Celebrity romances provide Swift escape, professors say

Taylor Swift's name has been in the media lately, as rumors of her relationship with Travis Kelce surface. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

By Kalena Reynolds | Reporter

Between B-list ex-boyfriends and a billion-dollar stadium tour, Taylor Swift has been the central focus of many minds lately — but not for either of those reasons. On Sunday, Swift watched Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce play against the Chicago Bears from his suite.

While the two haven’t officially announced their relationship, fans around the globe have been speculating about their budding connection, coming up with name combos like Traylor, Tayvis and Swelce.

It begs the question, why are people so obsessed with this potential relationship and other celebrity romances?

Kim Patterson, lecturer in the department of journalism, public relations and new media, said celebrity flings tap into society’s obsession with romance.

“I think people are fascinated by celebrity romances because people in general are in love with romantic love,” Patterson said. “And even if you go back to when we were a kid and we watch the Disney movies, it’s always the damsel meets her prince charming and they end up living happily ever after.”

Swift and Kelce fit the blueprint of “romanticized love.” Sparks flew for Kelce when he attended Swift’s Kansas City concert in July. On the podcast “New Heights” Kelce cohosts with his brother, he admitted to making her a friendship bracelet with his phone number on it, although he couldn’t give it to her.

“There’s always this fascination and feeling like, ‘Well, if that can happen to them, it can happen to me,'” Patterson said. “When they see their favorite celebrities in that situation, it’s like they, by proxy, feel the happiness and the good feelings from it.”

Matthew Brammer, lecturer in the department of journalism, public relations and new media, said people are attracted to celebrities because they want to be like them and live the lives that stars do.

“We aspire to be successful,” Brammer said. “We aspire to have the beautiful significant other, male or female. We like people like ourselves, and we like people who compliment us. We like people who we can aspire to be like. Thus, that’s where the term ‘influencers’ comes from.”

As far as celebrity breakups go, Brammer said people enjoy spectating celebrity relationships because of the escape that it offers.

“I think that it kind of goes to the same thing … people want an escape,” Brammer said. “They want to know that in their life, there’s some similarity or there’s some aspect of being better than them.”

Even though the media whirlwind began less than a week ago, Swift has already made an impact on Kelce’s career through sales and viewership.

“Travis Kelce saw a nearly 400% spike in sales throughout the Fanatics network of sites, including NFLShop.com,” a spokesperson told the Associated Press via email.

Additionally, according to data from Roku, viewership of the Chiefs vs. Bears game by women ages 18-49 increased by 63% compared to the Chiefs vs. Jacksonville Jaguars game.

Dr. Marlene Neill, associate professor in the department of journalism, public relations and new media, said oftentimes, a relationship spotlight in the media is planned by a publicist to highlight a celebrity’s upcoming project.

“People tend to be interested in what happens in their lives, and some of that traces back to the early days of the publicist who would try to get attention for their celebrity clients because they had a new movie or project or book coming out,” Neill said.