Comic-Con happened this weekend. We’ll get to all the Comic-Con content through the day. But let’s start with Swoki. Swoki did not make an appearance at Comic-Con this weekend. Here they are arriving in LA from Australia on Thursday. Tom Hiddleston was in San Diego on Saturday while Taylor Swift stayed back in LA, seen at the gym. On Sunday Tom was papped at the Four Seasons, reportedly accompanied by Taylor’s security. So business as usual then. It’s been a week since Gossip Christmas and she’s playing like it’s over, like she’s stopped caring – from someone who’s proved time and again that she never forgets, not until she gets hers.
PEOPLE asked Tom at Comic-Con about his high profile summer, trying to get him to talk about Taylor. This was his response:
"I don't know, it comes down to being authentic. Everything you do you have to make sure you truly believe in it and as long as you know that, it doesn't matter what anyone else says about it because the nature of being a public figure is that everyone will have an opinion about anything you do, and as long as you know why you’ve done something and you've committed to it with authenticity then you're okay.
It’s another way of saying what he said a couple of weeks ago when asked about the speculation that he and Taylor were a publicity stunt and he told The Hollywood Reporter that they were very happy and it’s not a publicity stunt, this time by using the word “authentic”. Which is ironic because it’s Taylor’s authenticity that was called into question after Gossip Christmas. Not just whether or not she lied about approving Kanye West’s Famous but the authenticity of her entire brand. Those recordings confirmed that she spends a lot more time crafting her image and polishing her messages than she lets on – and there’s nothing wrong with that, only she’s always pretended that her “authenticity” was guided by instinct and intuition over strategy.
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine sent me an article from the Harvard Business Review about authenticity in management. The piece argues that surface authenticity can be a barrier to vision and effective leadership. Entry level authenticity is strictly “introspective”. In celebrity terms, it’s basically the “me” approach to every situation. But “I” was the one who did that. But “I” was the one who made that. But “I” was the one who FELT it. “My” feelings should be honoured. And thus the cycle of narcissism that famous people keep spinning. They are constantly looking inward. Using “authenticity” then becomes a justification for it. “I’m just being me.” In Taylor’s case, she got busted for what “being me” really means when the behind-the-scenes version of “me” didn’t line up with the one presented to us on stage at award shows.
The goal, according to the HBR article is to achieve “adaptive authenticity”, supported by “outsight” – for corporate executives, that means evolving authenticity by experience and outside perspective, a challenge for anyone because we all live inside our own heads. And especially for celebrities because they live in heads that are inflated by egos.
What’s particularly interesting to me about Taylor’s authenticity crisis is that her authenticity was jeopardised by Kanye West’s wife, someone who, depending on how you look at it, is either the least authentic person in Hollywood or the most authentic person in Hollywood. Least authentic because, frankly, part of the intrigue is wondering what’s real about her show and her life and her family. Most authentic because she’s in on the joke that it’s all bullsh-t anyway. Authenticity, therefore, is neither a weapon nor a weakness.