I decided to write a blog only on the music video and will be breaking down this song next week for the lyrics alone. As a swiftie it’s fun to see all of the past eras that Taylor put into this video – most which I’m sure I’ll miss.
I am not going to address the removal of the scale – I talked about it on its own blog, which you can read here. I don’t think the removal was a good thing. I think it’s smart to talk about these things that make us uncomfortable rather then remove them and act like they do not exist. I explain most of that in my other writing.
From the very first clip I couldn’t help but think of All Too Well. Now I know that director of photography for both was Rina Yang, and Taylor directed them both, but It’s interesting to show the past from the front, and the present from the back.
Both of these films are shot on 35mm Ektachrome and have similar feelings to them. Nostalgic and stuck in the past. In the next frame we see Taylor cut into her ‘breakfast at midnight’ [we see you 22] and she is among her sheet ghosts in the room.
When she cuts into the eggs there is this purple glittery substance that comes out. Lottttaa speculation on this, but I think this entire album aesthetic is glittery, midnight, gem, and overall purply blues [midnight sky y’all] – so the only thing I really read into this scene for is it signifying that she is in her ‘nightmare’ state.
So if you think about the movie Inception, they have a toy top that signifies when they are dreaming and when they are awake. I kind of see this as that type of signifier. This isn’t real life, it’s her nightmares that she’s delusionally thinking in the moment.
The next moment that got me was the phone that she picks up to call for help.
Except this time the line is broken unlike the first time we see this similar composition and scene in the “We are never get back together” music video.
Although the first created video eventually splits a scene with another view – showing a guy we presume is at a bar [weird time to call], from a payphone nevertheless, it does have this right framed, left standing wall composition, leaving me unable to seperate that this is a memory that also haunts her in the middle of the night.
In this video however, she goes to call and no one is on the line – she is unable to call or receive anything – she is alone with her thoughts, her ideas and is left alone to make irrational decisions in the middle of the night.
The next scene – I can’t really get out of my head. I’m still trying to break down what this means so let me just throw some things out there and see what sticks.
She’s running from the ghosts and down the hallway runs into another one in the mirror. At the same time, the lyrics are “you got tired of my scheming for the last time.” The mirror is blocked, unable for her to see herself and just like any horror movie is filled with a ghost or something we don’t want to see.
Mostly I don’t know if this – mixed with this line – is supposed to be fans or a loved one who is a fear of being a future ‘ghost’ in Taylor’s mind. Even in deciphering the lyrics, I think it could be a little bit of both – to be honest.
IT’S ME, HI.
So – Tale old as time, is a Beauty and the Beast reference first of all. So this duality makes a lot of sense for how this video is set up. In this way, I actually don’t see these two Taylor’s as the real Taylor, I see these as her ‘good’ and ‘evil’ sides in her mind. We all have this good conscious vs bad conscious especially in the middle of the night – when all of this is presumably happening.
But in this representation, her ‘bad side’ is saying “I’m the problem, it’s me.” Which makes me believe, that her bad side is actually telling her that she is the problem when that actually may not be true. She encourages her to do shots as this representation of a ‘bad influence’ for the viewers to understand who is who.
“Ill stare directly at the sun but never in the mirror.”
First of all, this is the Speak Now guitar she used in tour.
Secondly, her ‘bad’ self is smashing the guitar while her ‘good’ self is enjoying playing it and looks like she is encouraging her to smash it. I’ve been thinking about this scene a lot. Why Speak Now? Why that guitar? I feel like at that time she is concluding that she made some mistakes but never confronted herself. Instead of listening to constructive criticism and either learning from it, or just rejecting it and moving on, she created her own album with no assistance, and carried on. Now as a huge stan, I’m thankful she did this, and also feel like she’s always dealt with bullshit comments from men, usually, and has dealt with it well. But there is always more to the story – and maybe she’s understanding now that some of her own personal decisions could have been made with better actions.
In the next scene, ‘bad’ Taylor is teaching ‘good’ Taylor that everyone will betray her. Another sense of gaslighting by herself? Another way of her creating problems for herself. This sets her up for the notion that she shouldn’t trust a single person – which causes self sabotage.
You drew up some good faith treatiesThe Great War
I drew curtains closed, drank my poison all alone
You said I have to trust more freely
This entire album is made up of self sabotaging discussion – so it’s something she is working through. From what we gather by lyrics and small interviews, Taylor has tried to cut people off to protect them. Lavender Haze, Mastermind, and many songs on this album discuss people not being able to handle the critique from the media and public and due to that, she had made up her mind that many people will not want to stay, and if they do, they don’t deserve the hate from exterior voices. There is even speculation [Cornelia street] that her and Joe broke up during the ‘Lover’ Era because she didn’t want him to endure the hate once it was public they were dating.
I thought you were leading me on
I packed my bags, left Cornelia Street
Before you even knew I was gone
But then you called, showed your handCornelia Street
I turned around before I hit the tunnel
Sat on the roof, you and I
The next scene is weird as fuck and I love it.
The lyrics on this part of the song are one’s that I have been thinking about for honestly 2 years – in just the discussion of celebrity life.
And I’m a monster on the hill
Too big to hang out, slowly lurching toward your favorite city
Pierced through the heart, but never killed
People always say “Oh [she’s] rich, she’s fine. When it comes to overworking herself, being speculated, talking about her like she’s a character, projecting their fantasies onto her real life. Celebrities in general who are dealing with depression or anxiety are diminished because they hAvE mOnEy. People dismiss so much from celebrities because they have money or things, but we know those things do not fill voids in our hearts. It’s why so many celebrities commit suicide, it’s why the happiest presenting people struggle the most. It’s hard to be lonely, and it’s hard to have mental struggles AND be in the public eye all of the time.
I think about an interview by Jennifer Aniston in the past that talked about how weird it was for her to go to the store to get toilet paper and get followed the entire way. In Miss Americana we also see Taylor walk out of her apartment to her car- completely surrounded by fans and media. She realizes that people standing outside her apartment is not normal but also goes into discussion about how these images of her, caused her to go into an ED. I remember a long time ago, Taylor said she simply just didn’t leave her house if she wasn’t going to get ‘done up,’ for the day in fear of these images that would inevitably be captured.
Anyways, in Anti-Hero’s replication it shows this discussion. She’s too big to go to normal events, parties, and out in public. Her safety is at risk, people will speculate even if she just talks to a fan, and if she looks underdressed or overdressed there will be a media article about it.
The next scene, Hey Archer.
Pierced through the heart but never killed.
Lots to say here. First, the archer reference. That song is about creating anxiety from things that didn’t necessarily need the worry. Worrying about things that are not problems, or creating problems that do not exist.
Secondly, her being so big, people think that their words and comments don’t sting because she ‘wont see them,’ or ‘is too rich to care,’ but she’s kind of admitting all of this does in fact hurt her a lot. It doesn’t kill her, but it wounds her. An easy example of this is the explanation of her turning off her comments on her instagram a long time ago. Still, her posts remain without comment ability.
I’m just too soft, for all of it.
As she is shot, the glittery, purple goo appears again, letting us know that this is still in her nightmare, midnight dream.
Did you hear my covert narcissism I disguise as altruism
Like some kind of congressman? (I’ve realized all this time)
I wake up screaming from dreaming
One day I’ll watch as you’re leaving
And life will lose all of its meaning
For the last time
This next part was pretty genius to me. In lyrics and in representation. Next week I’ll be blogging about the lyrical interpretation in general but in the video we see her pin a ‘vote for me’ pin on her shirt to cover up the archer’s wound. So MANY THOUGHTS ON THIS.
- Covering up wounds with better music. Again in Miss Americana we see her get pretty upset about Reputation not getting any awards. She states she has to make a better album. This hurt her pretty bad but her goal after that was just simply to make something else to get voted for.
- Distracting the public with shiny things to get them off topic.
Ok so, it’s not a surprise to hear that the fandom right now feels like its divided and in shambles. There are so many arguments about Taylor in general. She is the only artist to have a designated hashtag, really, on twitter, tiktok, etc, and that has a broad fan base all under the same title. What I mean by this is we have stans and generic fans that all identify as swifties. There isn’t a separation of the two at all. AND ITS MASSIVE. But among these people are many different opinions that Taylor has not addressed. Instead of addressing them, she continuously gives us more and more content, music, and distractions.
Dear readerDear Reader
You don’t have to answer
Just ’cause they asked you
3. Just like a congressman, she distracts us, gives us content and music, and is just doing what she needs to do to survive and get awards for her business. Honestly, I don’t have any place to judge in this decision.
In the next scene we see the ‘good’ Taylor kind of tapping out from ‘bad’ taylor’s influences.
I think this is important.
We see her get shoved off the bed and then throw up the glittery goo after drinking too much. We see the recognition of who is actually bad and who is dealing with the consequences of trusting that faux friend. That person who has led her to irrational decisions and mistrusting those who maybe were trustworthy.
The next scene about her ED is another time that we see judgement from one side of herself to the other. Again if you would like to see my thoughts about the scale disappearing, Click here. However, I’ll touch on this part a little bit – though my other blog really dives into this concept and its importance in our culture.
When we all collectively saw a thin person stand on a scale, and be told she wasn’t thin enough – and saw herself as overweight – it proved that the thin ideal is a myth. Those who are thin, cannot even reach the idea of ‘perfect’ or think enough in society’s eyes. At the peak of Taylor’s eating disorder, people in the media were still telling her she looked over weight. When she gained weight healthily during Reputation, people asked if she was pregnant, and she was still incredibly thin.
Two things on this topic.
Although a beautiful fashion choice, I remember seeing this photo of Taylor in real time and being so concerned. It was at the time of her model hang outs, girl gang, and I remember thinking about how worried I was for this type of influence. It’s hard enough being a celebrity and being a woman, but to be around a ton of VS models when the company itself fat shamed thin women harshly, and continuously encouraged anorexia, I just couldn’t help but be sad.
People gave Taylor flack for this scale piece in the music video, but this was the entire point of it. AT THIS TIME IN HER LIFE she was so malnourished and the media still said she wasn’t good or thin enough.
The second thing I would like to discuss is, although represented differently, Artists like Vanessa Beecroft have been making art about this for ages. The idea of the thin ideal not being thin enough – not being sustainable – and those who are even anorexic not being able to reach society’s standards. In many of her performance pieces she has very thin models stand for 8 hours. Now, it is impossible to stand in the same position for 8 hours, which is the point. Women eventually leave to go to the bathroom and come back, go to get food, sit down, and lay down. Those women with ‘thin’ bodies can’t even achieve the task of what is asked of them. That’s the point.
I think it’s important to talk about why society uses the word ‘fat,’ when you technically cannot be ‘fat,’ to confront head on the idea of fatphobia, instead of sweep it under the rug and deleting the scene. Taylor’s feelings are valid – this is her experience and many of us DO identify with it.
OK THE FUNERAL SCENE – I AM LIVING FOR EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS.
First of all, the cat photo is gold. lol
Some fun lil easter eggs
Bejeweled Phone case
Scooter.. that you? lol
The will has her cats named as children and her beach house being turned into a cat sanctuary – very on brand. 13 cents left to her actual children.
This next scene they talk about easter eggs being left over, her family using her name to get things or name recognition, the use of phones for content and everyone doing things for clout or clickbait and really just the non-genuine actions that come from people. Again as someone who is such a big star, I think it would be hard to trust many people or see their true intentions.
Recently I have become friends with Danielle, from Love is Blind season 2, and just watching her go through media shit, fan speculation and other non-genuine connections she has had — has been a lot. Danielle isn’t even nationally known by people and already I see it hard for her to know when to trust people and their intentions. Also hearing people’s ‘theories,’ while knowing the actual truth about her is a weird time. People love to speculate on Taylor and even assume they know her as if she spoke to them in person, all for name dropping to get clicks, followers and likes.
ps. bottom right does say reputation and 1989 but cannot make out the rest of it lol
The following scene the words start, “It’s me, Hi,” as she creeps out of the coffin and witnesses the brawl.
While they are fighting they talk about the fact there was no more easter eggs and that Taylor writes, there isn’t any easter eggs. She then comes out and stands in front of the chaotic scene, witnessing it all but not stopping it. I think this is really important for the fans to take to heart.
I think she does know that some fans take her ‘Easter Eggs’ too far. Recently she left a fricken skin clinic and people were speculating her hair style – in her personal life – in which she wasn’t ready to be photographed – and took it as an easter egg. They dive into her lyrics and instead of feeling how the art should be uniquely to each listener, take each line word for word and place them onto her personal life. There is nothing wrong with viewing songs from different lenses – and make them personal to us [this is the point of art], there is, however, a problem with taking that exact lens and placing it onto the artist. Music is art – each song she has can be read 4 different ways, but just because someone listens it to it in one of those ways doesn’t mean that direct view was her intention. The only songs that can have maybe one view point nailed to her – are those tracks she has exclusively made videos or interviews about where she stated those exact narratives from her own mouth and not from simply interpretation of metaphorical lyrics.
I think her standing and watching the fight happen while the chorus drops is slightly a way to say she is acknowledging the fans and the feuds happening that are so hard to hide from, especially on TikTok, but she still hasn’t intervened.
After the family fight, ‘bad’ Taylor meets ‘good’ Taylor on the roof. They are both exhausted and share a drink and come to terms with one another.
They co-exist. They are both apart of the same human.
The big monster appears and meets the sexy-babies [lol Im kidding], and they are both happy to see her. I’m not sure if this is the Real Taylor or the 3rd Taylor that feels out of place.
They flag her down and she joins them in the last scene. I have a feeling this is the real, outcasted Taylor. She feels alone because she is too big to hang out but because of that, she has herself.
He’s got my past frozen behind glassIt’s Time to Go
But I’ve got me
In the end of this, the narrative stays the same. She isn’t bad, she isn’t good but sometimes through all of this she only has herself. In the moments of panic, she makes her own decisions and that’s caused her both good things and also pain – but in the end they are her choices and she lives with them.
Next week I’ll be posting my lyric interpretation from this song, which is actually much different and deeper than the music video analysis, but this was really fun to go through clip by clip. However, with all of these new remixes coming out, it sure makes the song feel less serious.
Thank you for reading.
[…] Anti Hero – Music Video Analysis […]
“she is alone with her thoughts, her ideas and is left alone to make irrational decisions in the middle of the night” I Feel this SO HARD. Great blog, Paige!