The new Taylor Swift: Petty or self-empowered?

You may have noticed that last week Taylor Swift deleted everything from her Instagram, removing jovial pictures of her friends and performances and replacing them with creepy snake videos. It turns out she did this to showcase her new album entitled “Reputation,” and her new single, “Look What You Made Me Do.” 

The single was released on Friday and features a series of repetitive beats, brash lyrics and what appears to be a dramatic response to the harsh public opinions that Swift has faced in recent years. 

The song has a negative, menacing tone in accompaniment to self-glorifying lyrics and lines that belittle her haters. Lyrics include “All I think about is karma/ Maybe I got mine, but you’ll all get yours” and “I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me.” 

While some view the anthem to be a beacon of sassy girl power, others may feel that the response shows Swift taking the low road. One of the things that people love about Swift is her way of taking lemons, laughing about them and transforming them into a great song. 

However, at a glance, “Look What You Made Me Do” seems to symbolize anger and defeat. Others believe that the song is a parody, and the music video has many subtle hints regarding her controversies with Katy Perry, Kanye West and David Mueller. 

Is Swift’s response warranted? 

In 2013, David Mueller allegedly sexually assaulted Swift. When her team complained to Mueller’s radio station, he was fired and sued Swift for defamation. She countersued him for the sexual assault for $1, and was awarded that dollar when she won her court case. 

In the “Look What You Made Me Do” music video, Swift is seen lying in a bathtub of diamonds and jewels, with a single one-dollar bill lying near her face.  

Near the end of the video, Swift appears standing atop a pile of scrambling people, all of them dressed in outfits that she wore in previous videos and events. This is to address the rumor that other people made her famous, and that instead, the only people that she “used” to climb to the top were versions of her previous self. 

Swift has publicly dated several famous men and has been widely slut-shamed when each of those relationships fell apart. In recent years, she has developed a reputation for being emotional and dependent upon men, regardless of her wild success in the music industry.

Urban dictionary describes being petty as making things, events or actions that normal people dismiss as trivial or insignificant into excuses to be upset, uncooperative, childish or stubborn. At a glance, the lyrics to this song definitely seem to be petty, but when we look at the facts that surround the inspiration to this song, there is an important message.

Criticism of this song seems to defy the intentions of the song and circle back to the same problem in the first place: Taylor Swift is, just like everyone else, tired of being scrutinized for everything she does. She is tired of rumors and gossip and negative criticism. She is tired of life’s hardships and the narratives that strangers have invented around the intimate details of her difficulties. She is tired of being slut-shamed.

Whether this song was the right choice, I’m not sure. But in an effort to gather positive insight, it is a good reminder to be aware of how we treat other people.

Nicole Duke is a columnist. Follow her on Twitter @nicole_duke18.

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