Taylor Swift didn’t attend the 2017 MTV VMAs, but she somehow managed to steal the show anyway. As promised, the singer debuted her “Look What You Made Me Do” music video at Sunday’s ceremony (hosted by her sometimes rival Katy Perry), and like the song itself, it sends a pretty strong message.
In the vid, Swift takes on several different personas, alternately lounging in a bathtub full of diamonds, wielding a baseball bat, cracking a dominatrix whip, sitting in a throne atop a flight of stairs crawling with snakes, and straddling a motorcycle. At one point, she’s joined by a group of backup dancers wearing “I <3 T.S.” shirts — no doubt a reference to ex-BF Tom Hiddleston’s tank top at her Fourth of July party a few years ago. And toward the end of the video, her former selves — the Taylor Swifts from past music videos and awards shows — appear next to her in front of a plane emblazoned with the word “Reputation.” One of them (a zombie version of her “Out of the Woods” self) snipes at her “You Belong With Me” self, “Stop making that surprised face. It’s SO annoying.”
There are also multiple references to her feud with Kanye West. When her “Look What You Made Me Do” self asks, “What’s wrong with that b*tch?,” her “Out of the Woods” self snaps back, “Don’t call me that!” Another version of Swift jokes about “getting receipts” — a clear reference to the Kim Kardashian Snapchat debacle of last year — as her 2009 VMAs self pipes in, “I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative.”
Speaking of narratives, Swift takes a few knowing shots at the narrative surrounding her public image, with various versions of her old selves quipping, “Oh, stop acting like you’re all nice — you are so fake,” and “Oh, there she goes, playing the victim, again.”
Of course, fans and critics alike were buzzing about the video even before it premiered. Swift teased the visuals on Instagram this past Friday, sparking a flurry of predictions and reactions — not all of which were good.
Many people thought one image, in particular, looked similar to a scene from Beyoncé’s “Formation.” Director Joseph Kahn — who was also behind Swift’s “Bad Blood” and “Blank Space” videos (among others) — took to Twitter to address the criticism on Friday.
“I’ve worked with Beyoncé a few times. She’s an amazing person. The #LWYMMDvideo is not in her art space. Love and respect to Bey,” he tweeted. “Also there’s something to that ‘formation’ shot I painted out and you haven’t seen yet. Stay tuned Sunday :).”
Swift released “Look What You Made Me Do” on Thursday, after three days of teasing her new album in a series of cryptic snake videos on social media. Reputation, her first album since 2014’s 1989, is set to drop in November.
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(Photo via Taylor Swift/YouTube)