Did you think she would just sit back quietly?
In the creepy music video for her new biting single “Look What You Made Me Do,” Taylor Swift turns the tables on her haters by mocking all the very specific hits her reputation has taken over her entire career.
1. She’s a lying snake that can’t be trusted.
In several scenes, Swift — dripping in snake jewels — is seen sitting on a throne with a legion of snakes slithering around her. The arm of her throne and columns inside the room have the words “ET TU BRUTE” etched onto them.
Last summer, Swift’s haters flooded her social media pages with the snake emoji after Kim Kardashian West characterized the singer as the reptile. “Wait it’s legit National Snake Day?!?!?They have holidays for everybody, I mean everything these days!” the Keeping Up with the Kardashians reality star tweeted shortly before leaking a phone call between her husband, Kanye West, and Swift that she claimed proved Swift approved of the rapper’s “Famous” lyrics.
The “Out of the Woods” singer later asserted that West, 40, never told her he was going to call her “that bitch” in the song. “You don’t get to control someone’s emotional response to being called ‘that bitch’ in front of the entire world,” she wrote. “He promised to play the song for me, but he never did.”
Swift and West have had a complicated relationship since he interrupted her VMAs acceptance speech in 2009.
2. She’s a controlling man-eater.
Perhaps the most enduring reputation Swift has had since kicking off her career is that she’s a boy-crazy revenge seeker.
In 2013, she became a punchline at the Golden Globes when hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler joked that Swift should “stay away from Michael J. Fox’s son” and use “some ‘me time’ to learn about herself.” Swift later told Vanity Fair Katie Couric was one of her “favorite people” because she taught her Madeleine Albright’s quote: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
The star faces this characterization head-on at several points in the music video. In one scene, she swings a baseball bat while rocking a sweatshirt with a tiger and the words “BLIND FOR LOVE” on it.
During her high-profile relationship with actor Tom Hiddleston, the stars were mercilessly mocked after he was photographed wearing an “I ❤ TS” tank top at her annual Fourth of July bash. Her all-male backup dancers in the music video are wearing shirts with the same phrase.
3. She collects friends who fall into very specific categories (think models).
Next up in the video is Swift in control at “Squad U,” where she is mass-producing and whipping thin, bot-like women into shape. The singer has often been criticized for being a fake feminist and seemingly only making friends with Victoria’s Secret models.
“To be honest, and this will probably get me in trouble … I don’t see anybody in any sort of squad that has a normal body,” fellow singer Demi Lovato previously told Glamour. “It’s kind of this false image of what people should look like. And what they should be like, and it’s not real. I think that having a song and a video about tearing Katy Perry down, that’s not women’s empowerment.”
4. She’s disingenuous.
For a string of awards shows earlier in her career, Swift had a signature “shocked” face after picking up award after award, which earned her backlash from critics who said her response was fake.
“Swift had already won two awards when she took her third of the evening: the Artist of the Year honor,” wrote the Washington Post after the 2011 American Music Awards. “Really, it shouldn’t have been a huge surprise. But when Swift’s name was announced, you would have thought that someone had just told the singer the Earth is square, Thanksgiving has been postponed until March and the sky and the ground have now officially switched places.”
In the last 30 seconds of the music video, “dead Taylor” tells a younger version of herself to “Stop making that surprise face. It’s so annoying!” Adds the “Shake It Off” Taylor: “Yeah, you can’t possibly be that surprised all the time.”
The star — who notably stopped showing surprise or shock while winning awards in recent years — previously responded to the controversy by telling Nightline she wasn’t faking it.
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“People make so much fun of me for that,” she said in 2012. “I just, I don’t know. It’s like, if you win an award, isn’t that crazy? How do you sit there and be like, ‘Oh, another Grammy. I guess I’m gonna get that now?”
5. She’s always the victim.
Between her feuds with Perry and West and a tricky breakup with ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris, Swift has earned a reputation of always playing the victim. In fact, it remained one of the biggest criticisms after she released her new single (“Taylor Swift Hasn’t Shed Her Old Skin. She’s Still Playing the Victim,” read one headline).
Naysayers claim the star fans the flames of her own fights and manipulates people in her life to create fodder for her hit songs.
“Hurtful to me at this point that her and her team would go so far out of their way to try and make ME look bad at this stage though,” tweeted Harris last summer after it was revealed Swift co-wrote their hit song, “This Is What You Came For.” (There is a grave stone with the name Nils Sjoberg — the pen name Swift used for the song — in one of the graveyard scenes).
“I figure if you’re happy in your new relationship you should focus on that instead of trying to tear your ex bf down for something to do,” he continued. “I know you’re off tour and you need someone new to try and bury like Katy ETC but I’m not that guy, sorry. I won’t allow it.”
In Swift’s music video, the Red-era Taylor tells an even younger version of herself to “stop acting like you’re all nice” while yet another says, “There she goes playing the victim again.”