Jake Gyllenhaal on Swifties: Anger and Divisiveness Can Be Life-Threatening

He's asking the philosophical questions

American actor Jake Gyllenhaal at the 78 Venice International Film Festival 2021. The Lost Daughter ...
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All Too Hell

If you had a pulse in November of last year, you were aware of the fact that Taylor Swift re-released her album Red and included on it a 10-minute version of her song “All Too Well.” You were also aware of the fact that “All Too Well” is allegedly about Jake Gyllenhaal. Specifically, it is about the fact that he is a bad boyfriend who, if you’re a devoted Swiftie, deserves the death penalty.

Until now, Gyllenhaal has remained silent about the song that made him turn off his Instagram comments. But now he is promoting his new movie Ambulance (a Michael Bay flick about two bank robbers driving an ambulance, I think), and he actually has to talk about things he presumably does not want to talk about.

In a new profile from Esquire, the Donnie Darko actor finally broke his silence on “All Too Well.” “It has nothing to do with me. It’s about her relationship with her fans…. It is her expression. Artists tap into personal experiences for inspiration, and I don’t begrudge anyone that.” Pretty good line! The only problem is that he keeps talking after that, and everything goes off the rails.

“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 said. Okay, okay sure. It was pretty whack when people were commenting scarf emojis on his post about the death of Stephen Sondheim. What else do you have to say, Jake?

“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.” This is where he loses me, and it’s possible that he too has lost the point he’s trying to make.

Sullivan then asks him if his life had been threatened, it had not been. But he does attempt to make his point more clear. “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.” Alright, peace and love, brother. I wonder what kind of broader divisiveness he’s talking about here. Politics? Vaccines? Crash winning Best Picture over Brokeback Mountain? We’ll never know.

One thing we do know is whether or not Gyllenhaal has given Red (Taylor’s Version) a spin. “No,” he said. Honestly, fair.