Music Video Breakdown: '…Ready For It?' by Taylor Swift

A Touch of Levity

After a botched assassination attempt by the new Taylor, the old Taylor Swift is back with a vengeance. Or are these two new Taylors? Not to be confused with “You Belong with Me”-Mean-Brunette-Regina-George Taylor Swift, or “Bad Blood”-Leather-Jumpsuit-Machete-Wielding-Combat Taylor Swift, or—God, they’re like Hydra. You cut one head off and two more show up. Like any good pop star femme fatale, Taylor has many alter egos—that’s common knowledge. But what might come as a surprise is Swift’s biological ability to procreate asexually, like a bacterium. It may look like a filmic trick, but in all seriousness, these are all separate clones.

The Taylor in “…Ready for It?” is a cloaked cyborg who spends the first minute walking down a dingy alleyway flanked by eight bodyguards, whom viewers have interpreted as stand-ins for Swift’s eight famous ex-boyfriends, a continuation of the precedent set in “Look What You Made Me Do” with eight back-up dancers. Insiders report that Swift now hires staff exclusively in increments of eight. Her team now includes sixteen bodyguards on standby and thirty-two personal chefs, each with their personal recipe for green juice. Yes—four variations for each boyfriend. Swift’s personal favorite is “Gyllenhaal No. 3,” an apple-kale blend.

Graffiti on the walls reads “I Love You in Secret,” “UR Gorgeous,” “All Eyes on Us,” and “This Is Enough.” Viewers have speculated that these are future song titles. Other viewers speculate that these are just evidence of Swift’s penchant for endearingly innocuous graffiti. Slightly out of shot, but also relevant: “My Crush on You Is, Surprisingly, Not a Publicity Stunt,” “Yes, I’m Secretly Dating a D-List White Boy,” and “I Love You as Much as I Love Social Media Rebranding.”

But subliminal messages caused less of a stir than did the video’s gratuitous sci-fi effects. Upon release, the video for “…Ready for It?” attracted heavy controversy for its overt similarities to last spring’s “Ghost in the Shell,” a Westernized remake of a Japanese anime starring Scarlett Johansson. Clad in an illuminated, skin-tight bodysuit, Swift closely resembles Johansson’s cyborg soldier character. Scarlett Johansson is not Asian; neither is Taylor Swift. Swift’s video is also peppered with Chinese letters reading “The Year of the Snake.” Some might claim appropriation, and the fact remains that Mandarin is a beautiful language that should only be reserved for sacred occasions, like Urban Outfitters graphic T-shirts and lower back tattoos reading, loosely translated, “lettuce.” Li Bai be damned! And can you really blame Swift? Who wouldn’t want to pay homage to a box office bomb responsible for whitewashing another Asian narrative?

Baby, let the games begin: Two Taylor Swifts, both arguably not Asian, duke it out from across a boundary of psychic energy. One fights atop a cyborg white horse, a vestige of Swift’s “White Horse” days, a subversion of fairy tale imagery. The other is cloaked in what appears to be a Dark Kermit allusion. Or a Taylor Swift in hiding circa three months ago costume.

Ultimately, Dark Kermit Taylor is no match for a well-timed high note belted by Cultural Appropriation Taylor. Her face skin starts disintegrating à la Voldemort in the last “Harry Potter,” and her cyborg cronies are struck by sci-fi lightning on a platform that reads “THEY’RE BURNING ALL THE WITCHES.” “They” meaning… cyborgs? media outlets? women who don’t help other women? Thank God we have a feminist icon out here calling the shots!

Cut to Cultural Appropriation Taylor on her victorious descent on an escalator. Despite her triumph, a single tear streaks down her robotically good complexion. Winning may look easy, but it’s hard out here for a witch.

—Staff writer Caroline A. Tsai can be reached at caroline.tsai@thecrimson.com.


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