The 2017 MTV VMAs promised many moments worth tuning in for, among them performances by some of music’s hottest talents and hosting by Katy Perry. If we’re really being honest, though, no moment was more hotly anticipated than the exclusive world premiere of the video for Taylor Swift’s controversial new single, “Look What You Made Me Do.”
Spoiler alert: It basically broke the internet.
ICYMI, Swift hyped the release of the new single earlier this week when she wiped all of her social media clean. She then began leaving cryptic clues — think snake emoji — hinting at something major to come.
Mere days later, she revealed the lyric video for “Look What You Made Me Do,” along with teaser images from the official vid. To say the single was met with mixed reactions could quite possibly be the understatement of the year.
From being accused of ripping off Beyoncé to waging a personal war against Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West, Swift bore the brunt of much criticism following the single’s debut. However, hardcore Swifties quickly came to the star’s defense, pointing out that artists are always evolving.
So, naturally, there was a lot riding on the world premiere of the full-length “Look What You Made Me Do” video. Would Swift outright throw shade in the direction of the Wests? Would she take jabs at Katy Perry, as some suspected?
As it turns out, everything is still up for interpretation. This much we know for sure: the video ushers in a new, darker era for the saccharine country-turned-pop star the world once knew.
The dark and sharply drawn video starts with Swift crawling out of grave with a tombstone reading, “Here Lies Taylor Swift’s Reputation” — a clear nod to the wreckage of the pop star’s once spotless image that was deeply tarnished following major fallout with West and Kardashian West last year.
Myriad visages of Swift unfold as the song progresses. We see Swift in a bathtub filled with diamonds. We see her in a Southern gothic-style mansion surrounded by dancers wearing “I [heart] T.S.” crop tops. We see her wreck a car as the paparazzi look on.
If there are coded revenge messages embedded in the video, they’re muddled at best. What comes through loud and clear, though, is Swift parodying herself. The entire video is a satirical study of her image and the way it is perceived by the media and the outside world at large.
This is made all the more clear in the video’s clever closing scene, which features a row of cliché Swift personas: from the aw-shucks country singer to the version of herself accepting an award and dropping the now-infamous “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative” line.
The new Taylor Swift might be a tad tone-deaf, but she’s self-aware too.