Like almost everyone else watching the VMA’s, it was not Katy Perry’s hosting skills that kept me intrigued while watching the award show. It was the suspense building up to the big reveal of Taylor Swift’s music video for her new single. Though there are many, many, many opinions swirling around about the video, I felt as though most of them were heavy on the criticism. I can’t say that my initial response wasn’t confusion and disapproval as well, but I figured I owed it to Tay to try to look a little deeper and see what she was getting at. After mulling it over, these are the conclusions I came to:
1. The hungry world of publicity we created forces artists to harden themselves. Taylor, and others in the limelight like her, have no choice but to thicken their skin and harden their hearts if they wish to survive in this industry. If they are not sufficiently hardened, they can’t even walk through a checkout without seeing ugly lies painted across the latest glossy issues of magazines that profit from their pain. This may be an over exaggerated way of describing a simple situation, but when I imagine myself in her shoes, that’s how I picture it to be. I wouldn’t survive a day walking in her heels (both figuratively and literally).
2. Sad. As an avid and lifelong fan of Taylor, this song, paired with the video especially, made me sad because it was not just a goodbye, but an angry, spiteful funeral for those other versions of herself, ones that I admired and looked up to.
3. All those versions of herself she portrayed in the video were necessary parts of her—she used them to climb to the top, after all. Does that mean some of them were fake? It could, but that doesn’t take away the fact that they were parts of her that she had to leave behind because society told her they weren’t good enough.
4. It has been THREE years since her last album. So much has happened in that time that we have not seen or heard. She has kept under the radar far more in these past years than she has since she first rose to the spotlight. The truth is this: We don’t know her life.
5. STOP JUDGING AND LET ARTISTS BE ARTISTS. Part of their job is to keep up with the industry, so don’t be mad when they invariably chase change so as to keep up.
6. Overall, it’s still a jam. Whatever your opinion on the meaning or hidden jabs of the song, you know you’ll bust a move to it when it comes on.