Taylor Swift knows you’ve been making fun of her. Here’s how her new video responds. – Washington Post

 In Entertainment
The music video for Taylor Swift’s new single “Look What You Made Me Do” premiered at the 2017 VMAs. It’s a self-deprecating look at how people make fun of her, peppered with many references to her life. (Nicki DeMarco/The Washington Post)

Taylor Swift forgets nothing.

That’s one lesson from her music video — which debuted Sunday during the MTV VMA show — for her new single, “Look What You Made Me Do.” The fiery song, in which Swift declares her former self “dead,” dropped Thursday night, and quickly shattered streaming records.

Swift has not explained the meaning behind the tune (Is it a parody? Is she very serious?) and according to Instagram, she has no plans to do so: “There will be no further explanation. There will just be reputation,” she wrote, name-checking the title of her sixth studio album that will be released in November.

So allow us — and the rest of the Internet — to translate. Swift is aware that her reputation took a hit last year after well-publicized feuds with her ex-boyfriend DJ Calvin Harris and her nemeses, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, along with a much-mocked relationship with actor Tom Hiddleston. Even her tweet about the Women’s March earned backlash.

This year, she withdrew from the spotlight almost completely. And it looks like she has been taking careful notes about every single insult hurled her way and is using her new video to respond — par for the course, given her love of vengeance and defending herself against critics. She even says as much in the song, as she’s consumed with how to get back at her enemies: “The world moves on, another day, another drama, drama/But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma.”

Here are all of the criticisms she calls out in the video:

1) Her reputation 

The video kicks off with this not-so-subtle visual gem, a tombstone that reads “Here lies Taylor Swift’s reputation.” Yeah, she knows what you’ve been saying about her.

Then, zombie Swift erupts from the ground. “I don’t like your little games, don’t like your tilted stage/The role you made me play of the fool, no, I don’t like you,” she sings — this may or may not be a reference to West’s tilted stage on his latest tour.


(YouTube video still)

2) The snake references

Last summer on Snapchat, Kardashian released a phone call recording of Swift and West discussing West’s controversial song “Famous,” and the Internet branded Swift a “snake” — because earlier, Swift implied she was caught off guard when she was mentioned in the track. So, Swift included snakes in her video, from a snake necklace to a snake serving her tea.

3) Katy Perry

Katy Perry, who hosted the VMAs, spent a lot of time this summer discussing her years-long feud with Swift. It’s a tired subject, so Swift didn’t even bother to go there — except possibly with a shot of her in the video dressed as a Perry look-alike, holding a Grammy. The important background here is that Swift has 10 Grammys. Perry has zero.

4) Her squad

Swift helped popularize the idea of #squadgoals with her army of famous friends, bolstered by events like her celebrity-packed July 4 party with perfectly curated Instagram photos. In the video, Swift assumes the role of some kind of cult leader in front of lots of mindless drone mannequins as the word “SQUAD” is displayed on video screens.


(YouTube video still)

5) That “I Heart T.S.” tank top

This feels like it happened 1,000 years ago, but last summer, Swift embarked on a much-photographed relationship with Tom Hiddleston. This included an incident where Hiddleston wore an “I Heart T.S.” tank top in the ocean and became a social media laughingstock. According to a GQ profile, the mockery still haunts him. (He said he wore it as a joke.) Of course, in the video, Swift’s dancers rip off their jackets to reveal … well, this:

6) Her “surprise” face

Wow, she’s been holding this one in for a while. Even back in her country music days, people made fun of Swift for looking shocked when she won awards … because she won all the awards. In the video, as Swift declares that the “old Taylor” is “dead,” she dresses up as several of her former music video characters. After the song finishes, 14 Taylor clones gather together and take a bow.

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