Yesterday, I downloaded and installed the the American Express Unstaged Taylor Swift Blank Space Experience App. Today, I emerged, several hours of game play later, a changed woman.
The American Express Unstaged Taylor Swift Blank Space Experience is a supplement to Swift's "Blank Space" music video, and yes, that is the whole damn name. The app contains the music video itself, some behind-the-scenes videos, a link to purchase the 1989 album, and some tour deets. But that's not why we're here. We're here for The Experience, the interactive music video/scavenger hunt. This is the story of how I started out searching for 41 collectible items, and found myself.
The scavenger hunt actually takes place inside the "Blank Space" video, and the first eight minutes of gameplay was an absolute nightmare. Like a fresh-born babe, I felt lost and alone. I had been dropped in the lobby of that magnificent mansion, only to find Taylor awaiting her beau. I tried reaching out—but when he arrived, there was no stopping them. They raced up the stairs and into the next room. And all I could do was follow.
The two flowed right through the dining hall, past that beautiful spread.
Suddenly they're in another room and aw, she's painting a portrait of him. And he's posing? For a portrait that's already been painted? Ah, young love.
Then I accidentally tapped on the wrong door, entering the wrong room. I would go on to make the same mistake approximately 1.45 million more times. And each time I hated myself a little bit more.
NO I DID NOT WANT TO COME BACK HERE. Wait, who the fuck is this?! That butler is eating the food! THAT'S NOT YOUR FOOD BUTLER. Taylor, do you know your lessers are eating the royal foodstuffs!? Taylor, wait up! I have something really important to tell you!
Hang on. Let's see what's behind that really nice red curtainnnohmygod.
Should I tell that hot dude about this? That would be the right thing to do, right? At least warn him of his impending doom? Maybe I'll find them in the next room.
YO WHO THE FUCK IS THIS?! Taylor's gardener just broke in and is writing love notes in her diary. Who are these men she surrounds herself with?
Oh Taylor, thank god I found you. We have to talk. Oh, excuse me, I'm sorry.
Oh. This is clearly not a good time. Should I come back or…
Listen, I don't mean to be all up in your business and stuff, but—
Okay then. Shit just got real. Ya'll need some space. Goddammit, I am so lost in this giant mansion, where the fuck am I? Lol, this guy gets it.
Oh look, a diary of Taylor's true loves. I wonder who they could be?
Ha. Cats. Yeah.
Wait, hot dude, where are you going?
Listen I am happy for you that you're getting out safe and sound, but I am also trying to escape, so maybe we could carpool or something? Save some gas while we save our ass(es)? Wait.
NO, COME BACK.
PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME HERE.
Now, this whole Experience app might all seem like fun and games, but it's actually very stressful. There is a time limit—each session lasts as long as the song does, and with every new session you start again from the top in the lobby, which is as frustrating as a game on a free app could be. You cannot pause the song, though you can mute it, I suppose. Still, I must have listened to this song 40 or 50 times only to have found all but three items in the scavenger hunt.
I am stuck at 38.
I cannot get past 38 collectibles. I know I am close. I can feel it. I incessantly review the items I have found, praying that there may be some kind of clue as to the remaining three. I have wandered about the house aimlessly, cutting in and out of Taylor's love and loss story. I have repeatedly tapped my screen indiscriminately—there is not one square millimeter untouched by my index finger—desperately hoping that something ANYTHING new will pop up—even if by accident. Every single time I accidentally click on an item I have already found, it's an exasperating reminder of my sheer inability to find something new in the beautiful mansion in which I am imprisoned.
Sure, I managed to find some sweet items. Like the name Olivia (Taylor's cat) carved into a chair. And a television that plays "Track 3"—an allusion to that one time iTunes accidentally released that eight-second track of white noise under Taylor Swift's name and it shot to the top of the charts. BUT WHAT USE IS THAT IF I CAN'T FIND THE LAST THREE ITEMS?! PLEASE, TAYLOR, HELP ME. IS ONE OF THEM A VIBRATOR? ARE ALL OF THEM VIBRATORS? IT'S OKAY IF THEY ARE, I'M NOT JUDGING YOU, I JUST NEED TO GET THEM.
For once in my life, I regret not being a Taylor Swift fan. Maybe if I had a more intimate, more faithful knowledge of her, if only I was a true believer—a fan for whom she made the 360 Experience in the first place, instead of a mere observer trapped outside her glass case of emotion—I would be able to read into the smallest of details and pry out another collectible. Something, anything. I feel so hopeless. And with everyone in the game/video—Taylor, the beau, the gardener, the butler, the pianist/caretaker—continuing on, completely unaffected and oblivious to my internal torture, I feel completely and utterly alone.
But then I realized, what if there are only 38 items total? What if those remaining three items don't actually exist, but serve to remind us of the things we will never attain, forcing us to accept that we cannot truly have it all? Perhaps those three missing items stand for some potential we have in us and will never be able to find outside of ourselves. Maybe, just maybe, those three things are "Live," "Laugh," and "Love."
Or maybe I just need to go back in that fucking nightmare mansion and just find those fucking vibrators.
Images via Unstaged.