Taylor Swift is here to stay

By Shankari Sureshbabu, Columnist

Last Thursday night, after a long and iconic career in show business, the world lost our very own over-surprised angel, ‘Old Taylor’ Swift. After a rough and uncharacteristically quiet year for the young pop star, she broke the tragic news herself as she does best: through song.

From people bashing on the song for being childish and petty to others lauding it for being a savage masterpiece, Swift’s brand new single “Look What You Made Me Do” has got the world stopping and staring. The music video dropped Sunday during the Video Music Award show and has already racked up over 100 million views and spawned countless “analytical” articles about the hidden messages in the unexpected video.

The internet has been having a hayday with everyone making jokes and comments about the new song and Swift’s surprising style. The public’s reactions have definitely been mixed, but I admire her courage to reestablish herself in such a bold way.

The music video, for those who haven’t seen it, started with a zombie Taylor burying the grave of “Taylor Swift’s reputation.” It then showed a new Taylor on a throne engraved “Et Tu Brute” as she was surrounded by snakes, snarkily announced that the “Old Taylor” was dead and featured “new Taylor” standing on top of an array of “old Taylors” trying to claw their way to the top. Most amusingly, it ended with 15 different Taylor Swifts, each from memorable moments of her career standing in a line and arguing with each other and using the very same insults the media had thrown at her. After years of her public persona being bashed for being “too fake,” “too nice” or more recently  “a snake,” Swift acknowledged all of these critiques head on, and it was awesome.

It was true that Taylor Swift’s reputation has been dragged through the mud many times over. From being America’s sweetheart and New York City style icon to Kardashian-exposed liar and snake was a hard and long fall from fame. This video seemed to be trying to reclaim all this negativity. She publicized the dropping of the song with cryptic snake videos and dressed up as a cat lady robbing a “streaming company,” thought to represent her feud with Apple.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

This is not the first time that Swift has addressed the media’s critical perception of her. After having a series of highly publicized relationships with other celebrities, Swift lamented that the media made her a “national lightning rod for slut shaming.” With this accusation in mind, she wrote the satirical song “Blank Space” in her album 1989, from the perspective of a psychotic woman that seduces and dates men for songwriting material.

Using this and her quirky charm and self deprecation, she won over the hearts of many Americans that did probably think of her as a bit of a serial dater and emotional singer. She spun the narrative about herself to be a joke and the audience loved it. The song “Blank Space” went on to be at the top of the billboards for 9 weeks, and the album went 6 times Platinum. She was a beloved star that hung out with a new famous celebrity every show and that no one could touch. That is, until Kanye West and Kim Kardashian got into the picture.

A year and a half later, she is spinning the narrative she didn’t want any part in, again. Although the song was accusatory and petty, the last 40 seconds of the music video was pure self deprecation. It was funny and clever and definitely had people talking because it showed that Taylor Swift was back. She was brave, she was strategic and I, for one, am here for it.

Shankari is a junior in LAS.

[email protected]