What lengths will a Swiftie go to show their love of Taylor Swift? Or more specifically, how far will a Canberra Swiftie go to show their love of Taylor Swift?
With more than 24 hours' worth of screenings of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour happening at Dendy from Friday evening, it does beg the question as to who will be the ones sitting in those theatre chairs come 4am Saturday? And what makes Canberrans so different from those in Sydney, Melbourne or really anywhere in the other 90 countries who have chosen to limit their Swift screenings to the normal cinema opening times?
It's not unusual for Canberrans to come out in full force with their Swiftie pride. There has been at least one event a month since the Australian leg of The Eras Tour was announced in June with bars hosting friendship bracelet-making events and listening parties, galleries holding concerts with classical renditions of the singer's music, and there's even a Taylor Swift-themed brunch happening next month.
And even though The Eras Tour isn't coming to the capital (c'mon, we can't even get The Coors, who are even going to Launceston), it didn't deter Canberrans from trying to score tickets earlier this year.
Days after the Australian leg of The Eras Tour went on sale - sending fans scrambling for tickets - SEO and digital marketing agency Marketix Digital named the ACT as home to the most Swifites, per capita.
Using Google Analytics to look at queries such as "Are Taylor Swift tickets sold out?" and "Taylor Swift ticket updates" each state or territory was given an interest score. The ACT scored a perfect score of 100, followed by NSW with a score of 88 and Victoria with a score of 78.
So where does the capital's chart-topping love of Swift come from? And who is the typical fan?
According to a Morning Consult survey conducted in the US earlier this year, 53 per cent of adults identify as fans, and a further 16 per cent identify as "avid" fans.
Of those, 52 per cent were women, 74 per cent were white, 45 per cent were Millennials, and 53 per cent lived in suburban areas.
If we compare that to Canberra as a whole, the 2021 census found the average Canberran is a Millennial woman (specifically, 35), who was born in Australia with a British or Irish heritage and is living in a standalone house in the suburbs.
The difference between these two pictures, however, comes down to paycheck. While the US's average Swift fan (or 49 per cent of those surveyed) had a household income of under $US50,000 ($AUD78,000), meanwhile the average Canberran has a household income of $150,000.
But in the year where the purchasing power of women has been highlighted more than ever - with Barbie, Swift and the Beyonce tour in the US all highlighting women's growing financial heft - perhaps having more money simply helps fund more Swiftie outings.
Either way, from a business point of view, Canberra businesses believe there is a market worth catering for. After all, few fandoms are as dedicated as the Taylor Swift one. They will, for example, pay to see a film of the concert that they already have tickets to go to in February because it is a Taylor Swift concert. There is this sense that - for better or worse - they need to support the singer, even if in some instances this means going into protection mode.
"What's interesting about Swifties is that they are extremely dedicated to Taylor Swift, but they can also be extremely, what we call, problematic to anyone they see as a threat to Taylor Swift," ANU Research School of Management senior lecturer Toni Eager said.
"We had the same thing with Britney Spears, back in the day. But it's more visible these days because of social media. And it's increasingly being normalised - these problematic attack type of behaviours that the fans can engage in."
There is a spectrum, of course.
Dr Eager said behaviour that is deemed physically intrusive - for example, filming a "threat" that comes in the form of a boyfriend fans disapprove of or even the celebrity themselves while they are out shopping - is often policed by the fandom. That is seen as a breach of privacy.
But a break-up, or even a relationship that the fandom disapproves of - such as Taylor Swift's recent one with 1975 singer Matt Healy - will be criticised at length and trolled online.
It doesn't have to be everyone, Dr Eager said. But there is a complacency or acceptance of other community members doing it.
"That piling on of people like Matt Healy, that becomes sort of normalised within the community. The whole community decides he's a bad person and he needs to go away," Dr Eager said.
"And that's confined to them attacking him on social media. The community wouldn't agree to someone attacking him in person, like yelling at him in person, but it's OK to attack him on Twitter."
Rightly or wrongly though, it is an example of how this fandom does yield incredible power - whether that is shown with the problematic, trolling on social media, or the purchasing power they can bring to a business that targets the market.
But where does it all come from?
It comes down to parasocial relationships - one-sided relationships where one party extends emotional energy, interest and time, in the other. And when it comes to celebrities, a lot of it's about feeling like they are relatable while also being aspirational.
A key part of this is Swift's music. Yes, she is one of the richest women in the world but she has built a career around songs about relationships and personal life - almost creating these confessionals that make fans feel like they are being let in on these secrets, if not relating to the songs themselves.
This sense of friendship has then been perpetuated through marketing and PR from Swift's side. The biggest of fans have been known to be plucked from the crowd for afterparty events, and even at the premiere of The Eras Tour earlier this week, a "hand-selected" group of die-hard fans were in attendance.
It was at that same event, that Swift sent her fans a message.
"Honestly, the fact this tour was such a grand adventure has everything to do with the ways in which you cared about this tour and about these shows," Swift said.
"I think you'll see that you're absolutely a main character in this film. Because it was your magic and your attention to detail and your sense of humour and the ways that you leaned into what I'm doing and the music I create that made this tour the most fun thing I have ever been a part of in my life."
That's not to say that the singer isn't thankful for the fans but, by sharing this, it also helps perpetuate this idea of friendship, while also creating a hierarchy of fans willing to show just how dedicated they are. How supportive they've been throughout the years.
For some, that means more than a decade of not only showing the singer how much they love her and her music but putting up with the external pressures of whether the music they were listening to was "cool" enough.
There was a time, for the first part of Swift's career, when it wasn't the coolest or most sophisticated music to listen to. There was judgement passed on those who did.
It was in 2014 that Triple J banned Taylor Swift and, in particular, Shake It Off from their annual Hottest 100 countdown - something they often claimed to be the "world's greatest music democracy" - introducing retrospective rules that disqualified it because it was endorsed by KFC. The fast food chain was among several brands, which also included Buzzfeed, and fans using the social media #Tay4Hottest100.
In an official statement - written as a Buzzfeed-style listicle - Triple J said at the time: "We'd prefer it if people voted for the love of music, not the love of cholesterol.
"Taylor Swift got played on triple j a total of 0 times in 2014... Luckily other Australian radio stations picked up the slack and played Shake It Off 13,511 times..."
Interestingly enough, not only does the radio station play Taylor Swift, but according to the now inactive @triplejplays Twitter account, the first time they played the singer on the station - on May 29, 2020 - it was with the song Shake It Off. And the consensus on the tweet's reply thread? It's about time.
People enjoyed listening to Swift. People still enjoy listening to Swift. And if that means doing that while watching The Eras Tour at 4am, so be it.
And let's face it - you won't be the only one, especially if you're in Canberra - the home of the ultimate Australian Swiftie.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: