After a year of glorious semi-silence, Taylor Swift is back. Not old Taylor though — she’s dead. New Taylor has risen from the dead, born from the vengeful spirit of Arya Stark, a 1998 Britney Spears filler track, and some whitewashed “Formation” references to spread her new gospel: vengeance. Her new track “Look What You Made Me Do” is an aural tantrum, a double-handed flip off to a mysterious group of people who have done her wrong. It’s not very good, says Twitter. Diane Warren — oh, hey, where ya been girl? — has already stepped forward to dismissively declare this song “petty shit.”
Yeah, of course it’s petty. For most of her career, T. Swift has used all the tools in her arsenal to deliver little (and big) digs to her adversaries. To recap: “Bad Blood.” Katy Perry’s back-up dancers. Calvin Harris’s ego. She was good at it even in her original days of bad perms and live journals set to music — “Dear John” was a masterclass in exposing men (specifically John Mayer) — for the weenises they really are.
There’s something different about this current Swift Blitz, though. She’s escalated things from petty to terrifying Cersei Lannister proportions. The rollout of her new single is a highly focused diss and dig at everyone who has ever wronged her. So, since we’ll all be talking about Taylor Swift from now until November (Jesus, help us), let’s discuss the most recent wave of T. Swift power moves — are they petty or sociopathic?
Reclaiming Snake Imagery
After Kim Kardashian exposed Taylor’s recorded conversation with Kanye West, Swift anti-fans flooded her Instagram with the snake emoji. Then Kim subtweeted her on National Snake Day, and boom, the snake emoji became part of the Swift narrative (the one she didn’t approve of). But new Taylor is using this opportunity to reclaim the snake. Before she dropped her single, Swift teased new music with not one, not two, but three snake-related videos on her Instagram. Now, she’s selling snake jewelry.
This is petty. Also pretty smart, even if the jewelry line is dismal.
Releasing her single the same day as the Fifth Harmony album
And you thought there was only one eclipse this week. ICYMI, and I’m sure you did, Fifth Harmony is also releasing an album today. On Taylor Swift Day. Honestly, Fifth Harmony is so low on her list that I doubt this is intentional, but she’s friends with ex-member Camila Cabello. A queen of petty knows she is nothing without her alliances. I rank this merely petty.
Premiering her video on Sunday, during MTV’s VMA ceremony … which Katy Perry is hosting
It was bratty when Swift released her entire catalogue of music on Spotify the day Katy Perry released Witness. But premiering her video during the VMAs this year, when her beleaguered, longtime rival Perry is the host? That’s ruthless. Damn. Sociopathic.
Releasing what is essentially a “Taylor’s Life Matters” single that “comes” for her enemies — who is this about again? Media? Calvin Harris? — while the world is a burning pile of tires
Given her privilege and her platform, a self-indulgent “all about me” album addressing personal feuds that refuse to end seems slightly tone-deaf in the current climate. So tone-deaf, it’s petty. So petty, it’s straight-up sociopathic.
On LWYMMD, Swift gleefully sings: “I got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined I check it once / Then I check it twice.” Ah. Hmm. You don’t say. Who is on that list? What does it mean if it’s red? What are you going to do? What kind of people normally carry little lists of people? People with sociopathic tendencies?
Using the same font as Kanye’s Life of Pablo cover on her album cover
Granted, this is the anti-design “It” font everyone from Kanye to Jay-Z is using, but look at it in context: the slicked-back hair? The shirt that’s not Yeezy but looks like Yeezy? The fact that Kim and Kanye’s names are on her list, underlined, circled, with stabby knives drawn around their names in red instead of hearts? But all the same, just petty, because it’s so boringly au courant.
Releasing her album on November 10
Her sixth album, Reputation, comes out on November 10, the anniversary of Donda West’s death. Now, there’s no way Swift is so obsessed with making a point regarding Kimye that she would release on album on the day of Kanye’s mother’s death. Right? In fact a source told Complex that it is, in fact, just a coincidence. But the fact we were so quick to believe it … Sociopathic.
Evoking Et Tu Brute imagery in her music video
WHAT IS HAPPENING. I AM SO SCARED. WHEN DID THIS GET SO SCARY. Sociopathic.
You almost have to respect someone who doggedly dedicates their rebranding to one of absolute, freewheeling levels of revenge-driven content … except [whispers in fear for my own safety] when the single isn’t good.