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A Study in T-Swift

Taylor Swift’s latest single (“Blank Space”) has been the talk around town since Monday’s release of its highly entertaining music video. The lyrics alone carry heavy implications towards Swift’s “in on the joke” attitude regarding media representation of her romantic endeavors. With catchy, impossible-not-to-sing-along lines such as “got a long list of ex-lovers / they’ll tell you I’m insane” and “’cause darling I’m a nightmare /  dressed like a daydream”, Swift’s message is clear.

“I feel like watching my dating life has become a bit of a national pastime,” Swift says. “And I’m just not comfortable providing that kind of entertainment anymore. I don’t like seeing slide shows of guys I’ve apparently dated. I don’t like giving comedians the opportunity to make jokes about me at awards shows. I don’t like it when headlines read ‘Careful, Bro, She’ll Write a Song About You,’ because it trivializes my work.” RollingStone, 2014

For nearly all of Swift’s career, she has been painted in mainstream media as something similar to a mythological siren: luring and trapping celebrity males with a beautiful song, only to quickly change the tune upon the end of the relationships. Taylor Swift’s dating life has been a spectator sport- or, in her words, national pastime- for years. Theorizing about who Taylor Swift has dated, why they broke up, and what songs she has written about them is secondhand nature to gossip magazines and its readership alike.

For this very reason, “Blank Space” carries a huge amount of impact. The song itself remains a strong representation of the entirety of 1989, Swift’s first ‘documented official pop album’. Both of the singles from 1989 (“Shake it Off” and “Blank Space”) are equal parts fun and anthem. From my perspective as a consumer, 1989 is huge risk, huge reward: and “Blank Space” perfectly exemplifies this. The subject matter Swift presents to her fans and critics alike in “Blank Space” introduces what music video director Joseph Kahn describes as “a deconstructivist version of Taylor Swift”, or more simply, the version of Taylor Swift that has been plastered in magazines and tabloids for years.

“For a female to write about her feelings, and then be portrayed as some clingy, insane, desperate girlfriend in need of making you marry her and have kids with her, I think that’s taking something that potentially should be celebrated — a woman writing about her feelings in a confessional way — that’s taking it and turning it and twisting it into something that is frankly a little sexist.” UsMagazine, 2013

Swift makes a huge, unmissable statement in both the song and the “Blank Space” music video. She is not the parody of herself that mainstream media loves to scrutinize and pick apart, and that is why she managed to throw the image back into her critic’s faces. Swift embraces the unintentionally satirical nature of her so-called ‘image’ and creates an entire music video satirizing both herself and her love life.

The siren is breathed into life, as Taylor Swift glides to and fro in a giant storybook mansion wearing gorgeous designer dresses and surrounded by seemingly ethereal horses. Her unsuspecting prey spends the majority of the video as a silent companion, until the second verse, when Swift wows with her lyrical fight segment. Other highlights include, but are not limited to T-Swift’s crazy eyes, the way she trips after attempting to beat up a tree, and the fact that Sean O’Pry is a Kennesaw, Georgia native. The real highlight is the entire music video.

“I kind of wrote [Blank Space] as a joke. I was thinking a lot about, you guys know, you’ve seen in the last couple of years, it’s been interesting what the media has decided to fictionalize and sensationalize about my personal life. It’s been pretty gnarly.  I was thinking about that. I was thinking about how they’ve drawn up this character, she’s like emotionally unstable, and needy and clingy, but she gets all these boyfriends but they leave her.  She’s devastated.  She goes to her evil lair and writes songs for emotional revenge. I was thinking about the juxtaposition of that and my actual personal life which involves just kind of me just sitting there with two cats watching Friends marathons. But I got to thinking about it and I thought, which one is more interesting to write about? I thought the character they’ve drawn up, although it may be fictional, it’s actually sort of interesting.” SecretSession Livestream, 2014

I have reached the portion of this blog where I am incapable of doing anything other than gushing incoherent praises towards Taylor Swift. Without further ado… “Blank Space”. Watch and learn. Maybe write a blog about it.

By Kathryn

KATIE is a twenty-something held together with iced coffee and her wits. She writes personal confessions and pop culture chronicles.

One reply on “A Study in T-Swift”

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