Monday, July 15, 2024

She’s a beloved blonde pop star known as T.S., and he’s a handsome NFL player with a popular podcast, referred to as T.K. Together, they have become America’s favorite celebrity couple, combining the nation’s obsession with pop stars and athletes. This is the story of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce, the reigning prince and princess of American pop culture. However, it is also the plot of a recent erotic fan fiction work that has faced criticism from readers, especially fans of Ms. Swift, who view it as an invasion of privacy.

In a now-deleted TikTok video still available on her Facebook page, independent romance author Ivy Smoak announced the release of a short e-book. She claims to have written the novel in just three days after receiving requests from readers for a “spicy” romance inspired by the relationship between Ms. Swift and Mr. Kelce. The book, titled “Roughing the Princess,” features a “pop star princess,” a “football superstar,” a “sassy heroine,” and a “secret relationship,” according to the trailer.

On September 29, shortly after Ms. Swift’s first appearance at a Kansas City Chiefs game, “Roughing the Princess” was published on Kindle’s Direct Publishing platform. It was available for purchase on any Kindle device and could be downloaded for free by Kindle Unlimited subscribers. The e-book cover portrays a cartoon image of a blonde pop star from behind, holding a microphone while wearing a red football jersey with the number 69. Although the book claims to be “inspired by” the real-life romance of Ms. Swift and Mr. Kelce and includes a disclaimer about any resemblance to actual persons or events being coincidental, many readers felt that the attempt at “shipping” the couple was too close to reality. They expressed their disapproval on platforms like Twitter, TikTok, and GoodReads, denouncing it as inappropriate X-rated fan fiction.

Some readers found the book “Roughing the Princess” to be unsettling and almost creepy, as it closely mirrors the biographies and romance of Mr. Kelce and Ms. Swift. The book’s graphic sex scenes further fueled feelings of voyeurism, leaving readers feeling like they had violated their favorite pop star’s privacy by merely reading the book. Devoted fans of Ms. Swift felt deceived and disgusted.

While the e-book “Roughing the Princess” was swiftly removed from Amazon, the cover was still visible on Barnes & Noble’s website as of Wednesday morning. BookTok enthusiasts, the avid reader community on TikTok, make a clear distinction between books loosely based on real people and “real person fiction,” a subgenre of fan fiction where amateur authors create unauthorized fictional stories involving real individuals. Many on BookTok felt that “Roughing the Princess,” with its direct quotes from Mr. Kelce’s interviews and podcasts and its resemblance to the actual lives of Ms. Swift and Mr. Kelce, read more like “real person fiction” rather than an “inspired by” story. This, combined with the explicit content, made readers uncomfortable.

Readers who came across “Roughing the Princess” on TikTok and Twitter expressed their disappointment, feeling that it was a mere attempt to profit from a gimmick. They contrasted it with books like “The Playlist” by Morgan Elizabeth, which exemplifies a “spicy romance” inspired by Ms. Swift without explicitly drawing from her personal life.

Following its online publication, “Roughing the Princess” was swiftly removed from Amazon, and any mention of it was deleted from Ms. Smoak’s social media platforms. The reasons behind this decision are unclear, whether it was due to reader feedback or potential legal and copyright concerns.

Some BookTok users believe that Ms. Smoak should have taken responsibility for the release of “Roughing the Princess” and issued an apology instead of erasing any evidence of its existence from her social media. They feel that she should have acknowledged her mistake and taken time to reflect on appropriate writing choices in the future.

This is not the first time Ms. Swift’s love life has become the subject of fan fiction, particularly in regards to her close friendship with model Karlie Kloss. However, many fans felt that “Roughing the Princess” crossed a line by incorporating explicit conversations and sex scenes involving characters closely resembling Mr. Kelce and Ms. Swift. Ms. Swift has consistently expressed her disliking towards speculation about her love life.

Fans also pointed out that while fan fiction is typically free and either involves fictional characters or emphasizes the fictional element when writing about real people, “Roughing the Princess” was being sold for $6.99. This aspect added to the discomfort and criticism surrounding the book.

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