Ms. Fluffle Stilt Skins did what she could, but it seems her plaintive mews asking Taylor Swift fans to “calm down and stop cyber bullying” Jake Gyllenhaal fell on deaf ears. And if they won’t listen to a cat, it sounds like the only person they might take direction from is Taylor herself. That’s kind of what Jake hinted at in a new profile in Esquire where he spoke for the first time about being targeted by Swifties who are apparently still irate with him for allegedly leaving Taylor on read after their brief but stunt-filled relationship which ended back in 2010. Taylor retaliated by writing her 2012 hit song All Too Well then threw kerosene on the flames when she released a 10-minute version which she included on her re-recorded album Red (Taylor’s Version), causing Swifties to run roughshod all up in his Instagram comments anew.
According to Esquire, the nail in the coffin containing Jake’s IG comments was the accompanying music video for All Too Well (Taylor’s Version, which Taylor directed herself.
Instantly, Gyllenhaal became the Internet’s punching bag. Though the ire was mostly of the celebrity-schadenfreude sort, it’s hard to overstate its volume and pitch. If anyone came to his defense, their message was lost in the overwhelming anti-Jake sentiment that flooded the comments of not just his Instagram account but also Maggie’s and even Jamie Lee Curtis’s. Entertainment media feasted for weeks. Gyllenhaal had never been in the press as much as he was in the weeks after the song’s release. Not even close.
JLC is Jake’s Godmother and he and his girlfriend Jeanne Cadieu lived in her guest house at the beginning of the pandemic. Without going into detail, Jake said he doesn’t begrudge any artist that taps “into personal experiences for inspiration,” before tip-toeing this close to calling Taylor out for not calling on her fans to “be civil and not allow for cyberbullying.” But instead of pulling out that fucking red scarf from under his shirt and torching it with a flamethrower, he finished with some mumbo jumbo about it being a “deeper philosophical question.” I’m like no Jake, it’s not. This is war. And you have Ms. Fluffle Stilt Skins as your Major General. USE HER. Time for Global Nermal Nuclear War. That’s right, Jake needs to bring Garfield and all his little friends in on this too.
“It has nothing to do with me. It’s about her relationship with her fans,” he says when I bring it up. “It is her expression. Artists tap into personal experiences for inspiration, and I don’t begrudge anyone that.” Still, I offer, hasn’t the past month been hard on him? He says it has not. What about turning off his Instagram comments? Doesn’t that suggest the situation has affected his life, even if only as an inconvenience?
Here he starts speaking in broader terms. “At some point, I think it’s important when supporters get unruly that we feel a responsibility to have them be civil and not allow for cyberbullying in one’s name,” he says. He falls silent, then pensive. “That begs for a deeper philosophical question. Not about any individual, per se, but a conversation that allows us to examine how we can—or should, even—take responsibility for what we put into the world, our contributions into the world. How do we provoke a conversation? We see that in politics. There’s anger and divisiveness, and it’s literally life-threatening in the extreme.” I ask if his life has been threatened recently; he says no, that’s not what he’s suggesting. “My question is: Is this our future? Is anger and divisiveness our future? Or can we be empowered and empower others while simultaneously putting empathy and civility into the dominant conversation? That’s the discussion we should be having.” I then ask if he thinks such empowerment is achievable. “I think it is possible, yes. Of course. But I think many things are possible.” He shrugs, his hands raised in the air as if to convey, What more is there to say? Has he listened to the album? “No.”
How do we provoke conversation? Oh, I don’t know. How about saying something mildly rude about her on Twitter. That usually provokes a conversation. A tedious one, to be sure, but it’s a start. Jake’s IG comments are still turned off and so are Taylor’s at the moment. In fact, she hasn’t posted anything new on IG since late December when she announced that her cat Benjamin is 22 in cat years. So Jake may have won the catfight by actually addressing the situation, but the cat war won’t be over until Dame Judi Dench’s Old Deuteronomy switches allegiances and stands side-by-side with General Fluffle Stilt Skins against the tyranny of Swifties.