Was Calvin Harris’ outburst at his ex Taylor Swift real or just a PR stunt?

The Scottish DJ blew up at the pop singer on Twitter last week. Did he throw a monkey wrench into Swift’s carefully curated public image, or is he part of the game?

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2016, 11:02am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2016, 12:25pm

Calvin Harris’ flurry of Taylor Swift-centric tweets last week was a glorious sight to behold, if only because it’s always entertaining to see a celebrity go off script. And with Harris calling out his ex-girlfriend’s team for making him look bad – and the singer herself for trying to “bury” her nemesis Katy Perry – it certainly looked like he was breaking all the rules in Swift’s carefully orchestrated world.

Or was he?

Though Swift has dated several famous stars, it’s extremely rare that they ever have a negative thing to say about her. Harris changed that last week after TMZ and People confirmed Swift actually wrote Harris’ hit summer song, This is What You Came For, under the pseudonym “Nils Sjoberg”. Apparently annoyed that Swift’s team tried to make it look like she was the brains behind the operation, Harris confirmed she wrote the track, but shot back on Twitter that “I wrote the music, produced the song, arranged it and cut the vocals though.”

Then he went further: “Hurtful to me at this point that she and her team would go so far out of their way to try and make me look bad at this stage though.”

Then he took a shot at her new boyfriend, actor Tom Hiddleston: “I figure if you’re happy in your new relationship you should focus on that instead of trying to tear your [ex-boyfriend] down for something to do.”

Then he threw down the gauntlet: “I know you’re off tour and you need someone new to try and bury like Katy [Perry] but I’m not that guy, sorry. I won’t allow it.”

Swift is such an image-control pro that it is extremely unusual for anyone in her universe to go rogue – especially about sensitive topics like her reported feud with Perry, the assumed target of Swift’s smash Bad Blood.

With the Bad Blood fiasco, Perry merely tweeted, “Watch out for the Regina George in sheep’s clothing,” a hint that Swift was more of a mean girl than she appeared. This week, Perry threw some more covert shade, tweeting, “Time, the ultimate truth teller.”

Twitter reaction to Calvin Harris’ rant

Anyway, this anti-Swift outspokenness is so rare that you may wonder: could Harris’ Twitter rant be as calculated as everything in Swift’s world tends to be? After all, we’re talking about a star who consistently thinks 100 steps ahead about her career and image. Is it possible she or her team suspected that Harris would react so strongly, driving even more publicity for the song?

In the aftermath of Harris’ tweets, This is What You Came For jumped up several spots to the No 2 song on iTunes and remains near the top of the charts, now sitting at No 3. Given that Swift is the writer, she also benefits financially.

It’s also a turnaround for Harris, who tried to speak out shortly after they broke up, when he told fans on Instagram that Swift “controlled the media” during the split. However, the comments were quickly deleted.

That was more in tune with Swift’s other exes, even when they’re thrust into the spotlight when she hints that her songs are about them. In the past, they deflected questions (Jake Gyllenhaal) or possibly voiced unhappiness through their own songs (Harry Styles and One Direction’s Perfect).

John Mayer briefly spoke up when he told Rolling Stone in 2012 he was “humiliated” after Swift allegedly wrote the scathing “Dear John” about their relationship, and called it “a really lousy thing for her to do”. But Swift shut that down via her own interview a few months later: “How presumptuous! I never disclose who my songs are about,” she told Glamour.

Naturally, it’s unlikely we’ll get answers about the Harris tweet debacle. Almost everything in the Swift universe is shrouded in confusion these days, as observers wonder about her obsessively paparazzi-documented relationship with Hiddleston. By now, many assume it’s a PR stunt or performance art.

It wasn’t helped by Hiddleston’s awkward interview with the Hollywood Reporter last week, as he denied their relationship was for publicity, and made sure to use his famous girlfriend’s first and last name so everyone would know he was talking about: “The truth is that Taylor Swift and I are together, and we’re very happy.”