Taylor Swift’s new single has only been out for three days, but it’s already breaking sales and streaming records while simultaneously leaving many fans scratching their heads. One question we’re left with in particular: What exactly is it that we made Taylor Swift do?
As promised, Swift premiered the months-in-the-making new music video for “Look What You Made Me Do” during the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night, and it raises as many new questions as it answers. Directed by longtime Swift collaborator Joseph Kahn, the video opens with a very “Thriller”-esque horror scene with Swift as a zombie, rising from a grave whose epitaph reads “Here lies Taylor Swift’s reputation,” then proceeds to have Swift appear in every form in which her critics have ever portrayed her: Swift as a “fake,” plastic feminist who only uses her “squad” as a prop for her own branding, Swift as a snake who always plays the victim, Swift as the woman who always wins and yet always puts on the “Taylor Swift surprise face” when she does. All this becomes most obvious at the video’s end, when the New Taylor climbs atop a mount of Old Taylors in a sort of Boschian hellscape of meta-pop.
In other words, there’s more than enough in here to keep Swift’s loyal superfans dissecting the video for weeks, but the video seems less likely to win over the uninitiated. Then again, given the numbers her single is already doing, maybe she’s decided that her old fans are enough?