Unequivocally, the best part about being on tour with Taylor Swift is that she knows how to celebrate National Snake Day. As a snake — a massive animatronic one used mostly as a set piece — I rarely get to enjoy this holiday. It's my day. I should enter a stadium and see snakes upon snakes upon snakes. People should wear tee shirts with snakes on them! Rings that are actually tiny snakes! And that's exactly what the reputation tour provided last night. We did the show as usual, it was just a bit more snake-y.
When I arrived on stage for "Look What You Made Me Do," Taylor even gave the day a shout-out.
"Happy national snake day, my favorite day of the year," Taylor said.
To recap: National Snake Day is a big deal to Taylor (not just to me, a snake) because on July 17, 2016, Kim Kardashian tweeted about the day, writing, "Wait it's legit National Snake Day?!?!?They have holidays for everybody, I mean everything these days!" She added a few snakes at the end for emphasis. This tweet is (allegedly) a dig at Taylor, who released a statement condemning Kanye West for calling her "that bitch" in his song "Famous." Kim later released audio footage of Taylor seemingly agreeing to having her name in the song, although the footage doesn't contain mention of the lyric "that bitch." Kim Kardashian fans then flooded Taylor's Instagram with snakes. (At this point, I don’t think it’s possible that anyone doesn’t know about this watershed moment in the history of humankind and snake-kind, but just in case you’ve spent the past two years reading Russian literature or curing cancer, that’s the context!)
None of this really matters — the pop culture news cycle is like a python; it can unhinge its jaw and swallow just about anything in a matter of days — but it does mean that snakes are Taylor's "thing" now. Back in August 2017 (such innocent, expectant times!) before releasing reputation, Taylor deleted allllll her Instagram posts and replaced them with a single, flickering snake. (That snake is actually a good friend of mine, Claudia! Such a force and a kind soul.) This launched the PR campaign for the album, which later gave birth to the reputation stadium tour. Snakes are now an indelible part of Taylor's image, which is all very well and good, because I need a job. Every bit of her is snakey, from her set decorations down to her new Kate Spade backpack, worn (to much online consternation!) on this sacred holiday near her roughly $9 million crash pad in NYC's Tribeca.
Think of reputation as a thematic continuation of "Blank Space," in which she embodied, satirically, the guise of a crazy, obsessive and vengeful ex-girlfriend: Taylor decided, for this album, she'd inhabit the character the world gave her. Then, by inhabiting that now Disney-esque villain, she discovered a new version of herself. New Taylor! None is of this Taylor-approved analysis — just me, a giant animatronic reptile, spinning my wheels. I don't have a brain.
Another reason why National Snake Day is the best? It's the day that Taylor sang "Babe" for the first time. "Babe" is her song with the country band Sugarland, and one of her first post-reputation collaborations, released in April. The song is paint-by-numbers Taylor, a breakup song about a cheating partner. One lyric refers to sitting on the "kitchen floor." (Taylor has a thing with kitchens. Remember "dancing around the kitchen in the refrigerator light"?) "Babe" is comforting Taylor fare, a glimpse at her old brand.
"Old Taylor," dead as she is, is still around. Maybe she's haunting us. In my personal snake opinion, personal growth is too often seen as a straight line: We move from one type of person to a new type of person. But growth is, well, growth. We get bigger! More complex and nuanced! Our ability to contain multitudes gets stronger, and we start to contain even more multitudes. Both Taylors are in there, if you ask me. It's like she unhinged her jaw and swallowed Old Taylor, like a python.
It's all a part of the Taylor evolution, which she always discusses before the song "Long Live." At last night's performances, Taylor told the crowd, "I don't think you necessarily need to be stoked about bad things that happen to you or tough times you go through, but I do think that one way to be grateful for good things that do happen to you is to understand that they wouldn't be happening without bad things or tough times you'd previously gone through."
In other words: being called a snake on social media can sometimes lead to a snake-themed stadium tour. This weekend, we're in New Jersey, just outside New York City! See you, Big Apple crowd. Try not to be too obnoxious.