Why You're All Wrong About That New Taylor Swift Song

She's not talking about Kim, or Katy, or Kanye. She's talking about you

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Less than a week since it dropped, Taylor Swift's new song 'Look What You Made Me Do' has provoked a reaction seemingly both vicious and infinite in nature.

To summarise: she's been exposed as a whiney, Parseltongue-speaking hag still playing the victim. Previous anti-Taylor Swift thinkpieces declaring her to be a self-pitying snowflake have been affirmed by new anti-Taylor Swift thinkpieces confirming she is, in fact, a self-pitying snowflake.

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Not only is Taylor's new song an insult to the memory of her last album, 1989, it's a vindictive tract determined to wreak revenge on anyone who has ever wronged her. In this reading, Type A Taylor is so upset at her detractors that she actually murdered herself and then regenerated like the female Doctor Who, only less northern and more into crying about her feelings.

On first listen, I agreed. I'd not been so disappointed in anything since Kazuo Ishiguro made us wait ten years for a novel about sad Vikings going on a really long walk. Not only had Taylor not provided the banger we all prayed for in these bleak times (sampling Right Said Fred in the process, no less!), but she seemed petulantly unwilling to take responsibility for her actions. Oh yeah, really hard life you've got Taylor, BEING RICH AND GOING OUT WITH HARRY STYLES. Meanwhile, whatever it is we 'made her do' seemed like pop's biggest mystery since whatever Meat Loaf wouldn't do for love. It made no sense.

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Then the video emerged, and the commentariat doubled down. After its premiere on Sunday night's VMAs, every frame was dissected with the intensity of a film studies undergraduate watching Rear Window for the first time. The dossier of anti-Taylor evidence became more swollen than a blowfish with a peanut allergy. It is now literally longer than Roberto Bolano's 2666.

Oh look - there's the bit where she is mean about Katy Perry's new haircut. She's definitely dissing Kanye in that bit. That bit is obviously to do with her FAKE relationship with Tom Hiddleston. There's the reference to murderous ancient Rome - absolute classic Taylor. Oh and the bit where she's laughing about Kim Kardashian being held at gunpoint. What a sociopath!

I, on the other, suddenly felt I understood Taylor and her far-from-self-absorbed mission anew. Because here's the thing. 'Look What You Made Me Do' isn't about Kim, Kanye or Katy. It's about us.

In the video's epilogue, an assembly line of different incarnations of Taylor Swifts stand in a line grumbling at one another. There's the Old Taylor (RIP babes), who walks around in wide-eyed wonder at the world, stays up too late, goes on too many dates and really likes cats. There's the doe-eyed country star. There's the pratfalling ballet Taylor Shaking It Off at the peak of her popularity. They stand alongside Taylor 2.0, who has a pet snake, digs graves in the middle of the night and has, honestly, one of the best perms I've ever seen.

A great perm

As they snipe at each other to stop being so nice, stop pretending to be so surprised and to stop being such a victim, it's a startling reminder that Swift, the actual human being, knows everything that you say about her on social media. The final, playful utterance of the famous line that she wrote about Kim and Kanye after Snapchat-gate may be tongue-in-cheek, but it also points to the fact that Swift has spent her life being placed into narratives, from the boy-obsessed cling-on to the mean girl squad leader.

Showing her 'selves' knocking each other down with familiar barbs holds up a mirror to an age where malice is delivered by proxy, where we can bombard a woman with snake emojis and forget that the internet isn't a vacuum but a tool for communication. Since Swift's inevitable fall from unsustainable levels of popularity, the discourse around her has reached a level of toxicity that is no less over the top. The video's epilogue is a reminder of the simple and yet constantly overlooked fact that if you send someone abuse online, it is delivered to them - famous or otherwise - instantly.

But don't be mistaken into thinking 'Look What You Made Me Do' is a cry of victimhood. Would a woman who stood up to Apple to make them pay artists fairly and who fought a landmark case against a man who sexually assaulted her fall apart because of some malicious gossip? No. The most ironic thing is that the song plays a sleight of hand – it's actually a declaration of agency. We didn't make her change and we didn't make her fail. Less than a week after the song's release, she's broken three different streaming records; that's what we made Taylor do.