Monday, August 28, 2017

Taylor Swift's 'Look What You Made Me Do' Video is Annoying, Self-Important and Joyless

by Staff Writer

Last night at the VMA awards, Taylor Swift premiered the video for her new single, "Look What You Made Me Do", from her forthcoming album Reputation. It seems to be Swift's highest budget video to date, co-produced with Joseph Kahn and featuring a mish-mash of imagery that shows a more mature, fierce and confident Swift. But the video is incoherent, and in the light of her recent controversy involving Kanye West, it comes off as reputation management more than as a self-aware and tongue-in-cheek comment on her public persona like her previous single, "Blank Space".

In the first scene of the video, Swift is seen as a zombie in a graveyard, with a tombstone coming into focus with the words "Here Lies Taylor Swift's Reputation" engraved on it. The implication is that Swift is the victim of the controversies which have somehow killed her reputation, and in the following scenes she is shown to embrace a more snake-like persona, with displays of opulence like her bathtub filled with diamond jewelry, and showing control of the scenes by commanding the various backing dancers that pop up throughout the video.

But whose fault is it really that Swift's repuation has suffered such a hit? Swift seemed to be at the very least misleading about the events surrounding the Kanye West song "Famous", which featured the lyrics "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex"/ Why? I made that bitch famous", as the phone call between West and Swift was released showing some level of agreement to the lyrics. West and his wife, Kim Kardashian, have spoken out about Swift's new single, explaining that she is in a feud with herself because they "don't care". In this light, Taylor calling out West's "tilted stage" in the lyrics of the new single seems petty and unnecessary, and does nothing to improve her reputation.

Swift's new video features an eye-roll-inducing scene where previous incarnations of the pop star are seen climbing over each other to reach towards the elevated "new" Taylor Swift, who embraces her sex-appeal, her snake-like persona and even more elaborate dance routines than she has ever attempted before. These previous Swifts, including the surprise-faced awards recipient, the bespectacled and innocent character from "You Belong to Me", and the swan-dressed (once much more fun and self-effacing) character from "Shake It Off", all return at the end of the video to truly feud with themselves. It is cringe-worthy material, and the bickering results in the "country-star Taylor" persona bursting into fake tears as another version of Swift rolls her eyes. One of the Taylors then cuts in with "I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative," and all of the others tell her to "Shut up!" This is clearly an attempt at self-deprecating humor, but it fails because it comes across as bitter and cynical at a world that wouldn't accept any of those previous Taylors or that ruined them somehow. If the old Taylor is truly dead, the new Taylor, seemingly obsessed with her reputation and cynically playing the marketing machine, is a poor substitute.

Watch the video below and comment with your opinion.