That’s so 2004.
So, among the other numerous characteristics that we share, T and I are continually discussing our love-hate relationship with Taylor Swift and her oh-so-catchy songs. However, we’re having some difficulty getting around the plot in her new-ish single “Love Story.” It seems simple enough, right? It’s about doomed lovers Romeo and Juliet. They meet at a party, are driven apart by parents, sneak around parents and eventually die because of a miscommunication. You might ask, why would Taylor Swift write a song about one of the most tragic literary romances of time? (Ignoring the fact she should have enough of her own to write about, without needing historical reference.)
Well, it might be because Taylor not only cuts the story off where they’re happy and getting married, but also CHANGES it significantly, making the entire rest of Shakespeare’s work unnecessary. Example A, last verse:
“Marry me Juliet, you’ll never have to be alone
I love you and that’s all I really know
I talked to your dad, go pick out a white dress
It’s a love story, baby just say yes”
Analysis: Creative license for the proposal is fine – I don’t know how hard it is to put iambic pentameter to song. However, does anyone think that after hating the Montagues for generations, Signor Capulet would just like, “okay, Romeo, just because you love my daughter that much, go ahead and marry her. I’m happy for you kids.” No. He wouldn’t. So, by adding that little line, Taylor just completely changed all of Act 4 and 5, and instead Romeo and Juliet go off in marital bliss A few years later, she pops out a couple of kids, he gets a gut and does the Renaissance equivalent of sitting on the couch watching TV all day…and you get the point? Totally uninteresting.
In honor of this, T and I came up with other things to “Swift” (if you still don’t get the word, it means to completely change a historical (love) story to suit a song, and therefore make it inaccurate and uninteresting). Here we go!
Song version of Titanic (we’re going with the love story in the movie for this one). How about the story stays the same for the first fourth of the movie or so. Jack is poor, Rose is rich, she has a d-bag fiance who orders her around, Jack and Rose meet and hang out below decks, he draws her naked, etc. etc. Now, for the Swifted change, they’re running away from Cal’s evil henchmen, but instead of going to have sex in a car below decks, they go have sex in a lifeboat. Well, little iceberg watch people notice this, and are being total creepers, but lo and behold, right beyond the view of this particular lifeboat, they see the faint outline of an icebeg. They call the bridge, alert the captain, who steers out of the way, and the Titanic never hits an iceberg. It arrives in New York just fine, Jack and Rose live a spontaneous yet unfulfilled life because they never had to test their love in the face of a distaster.
Cons: you can’t drag your hand across a steamy window if you’re in a lifeboat.
Our first thought was to get rid of the little sister all together. Then we realized there was no story, so we couldn’t do that. So we settled for the chocolate factory man not to rape their cousin. We’ll say he doesn’t even come with Leon to dinner. Then, the obnoxious little sister wouldn’t have been suspicious of anything, no sex in the library would have been interrputed, and Robbie wouldn’t have been incorrectly framed. He wouldn’t have gone to prison, and he and Cecilia would emigrate to America to escape the pressure they face between class differences. He wouldn’t go to war, and she wouldn’t be in a subway tunnel during an air raid. So, they become American citizens and live in the Midwest for the rest of their lives.
Cons: WWII would still happen, no matter what. Even Taylor couldn’t write around that.
3. THE ILIAD/TROY
There are a couple ways to write around this one. 1) Paris steals Helen and Menelaus is like, whatevs, that incredibly effeminate boy with the stupid dip-dyed robes can have my wife. There are plenty more to choose from in the world. So there’s no war, Achilles never gets hit in the foot and he’s still around today, wandering confusedly around Times Square. But again, that leaves us with…no story. So, how about the war continues the way it actually did (or did in the movie), except Brad Pitt’s cousin/boyfriend in the story doesn’t get killed and because of that, they’re in a different place during that last end battle. So he and the actress who ran off with director Robert Rodrieguez live happily for a little bit on his awesome island, until the “New Moon”-ish battle overtakes them – what happens when he’s immortal and she’s not? Biting her neck won’t really do anyone any good, so basically, once she realizes that, she wallows around in grief for the rest of her life.
Cons: nothing for Latin students to do in high school.
4. ROMAN HOLIDAY
First of all, George Peppard would be in this one too. Making smoking look hot. Instead of the bittersweet ending where he sees her at the press conference all regal, knowing she’s doing what she has to, she runs off the podium into his arms and decides she loves him more than she wants to be cooped up as a princess.They live happy and contented, but she gets frustrated with his callous journalist behavior and demeanor, and suspects him of planning to write a tell-all novel, “I convinced the Princess to leave the throne for me.” Like any other wife of the 50s, she quietly does nothing.
Cons: Breakfast at Tiffany’s wouldn’t have to be made.
THE LAST WORD:
“It’s not fun unless someone dies.” – T, on Shakespeare’s writing motivations.