Even when Taylor Swift is not at the VMA’s, she still manages to pull off a show-stopping performance. Taylor has taken her destroyed reputation and all the shade that’s been thrown at her over the last year and turned it into art. “Look What You Made Me Do” was played at the VMA’s and posted on Sunday night, August 27, and surpassed Adele’s music video for “Hello” to become the YouTube video with the most views within 24 hours with over 40 million views. Whether you like the song or not, it’s hard to deny the talent and creative genius that went into the making of this music video. Taylor’s attention to detail in this music video is incredible, and Valley thinks if you can pick up on all of the references, you might just appreciate it a little bit more.
First scene is pretty self-explanatory. We come across a graveyard where Taylor’s reputation has been buried from everything that she was branded with since she took her hiatus. She claws her way out of the ground wearing the dress she wore in the last video she released of her “1989” album, “Out Of The Woods,” showing us that she never really did make it out of the woods. Zombie Taylor is angry and there are a lot of lyrics that point toward Kanye being the object of her anger. One of the graves is marked for Nils Sjoberg, Swift’s pen name she created when she wrote ex-boyfriend, Calvin Harris’, hit song “This Is What You Came For.” She coined this pseudonym to make a point of how male songwriters are never questioned as to whether or not they wrote their songs, whereas the origin of Swift’s songs is constantly called into question. Swift remarks,
“My friend Ed [Sheeran], no one questions whether he writes everything. In the beginning, I liked to think that we were all on the same playing field. And then it became pretty obvious to me that when you have people sort of questioning the validity of a female songwriter.”
The camera shows Zombie Taylor burying 2014 Met Gala Taylor in the grave, marking the end of the last Taylor and who she was before.
The song flashes to Taylor glamorously bathing in a tub of jewels, reminiscent of her “Blank Space” persona, which is the character she plays as homage to what the media has painted her out to be. Swift says,
“Every single article had these descriptions of my personality that were very different from my actual personality. My first reaction was ‘man that’s a bummer, this isn’t fun for me’. But my second reaction ended up being ‘hey, that’s actually an interesting character they’re writing about… like she jets sets around the world, collecting men and she can get any of them but she’s so clingy that they leave and then she cries in her marble bathtub surrounded by pearls.”
From the top view, among the diamonds, you can see one singular dollar bill, the dollar bill she got from David Mueller in her sexual assault case after having been groped at a meet and greet.
The scene changes to a new Taylor sitting on a golden palace throne surrounded by snakes, which quickly became everyone’s favorite nickname for her after the feuds she’s had over the last year with Kimye, Calvin Harris and Katy Perry. People flooded her Instagram comments with snake emojis following these incidents. Carved on the pillars and on the throne is the quote “et tu brute,” a famous quote from “Julius Caesar” when Caesar’s best friend, Brutus, betrays him. Perhaps this is Swift calling out those who have betrayed her over the last year and friends who were close to her that she lost. The scene closes out with a snake pouring Swift a cup of tea as hot as the tea in this video. The scene closes out with her favorite number of 13 snakes. She is surrounded by 12 snakes and she is the 13th.
“Loving him was like driving a new maserati down a dead-end street. Faster than the wind, passionate as sin ended so suddenly.” Could this scene be a reference to her album, “Red,” which she had though won a grammy in 2014? It would make sense since she caused quite the stir when she got excited for thinking she had won when it was actually Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” and maybe Swift believes she should’ve won since she’s clutching onto the Grammy in the video. Perhaps this holds more than one meaning though, when the camera zooms in on the pop star, it actually appears to be a Katy Perry lookalike driving a similar car to the one in the “Waking Up In Vegas” music video. Whether the doppelgänger is donning a leopard coat because of Perry’s famous song, “Roar,” or possibly as a reference to the time when Swift and Perry both sported a leopard coat out on the same night in New York in late 2016 is unknown, but a grammy in her hand might be Taylor’s way of reminding everyone that she has 10 Grammys while Perry has yet to win one.
The narrative of the star being trapped in the a cage is pretty cliché, but that must be what it’s like to have everyone staring at every move you make. In fact, this bird cage looks a little more prison-like and the guards are watching her every move, which could be her way of saying it’s not fun to be in the limelight. Tay has a snake tattoo running up her leg going back to the story of how she was branded a snake after all her controversies.
Next we see Tay mid-heist at Streaming Co. bank vault. Clearly, this is a reference to when she was called greedy after taking her music off of Spotify because they were streaming it for free. The Spotify CEO was amazed that even six million dollars was still not enough for the pop star. Over the years Swift has run into various problems with various streaming services. She and her group of robbers are all wearing cat masks most likely as a tribute to her beloved cats that she’s become so affectionately known to obsess over. Her shirt says “BLIND FOR LOVE” at the bottom due to her continuous reputation as a serial dater.
A dominatrix-style Swift takes form as a dictator of what appears to be some kind of cult. She’s commanding an army of nearly identical mannequins. This is an obvious reference to how Swift’s squad has been bashed for a long time as being anti-feminist with its members being solely comprised of pretty, thin, white models. Anyone in Tay’s squad seems to be in the demographic of high society “it girls” that are so elite that they cannot be touched.
Taylor storms through the door of a Versailles-styled room and she has a group of men jumping up to attend to her diva demands. These men are all styling ‘I ♥ TS’ crop tops, similar to the T-shirt that she gave ex-boyfriend Tom Hiddleston. The media mocked Hiddleston for this as he became known as another one of Swift’s whipped conquests.
“Rep” Taylor stands atop a pile of past Taylor’s old reputations and they’re all desperately trying to claw their way to the top. It’s a kind of evil villain moment for her where she has all the power and all of her characters are in the past. May the old Taylor Rest In Peace because this is when the new Taylor kills off her and every character she played. It’s been speculated that the neon “T” in the background acts as a crucifix and upon which her reputation has been hung.
The end of the video features Taylor making fun of everything that she’s been made fun of for in the past and everything that she’s addressing in LWYMMD. It starts with “You Belong With Me” Taylor having an excited and surprised reaction which the other Taylors ridicule her for, just like she is constantly made fun of in the media because of her surprised reactions when receiving awards.
Zombie Taylor gets called a b*tch and gets immediately angry and defensive just as she reacted to Kanye West when Taylor heard his line “I made that b*tch famous” in his song, “Famous.”
“Fearless” Taylor begins to cry after “Red” Taylor tells her to stop playing innocent and calling her fake. One of the new Taylors chimes in and says, “There she goes playing the victim, again.”
Another new Taylor (in the leopard coat) is seen taking pictures and “getting receipts” and claims she’s going to edit them later, which many believe is a reference to Kim Kardashian editing the Snapchat videos she put out of Taylor agreeing to let Kanye use her name in his song.
It ends with 2009 VMA Taylor saying she would “very much like to be excluded from this narrative”, which is what she wrote on a note in the storm of the Kimye vs TS battle after Kanye released “Famous”, to which all the other Taylors screamed “Oh, SHUT UP.”
All of these Taylors, past and present, argue to show us what it has been like for her- regardless of what she does, she is always immediately criticized for it with no defense.
Whether Taylor is going to continue with this new image is unknown to Valley, but we appreciate the no f*cks given attitude she has about what other people think of her and her reputation. We also appreciate the subtle plugs she put out to PSU in her video. We love you too, Tay. Valley looks forward to hearing the rest of her album “reputation,” which is being released on November 10, 2017. The album, featuring 15 brand new songs, can be preordered today on iTunes for $13.99. Here is the link to the LWYMMD music video. Tell us what you think of it or if you find any other references that we missed on our Twitter, @Valleymag.