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What Taylor Swift would tell herself at 19: you'll be "a lightning rod for slut shaming"

Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.

Interviewing celebrities is tough. The most famous ones in particular have armies of publicists, communications strategists, and the like hired to keep them on message and prevent them from saying anything off brand. That forces journalists to constantly devise new techniques to prompt their subjects into loosening up and saying something unexpected.

Vogue's 73 Questions series has figured out a clever strategy: Just pepper interviewees with questions and demand answers fast enough that their responses are unfiltered by default. And it works, as evidenced by the latest installment, featuring Taylor Swift, which winds up being both hysterically funny at points and surprisingly sincere and thoughtful at others.

Credit must also go to Swift, who loosens up her everybody's-best-friend image and displays an admirable and hilarious willingness to come across as a sarcastic, jaded weirdo/business maven:

  • Something that moved her recently: "The movie The Martian."
  • Sarcastically, when interviewer Joe Sabia suggests a Scrabble board she arranged to say "Hello Vogue" might have been planned: "No, that was spontaneous. I'm a very spontaneous person."
  • Something she still has from her childhood: "My insecurities."
  • Her favorite TV show still on the air: "Dateline."
  • A movie that made her cry her eyes out: "Oh, my god, The Martian."
  • What she'd be doing if she weren't in music: "Might be in advertising. Coming up with slogans and concepts is the same as hooks and songs."
  • The most adventurous thing she's ever done: "Watching Shark Week."
  • A song she wishes she'd written: "The Friends theme song, because of those royalties."
  • Her advice for wannabe singers: "Get a good lawyer."
  • What she'll wear to the Met gala: "I'm going to be dressed as a robot and carry a sword."
  • On what she'd say to her 19-year-old self: "Hey, you're going to date just like a normal 20-something should be allowed to, but you're going to be a national lightning rod for slut-shaming."

There's a lot more where that came from, including a bizarrely long tangent about how much her friends love the hand sanitizer she always carries with her. It's easily the best interview Swift has ever given, at least until she agrees to Vox's long-proposed joint interview with comedian John Mulaney about their mutual love of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

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