Thursday, January 26, 2023

Taylor Swift and Theodora Augusta


Lots of people complaining the last little while about the Taylor Swift concert and the role of Ticketmaster in distributing tickets for her first live appearance since before the outbreak of COVID-19.  Lots of people blamed Ticketmaster and its near-monopoly position in the live entertainment business for their inability to get tickets.  Earlier this week a high-ranking officer of Ticketmaster was summoned before a Congressional committee to justify the company’s role in the fiasco.  Ticketmaster was sarcastically congratulated for bringing together the two parties to work on a common solution for a common problem.

The radio report I heard today also noted that Taylor Swift had 11 costume changes in the course of the show.  

Maybe it was this, or the idea that Taylor Swift was the one unifying factor in the public life in the Disunited States, but I immediately thought of Theodora, empress to Justinian in the mid-6th century. 

Theodora was a scandalous figure or a giant among Roman rulers, take your pick.  She started out poor and did many low-class jobs until her looks got her into prostitution and acting.  She drew attention from the kind of rich and important men who wanted a really striking courtesan or mistress. The man who got Theodora (or vice-versa) was Justinian, part of a nascent military dynasty. He was so enamored of her that he married her, despite laws that supposedly forbade a senator (J) from marrying a prostitute.  When Justinian became emperor, Theodora became a major influence on him.

We have no idea what her stage costumes looked like in her acting days, but we get an idea of her tastes from a famous mosaic in Ravenna, Italy.

Next, Taylor Swift.  Not likely to end up as empress, but her ability to shake up the dysfunctional American Congress is remarkable. I wonder if actor Theodora had some really skimpy bejeweled outfits,  11 or more, and that was enough to get the rich inhabitants of Constantinople charged up.                                                             

There's a certain fantasy element to the Taylor Swift-Ticketmaster discussion,  If Ticketmaster had done its job perfectly and fairly, how many fans  would have been left out?  And how would they have reacted? With sweet reason?


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