Reputation, Taylor Swift’s new album, will be released on November 10th. As is the case with music, she released a lyric video of a single from that album titled ‘Look What You Made Me Do.’ A few days later, the song’s music video debuted at the MTV Music Awards.
The video and the music are unlike anything she has released before. It is darker, cynical and biting. Many articles and videos have been made trying to explain what the subtle clues in her video are about; or rather, who they are about. This article will not do that. It is a purely about Taylor and this music video.
Fade In, to an aerial view of a post-apocalyptic world. There are sparrows flying about and ‘TS’ spelt on the floor. The camera then shows a gravestone with the writing ‘Here Lies Taylor Swift’s Reputation,’ then her digging herself out of her grave, zombified, then buries a passed persona. Fitting, since seeing that this new album (and song) is a rebirth of sorts. Just like the phoenix, she arises out of her ashes, smarter and harder…in the nick of time.
Cut to a scene with her in a bathtub, her posture in the grave same as the one here, diamonds and jewellery filled to the brim. It’s not the first time we will see such excess in the video. In one scene, she crashes a gold-plated Bugatti and you see her bling flying all over the place, her Grammy in hand, the paparazzi snapping photos. I can already see the headline; ‘America’s Sweetheart Taylor Crashes and Burns.’ But she is indifferent as she strikes a pose. That is what this video is all about: Razing everything to the ground.
‘Et tu brute’ is also seen in the video, on her throne and pillars, snakes surrounding her and one even pouring tea for Taylor. Again, more references to the feud that had plagued Taylor and her squad last year. But a true turning point I thought for Taylor was the scene with countless versions of herself trying to fight and climb their way to the top. It has all the personas she crafted, but it’s not about them, as this video clearly shows. It’s about HER, Taylor Swift, reborn, standing atop all of her previous selves. This time she is not the victim. Chilling.
The scene I loved the most was the final scene. A jet is in the background with the word ‘Reputation’ spray-painted on it and every one of her personas; from the You Belong With Me Girl-next-door t-shirt era to the Grammy Award-winning era and more, standing in front of it, arguing and mocking one another.
“I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative,” Grammy Taylor says at the end. Her haters would definitely dislike that. So instead of excluding herself from this narrative, she did something else: she created her own narrative by recreating herself.
She really did rise up from the dead. But why are we surprised? She does it all the time. I, for one, am excited by this new look and sound. Can’t wait!
Music Video: 9/10