‘I’m Laughing Along’: Taylor Swift Fan From Viral ‘Exile’ Video Thinks It’s Funny Too – Rolling Stone

By CT Jones
When Brisbane local Madison Blackband got ready for bed on Sunday night, she was buzzing from the day’s events, which involved sitting outside of Sydney’s Accor Stadium with two close friends listening to Taylor Swift perform her third night of sold-out shows in Australia. Right before going to sleep, Blackband posted a TikTok of her reaction to hearing “Exile,” a track from Folklore that Swift chose as a surprise song. When she woke up, her phone was flooded with messages. 
“I went on [Twitter] and the first thing that popped up was this video,” Blackband tells Rolling Stone. “And I was like, ‘Oh, it’s happened.’”
The video in question, a two-minute clip that shows Blackband crying out and sobbing when she realizes Swift is playing ‘Exile,’ was meant for her small group of friends and followers on TikTok. “I posted it intending it for like 200 people, not millions,” Blackband says. 
This isn’t the first time a Swiftie has filmed their reactions to hearing the surprise songs — it’s become a popular trend since the pop star began her record breaking Eras Tour in 2023. But in the three days since it was filmed, the clip has taken on a life of its own. In addition to receiving over 10 million views on both TikTok and X (formerly known as Twitter) and inspiring memes and reaction videos, the clip also made Blackband the target of a wild round of accusations and divisive opinions. People said she was being overdramatic, performing for the camera, and should be embarrassed or ashamed for such a public reaction. And even those supposedly on her side attacked her friends in the clip, calling them “snakes” and saying they weren’t supportive enough. For Blackband, a Brisbane-based model who loves attending concerts with her friends, it’s been jarring to have a beautiful personal moment bring out so much negativity from people she doesn’t know. But she does admit — some of the memes are pretty funny. 

“There’s no point letting it upset me. I reacted the way I reacted,” she says. “I know my friends weren’t judging me. That’s just me. I’m just a passionate person. The opinion of people thinking that it’s embarrassing and stuff doesn’t mean anything to me because I never thought it was and I’m not going to think it is now just because someone says I should. I understand why people are laughing at it. I laughed at the video myself once I first watched it back.”
THIS IS TAKING ME OUT I'M SORRY😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/VMDrtHrKVO
girls when they missed exile and haunted NOT once but twice pic.twitter.com/V9uzDRtcJ8
Blackband, who says she’s been a fan of Swift for “as long as she can remember,” shares that the Folklore has a special place in her heart for its inventive take on storytelling. As for “Exile,” it’s not just her favorite Swift song, Blackband calls it her favorite song ever — which is why she says her reaction was so strong. “[Exile] means a lot to me,” she says. “It’s a song I’ve listened to when I needed anything, as a distraction or to keep me focused. It’s like a safety blanket.”
In addition to the video’s wild spread on other social media platforms where Swiftie habits are less well known and understood, much of the speculation over the behind-the-scenes of the video (and the validity of Blackband’s reaction) was fueled by the 20-year-old turning off her comments. But she tells Rolling Stone she restricted comments on her account and didn’t post an explanation because she didn’t feel like she owed anyone anything — especially people who were going out of their way to be rude or demeaning. 

“I turned the comments off, not because I can’t handle what people were saying, but because I just don’t see the point,” Blackband says. “To me, it was meant to be a positive thing and I think people are trying to turn it into a negative thing. I don’t need it to go away or anything because it’s not affecting me. But, I’m just not going to give them the platform to do that on.”

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Even though becoming a meme wasn’t something Blackband intended, she says the most beautiful things to come out of the experience are the messages she’s received from people who know her in real life — friends and family reached out to say her emotion is what they love most about her. And even now, she’s so grateful that she was able to see Swift live and have that moment with her best friends. 
“In the video, obviously, I’m like crying, and you think I’m super upset,” she says. “And at the beginning I was like, ‘Oh no, I’ve lost this song as a surprise song.’ But then I just kept crying because I was like, I can hear it. I’m with my friends. I would rather be in this situation than be in the stadium alone. I was glad I was with the people that knew what the song meant to me. So now, I’m just laughing along.”
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