If there's one thing Taylor Swift does well, it's make a literal profit by turning critiques of her into art and shattering records in the process. So is the case with her latest music video. Yes, the ending of Taylor Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do" video has people everywhere shook, and in the best way. Seriously, a lot happened in those few minutes, so here are all of the references you missed in Taylor Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do" video. And hold on to your seat, because it's a lot.
Pretty much everyone and their grandmother knows that Swift hasn’t exactly had the easiest past year. Between multiple breakups, a sexual assault trial (which she handled like a boss), and multiple rumors of feuds, Swift had been taking a purposeful social media break. But last week, Swift deleted all of her social media posts in a clear attempt to reinvent herself. She only posted new photos and videos to promote her new album and single, "Look What You Made Me Do," but now that the video has premiered at the VMAs on Sunday, it's time to pull out your magnifying glass and channel your inner detective.
The Old Taylor Is Definitely Dead
The "Look What You Made Me Do" video opens with a, to be frank, eerie as sh*t scene in a graveyard. The camera zooms in to a graveyard marked, "Here Lies Taylor Swift's Reputation," and it only gets crazier from there.
Yes, Taylor Swift literally pops up out of a grave and claws her way towards the camera, looking like a straight-up zombie. Clearly, this is in direct reference to the "RIP Taylor Swift" trend that overtook Twitter last year after Kim Kardashian released that infamous video.
Oh, Nils Sjoberg Is Dead Too
While Swift is literally digging her own grave, the camera pans out, and viewers can see a gravestone marked "Nils Sjoberg" on the left of the screen. In case you don't remember, Swift co-wrote Calvin Harris' hit song, "This Is What You Came For," under the pseudonym, "Nils Sjoberg." Of course, once she actually took credit for her work, Harris flipped out (masculinity so fragile), and thus another feud was born.
Swift placing a headstone for Nils Sjoberg shows she's done taking the back seat when it comes to her work.
The One Dollar Among The Diamonds
In August, Swift went to court to face her assailant in trial in Colorado. After accusing a radio DJ of groping her without her consent during a photo opportunity backstage, the DJ was fired from his job. Swift was fine with things ending quietly, but the DJ in question decided to sue Swift for defamation of character, in an amount totaling about $3 million. So, Swift countersued him...for one dollar.
Obviously, Swift's case was hard for her, and having to go on stand and discuss what happened to her couldn't have been easy. But, she won the case, and the dollar bill in the bathtub of the video proves that it was the most important dollar she's ever earned.
All The Snakes, Of Course
Obviously, everyone was expecting to see a few snakes in the "Look What You Made Me Do" video, as Swift used an image of a snake to (slowly) inform the public of her new music.
And, as many noted, Swift seemed to be reclaiming the snake image after her fallout with Kimye last year. Once Kardashian released the video, users began flooding Swift's Instagram and Twitter with the snake emoji and calling her a snake on a regular basis. Clearly, Swift is over it, and her sitting on a throne while snakes swirl around her is just proof that she couldn't care less what her haters say.
"Et Tu, Brute"
On the throne Swift sits on while the snakes slither around her, the phrase "et tu, Brute" is etched into gold. Historically, "et tu, Brute" refers to the line, "Even you, Brutas?" from William Shakespear's Julias Caesar. However, over the time, the phrase developed to mean something along the lines of, "seriously, dude?" Or, as Dictionary.com puts it, “Et tu, Brute?” is used to express surprise and dismay at the treachery of a supposed friend." Think of it as the original, "What's good, Miley?"
By etching that exact phrase into her throne, Swift is subtly reminding us all that she felt betrayed by everything that's happened to her, despite what the media might think.
Also while on her throne, Swift takes a very deliberate sip of tea, probably referring to one of Kardashian's favorite memes. It's Taylor's turn to spill the tea now, it seems.
There Is Apparently A Squad University
Look, if this video proves one thing, it's that Swift is well aware of all the shade that gets thrown her way. Just because she doesn't talk about it, doesn't mean she doesn't know what's being said about her. And one of the media's favorite critique's of Swift is of her "squad." In the "Look What You Made Me Do" video, Swift teases those comments, with a pretend "Squad U" complete with creepy looking mannequins.
Clearly, this is Swift's way of poking fun at the media's portrayal of her squad as homogenous and not really a good example of feminism.
The "I <3 TS" Shirts Made An Appearance, As Well
Another tiny detail, but some of Swift's background dancers were wearing crop tops that were emblazoned with "I <3 TS" on them. If you don't remember, Swift briefly dated Tom Hiddleston back in 2016, and a photo of the two of them on the beach went viral after Hiddleston was spotted wearing his own "I <3 TS" shirt.
This one is also pretty small, but it seems to be another instance of Swift claiming her own narrative once again, this time after so many assumed her relationship with Hiddleston was a mere publicity stunt.
Swift Rises Above Her Past
One of the most powerful scenes in the video comes at the bridge, when Swift begins to sing, "I don't trust nobody, and nobody trusts me." The camera zooms out to show her standing in front of a neon blue "T" with clones of her past performance self clawing their way to the top. There's "Shake It Off" Taylor, there's "You Belong With Me" Taylor, and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" Taylor, and literally every other Taylor in between.
What's left at the top of it all is the new Taylor, refined, fierce, and owning her Reputation. All of it.
She "Destroyed" Her Brand
As the media swirled around Swift's many feuds, many accusations were made that she was effectively destroying her own brand. In this scene, Swift plays with that idea, showing a "TS" storehouse being blown up as she walks away. Paparazzi are in the background, perhaps to show that they play a large part in how the public views her, and how her private life isn't actually private.
Taylor Throws Her Own Shade At Her Former Selves
To be completely honest, my personal favorite part of the video was the ending. And I don't mean that in a passive-aggressive, "thank God it's over" way. Oh no. At the end of the video, notably, after the music fades, Swift multiplies. All of her past stage and music video versions of herself stand in a line, in front of a private jet with "Reputation" spray-painted on it, and they have it out.
One Taylor makes her signature surprised face, to which another Taylor replied, "stop making that surprised face, it's so annoying," and another chimes in with, "yeah, you can't possibly be that surprised all the time," echoing a popular critique of Swift's response to winning awards. These conversations go on, and include references to Swift being called a "b*tch," Swift being "so fake," Swift "playing the victim, again," Swift "getting receipts," and wanting to be "excluded from this narrative." The video ends with a resounding "shut up!" and fades to black.
No matter what you think of Swift, the "Look What You Made Me Do" video shows that she doesn't particularly care. What's more, every ounce of hate that's thrown her way is just another form of inspiration for Swift to draw from. Not only is "Look What You Made Me Do" a visual masterpiece, it is Swift's most self-aware music video to date, and shows that she's done playing the victim and ready to be whoever she wants to. Because remember, the old Taylor?