Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” Music Video: Decoded

Over the past 24 hours, the number one trending subject across all social media platforms has been Taylor Swifts “Look What You Made Me Do”, music video. Swift released the song a few days ago, and it didn’t receive the best reviews, (it personally reminds me of the song Prince Charming sings at the end of Shrek 2, “too sexy for my shirt”). Being her first single post-hiatus, I was disappointed in the song she chose to make her comeback with; but once she dropped the music video for the song, my opinion was permanently changed.

If you’re someone who is interested in pop-culture or social media, then you are probably aware of Taylor Swift’s decline in popularity over the past two years. She has been on the receiving end of shady comments, personal attacks, and straight-up insults about her body, friends, love life and just about everything else; she even has her own personal diss track on Katy Perry’s most recent album.

Since Swift has been absent from the public eye over the past year, she hasn’t defended herself against any of the petty allegations that have been thrown her way. That is, until the debut of her music video “Look What You Made Me Do”. The whole video is filled with (not so) hidden responses to the biggest “scandals” she’s been involved in, and if you’re one of the 63 million people (so far) who have viewed the video, and have questions, I’m here to break it down and decode it for you.

So here is Taylor Swifts’ “Look What You Made Me Do” video: decoded, scene by scene.

The opening scene is a zombified version of Taylor in her music videos for “Out Of The Woods”. She’s pictured in a grave yard filled with tomb stones, one reading Nils Sioberg, A.K.A. the pseudonym she used when writing the single “This Is What You Came For”, for her ex Calvin Harris (the song that lit the fuse of drama between them).


Next up, we have the bathtub scene. Swift is laying in a tub filled with jewels, diamonds, and one single dollar bill. Although many people are connecting the bathtub of jewelry to Kim Kardashian’s Paris robbery, I don’t believe that she is cruel enough or risky enough to shade someone over a traumatic event like a robbery. I believe it’s tied into the dollar bill sitting on top of the jewels (representing the single dollar she won in her sexual assault case against DJ, David Mueller), as a reminder that yes, she is rich, but not rich enough to spare someone from the court room.


The bathtub scene is followed by one of the most iconic scenes: the snakes. Swift has been dubbed “a snake” by too many people to count, due to the “sweet persona” she always has. She is sitting on a golden throne (in the most stunning outfit) while snakes are crawling everywhere. She even has a snake pour her tea (because what else do you drink when you’re throwing shade?). As if the scene couldn’t get any shadier, enscribed into the arm of the golden throne is “Et Tu Brute”, a reference to the Betrayal of Julius Caesar. Referring to herself as Julius and her “friends” who stabbed her in the back, as Brutus.


The next moment in the video, is the car scene. This part is backed by two different theory’s, one being stronger than the other. The first theory is that Swift is alluding to Katy Perry’s music video “Waking Up In Vegas”, with the similar shots and camera angles inside the car. She also adopts Katy Perry’s new look with the bleached bob, but the part that basically confirms she is shading Katy Perry, is when she holds up a Grammy (something Katy has yet to receive). The second theory about this scene, is that she is alluding to her own song “Red”, where she is driving a red Maserati “down a dead end street”: but in this case, the Masaratti is gold. Still a viable theory, but there’s more evidence backing the Katy Perry version.


The next part of the video is more tricky to uncover. Swift is pictured in a vault, with a cat mask on, swinging a baseball bat while people in the background are robbing the vault (also in cat masks). This could symbolize Katy Perry’s fandom “Katy Cats”, and be Swift’s response to them attacking her. Or it could simply be her making fun of herself being a cat lady.


Another jaw dropping part: Swift standing on a stage looking down on mannequins that are meant to symbolize her “squad”. Swift is known for having a tight knit group of friends (her squad), who all look similar: tall, beautiful, models. Swift looking down at her manequin squad is her firing back on the theory that she’s only friends with people who look physically flawless.


The next major dig is one that Swift is notorious for, bashing her ex’s. Taylor is followed by eight men (representing her eight high profile relationships) all in the recognizable “I heart TS” tank top that ex Tom Hiddleston wore last July 4th.


The following scene is more on the eerie side. Swift is standing on top of a pile. This pile is her past selves from different music videos, award shows and red carpets trying to reach the top where the “new Taylor” is standing. She then answers the phone where someone asks for the “old Taylor” and she responds, “she’s dead”. This is Swift reinstating that her past is in the past and she is a new person.


The final scene is my favorite one, it’s also the most symbolic. All of her past selves are pictured once again, but this time they are lined up and criticizing each other with comments that have been made by others. For example, Swift is pictured the same way she was years ago in her “You Belong With Me” music video, looking surprised, while her other self, dressed in the same outfit as her “Shake It Off” video, tells her in a sarcastic tone that she “can’t always be so surprised”. She keeps throwing digs at herself, including the time where Kim Kardashian West “exposed” her on Snapchat. She is dressed like Kim, taking selfies (of course), saying she has receipts and is going to edit them; insinuating that the audio of Taylor Swift in Kim’s famous Snapchat exposing video was edited. She ends the music video in the same outfit she wore at the 2009 VMA’s where Kanye West interrupted her on stage (still cringing over that moment), saying she wants to be excluded from the narrative she never chose to be a part of, the same thing she replied in response to Kimye exposing her on Snapchat.


This Music Video was fully loaded for only being four minutes long, and after decoding it, I think Taylor deserves the title “Queen Snake”; she definitely knows how to make a jaw dropping comeback and I will continue to applaud her for this masterpiece.


3 thoughts on “Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” Music Video: Decoded

  1. Very interesting analysis. I never noticed half of this stuff. However, I would like to point out that 1) this song’s chorus actually WAS a direct sample from “too sexy”, so good job for noticing that, and 2) I think that receipts thing is symbolic for something else. In that persona, she is wearing the same clothes as she did in the car crash when personifying Katy Perry, and that receipt line is a direct dig at HER, because in Katy’s diss directing to Taylor, she talks about how Karma always “keeps receipts”. So, I think this line is a jab to that diss, not about the Kim K thing (which I had actually completely forgotten about)

    Liked by 1 person

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