Taylor Swift wasn’t nominated for any VMAs this year, but that didn’t stop her from having the most anticipated moment of the ceremony. The video for “Look What You Made Me Do,” her new robotic snarl of a kiss-off anthem to anyone who’s dared to give her shit over the years, premiered half an hour into the show.
And it was, as anticipated, a lot.
The single dropped days after Swift wiped out her social media accounts last weekend, signaling that some kind of image rehab, ditching her usual bland platitudes and “carefully staged dinner party” Instagram photo shoots, was on its way. With this video, it’s clear that’s exactly what she’s trying to do. The video features Swift mercilessly mocking her own reputation from over the years — which is fitting for the lead single off an album called Reputation.
We see her crash a car and pose for paparazzi while holding a Grammy. We see her crawling out of a grave like a zombie. (The “Old Taylor ... is dead!”) We see her being served tea by her snake minions (a possible nod to fans swarming her social media with snake emojis after Kim Kardashian West released an incriminating clip of Swift last year). We see her swinging in a birdcage, robbing a bank, heading up an army of women in bondage latex, and trying to dance. And, most pointedly, we see her lording over a desperate pile of other Taylor Swifts, dressed like versions of herself from videos and appearances past.
The video ends on a lineup of those old Swifts, from the geeky girl from her “You Belong with Me” video to the silver-dress-wearing Swift who had her 2009 VMA acceptance speech crashed by Kanye West insisting that Beyoncé should’ve won. They then snipe at each other by basically quoting her critics:
“Stop making that surprised face; it’s so annoying.”
“Stop acting like you’re all nice; you’re so fake.”
“There she goes, playing the victim again.”
And when 2009 VMA Swift finally insists that she “would very much like to be excluded from this narrative” — as 2016 Swift did after Kardashian West released that Snapchat — the others tell her to “shut up.”
Basically: Swift wants very badly for us to know she doesn’t give a damn about her bad reputation — or, at the very least, that she’s all too aware of it.