The Old Taylor is Dead. Again.
Circa 2010, you would have been hard-pressed to find a more passionate Taylor Swift fan than I. Rocking head-to-toe Aeropostale apparel and striking purple braces, I would often curl up on the couch and find myself captivated by one of Swift’s show-stopping music videos. The bright colors, elegant dresses, Taylor’s wild, curly locks, and the myriad of musical instruments never failed to take my breath away.
For so many girls my age, Taylor’s music was a bright spot in a not-so-glamorous coming of age time. How is it, then, that the artist I once found influential I now find eye-roll inducing and simply unlikable? As Swift explicitly states in her newest single, the old Taylor is “dead.” But Taylor’s problem is that in 10 years, she has reinvented herself so many times that there are simply too many “old Taylors” to count, and I am over it.
From “Fearless” to “Red” to now, Taylor has transformed from the sweetheart of country to a pop diva, her Southern roots now unrecognizable in her current music, her signature curls replaced with a chic, straight haircut. Taylor’s metamorphosis encompassed more than just her musical styling; her public persona, once squeaky clean, is now marked by a series of recurring celebrity feuds that are typically and not-so-subtly manifested in her music.
Perhaps most famously, Taylor has had a multi-year conflict with Kanye West, rising to a boil in 2016 when his wife Kim Kardashian posted video evidence of Taylor giving permission for at least parts of West’s song “Famous.” Twitter became overrun with #KimExposedTaylorParty and snake emojis in response to the video.
So when Taylor purged her Twitter account and began posting nondescript pictures and gifs of snakes, I smelled a Taylor Swift pity-party coming from a mile away. But I could never have imagined the ostentatious display that is her new video for her single, “Look What You Made Me Do.”
The opening scene depicts a lavishly decorated graveyard with a headstone that reads: “Here lies Taylor Swift’s Reputation.” What follows is an extravagant production set to a truly mediocre tune, but halfway through the song, Taylor’s true intentions are revealed. She stands triumphantly atop the characters of her previous music videos as they claw and kick each other in a desperate attempt to reach the top. The video ends with dialogue between these characters in what appears to be Taylor satirically imitating her own persona.
But there’s the catch and the aspect of Taylor that has always confused me: is she sincerely poking fun or does she truly believe she is a faultless victim of the media? If the message she wants to send is “Yes, this pettiness is the facade I put on to the world to gain attention. You all bought it, and now I’m a millionaire. Thanks!”, then I might even applaud that. She would have us all duped. But something in my gut tells me no; this is Taylor resurrecting some obviously deep-seated bitterness in an attempt to vindicate herself. Again.
I hate to break it to you, T, but no one made you do anything. You have dragged your personal affairs into the limelight just as much as the media has, and you helped dig your own grave in the process. Use your music to inspire, not to whine, and you may still have a lasting impact on young people. Otherwise, very soon, the public will stop paying attention to your narrative.
Originally published on Her Campus Marist: