Sunday, March 3, 2024
HomeentertainmentThe Taylor and Travis fan fiction that’s tearing TikTok apart

The Taylor and Travis fan fiction that’s tearing TikTok apart

She’sa beloved blond pop star withtheinitials TS. He’sa handsome NFL player with a popular podcastandtheinitials TK. Together, they have fused America’sobsession with pop starsandathletes into a celebrity pairing so incandescent it’salmost celestial.

That’sthestory ofTaylorSwiftandTravisKelce,thereigning princeandprincess of American pop culture. But it’salsotheplot of a recent work of eroticfanfiction, which some readers — many of whom arefansof Swift — are decrying as an invasion of privacy.

In a since-deletedTikTokvideo, which is still available on her Facebook page, an independent romance author who publishes underthename Ivy Smoak announcedtherelease of a short e-book. Inthevideo, Smoak claims to have writtenthenovel in three days after receiving requests from readers for a “spicy” romance inspired by SwiftandKelce’srelationship. According tothetrailer,thebook would involve a “pop star princess,” a “football superstar,” a “sassy heroine”anda “secret relationship.”

On Sept 29, less than a week after Swift’sfirst appearance at a Kansas City Chiefs game, Smoak published “RoughingthePrincess” to Kindle’sDirect Publishing platform, which made it available for purchase on any Kindle deviceandas a free download for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Thecover ofthee-book features a cartoon image of a blond pop star shown from behind. She is holding a microphoneandwearing a red football jersey emblazoned withthenumber 69. Whilethebook claims to be “inspired by”thereal-life romance of SwiftandKelce,andstarts out with a disclaimer statingthat“any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is purely coincidental,” many readers feltthattheattempt at “shipping” —theact of imagining or championing a relationship between celebrities — hewed too close to reality,andthey flocked to Twitter,TikTokandGoodReads to denounce it as inappropriate X-ratedfanfiction.

In a review on Goodreads, a user withthescreen name Isabella calledthebook, “almost creepy” in a 1-star review. “if i could give this 0 stars, i would,” she said. “i love shipping TS/TK but this makes it weird.”

To followers of BookTok —thenickname forTikTok’savid reader community — there is a clear distinction between booksthatare <em>loosely</em> based on real people,andthosethatare “real personfiction,” a subgenre offanfictionin which amateur authors create unauthorizedfictionalstories involving real people.

Many on BookTok feltthat“RoughingthePrincess,” which borrows exact details of KelceandSwift’sbiographyandromance, while using nearly direct quotes from Kelce’sinterviewsandpodcasts, read more like “real personfiction” than an “inspired by” story.Thatfact, coupled withthebook’sgraphic sex scenes, left many readers feeling uncomfortably voyeuristic, as if by simply readingthebook they’d participated in violating their favorite pop star’sprivacy. Devotedfansof Swift felt dupedanddisgusted.

“It’sfine to write a fanficandit’sfine to write smut, but when you combinethetwoandthen try to pass it off as an ‘inspired story’ when it’svery obviously about two real people,that’snot OK.That’snot right.That’sgross,” said Gina Burgess, 33, aTikTokcreator who lives in Florida. Burgess made a video declaring “RoughingthePrincess” to be “theworst book I’ve ever read in my entire life.”

“I read a lot of other booksthathave smut in themandI’ve never felt gross after them, but this one I did,” Burgess said.

Other “RoughingthePrincess” readers echoed this sentiment in videos posted toTikTokandTwitter.

“This is not whatthegirlies wanted when we said we wanted a ‘football star meets pop star’ inspired romance book,” Kayla Compton, a social media manager for authors who has more than 54,000 followers onTikTok, said in a review. “It just felt like a gimmick to make some money.”

Compton, 26, saidthatas a footballfan, a Swiftieandan avid reader, she felt compelled to finishthebook, even though she wanted to stop reading afterthefirst few pages. “I felt like I had to review it,” Compton said. “AndI don’t ever do negative reviews, sothefactthatI did it speaks to how much she shouldn’t have written it.”

Compton pointed tothebook “ThePlaylist” by Morgan Elizabeth as a good example of a “spicy romance”thatwas inspired by Swift, but isn’t explicitly about her personal life.

Shortly after Smoak published “RoughingthePrincess” online, it was yanked from Amazon,andalmost all mentions of it were scrubbed from Smoak’ssocial platforms. It’sunclear whether Amazon unpublishedthebook, or if Smoak took it down herself; it’salso unclear if it was taken down as a response to reader feedback, or if there were potential legal or copyright reasons forthedecision. (Smoakandrepresentatives for Swift did not respond to requests for comment.)

Instead of wipingthebook’sexistence from her social mediaandcontinuing to post about unrelated subjects, some BookTok users expressedthatthey would have preferred for Smoak to have taken accountability fortherelease of “RoughingthePrincess”andapologize.

“I think she could have come outandsaid, ‘Hey guys, I messed up,’” Burgess said. “I’m going to take time to examine what I should be writingandnot take real eventsandmake them into smut.”

“If you’re writing a Kaylor book,that’snot real life, you’re imagining things,” Compton said. She also pointed outthatfanfictionis typically free, whereas copies of “RoughingthePrincess” were on sale for $6.99. “Fanfictioneither is written aboutfictionalcharacters or, if it’sabout real people, it still has a large element offictionandit’sfree,” Compton said. “When you write a spicy fanfic storyandyou’re paywalling it,that’swhen it gets weird.”

(Published 27 October 2023, 05:26 IST)

- Advertisment -

Most Popular