Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. Music & Theatre
27 October 2017updated 30 Jul 2021 6:00am

What the hell is going on in Taylor Swift’s new music video?

It remains unclear.

By Anna Leszkiewicz

Last night, Taylor Swift dropped the new video for “…Ready For It”, the second Reputation single that barely made a ripple, let alone a splash, on the music scene when it was released in early September. It’s futuristic, undoubtedly expensive and totally impossible to understand. There’s something about a robot and another robot? Like one robot Taylor controls the other robot Taylor? Maybe? I don’t know. Let’s take a closer look.

We open with some helpful Year 7 style graffiti to set the scene. A garage door reads “Taylor Swift” a corner is emblazoned “Ready For It” (without the official elipses!!), some bricks let us know that this is “A Joseph Kahn Film”. So far, so good.

We get a flash of Taylor’s blue eye – complete with weird florescent ring around the iris. Is this our first clue that this Taylor Swift……. is not all she seems? Possibly a robot – check.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

As the weird semi-rapping semi-singing kicks in, we confirm that both Taylor’s eyes are weird and therefore potentially cyborgian. “Knew he was a killer first time that I saw him / Wonder how many girls he had loved and left haunted,” she sings. The narrative of seducing a male heartbreaker is kind of lost in this video, which features two robot Taylor Swifts but no human men.

Content from our partners
Helping children be safer, smarter, happier internet explorers
Power to the people
How to power the electric vehicle revolution

The numbers 89 and 91 here are rumoured to represent Taylor and boyfriend Joe Alwyn’s years of birth. This doesn’t help the video make any more sense.

More graffiti reading things like “Gorgeous” (the third single from Reputation), and some less familiar phrases that could be new track names – “I Love You In Secret”, “All Eyes On Us” and “This Is Enough”.

“If he’s a ghost, then I can be a phantom,” Taylor sings. Is she a robot ghost? Is that a thing? She mimes breaking out of handcuffs. Robot ghost prisoner, then? Anyway, if it wasn’t already clear: this bitch is on the loose!!!!!!!!

“Some boys are trying too hard,” she sings, and the camera cuts to two embarrassed looking robots with big robot heads. I pause to wonder what slights these robots have committed to come across as try-hard. Did they linger too long in robot Taylor’s war pod? Reply to her WhatsApp too fast? Laugh too loud at her joke, their tinny robot voices echoing uncomfortably in the empty warehouse? Who can say.

“He don’t try at all, though / Younger than my exes but he act like such a man, so,” Taylor continues, and this time the camera cuts to a menacing-looking robot in a big puffer jacket next to a haunted shopping trolley. Ah, yes, the manly, apathetic robot. He doesn’t even give a shit that Tesco want that trolley back.

Security is very tight in this robotic warzone. We know this because we lock eyes with a number of security robots in quick succession, then see Taylor tapping numbers into a goth keypad.

So goth. (She taps in the numbers 2 and 1, which some see as a reference to Alwyn’s birthdate, Feburary 21st.)

Why all this security?

Just in time for the chorus, the thing worth all this protection is revealed – Naked Caged Taylor!!

But wait she’s a mannequin!

Two kind of robots, separated by glass.

She moves weird! She even has heeled feet! Heeled feet! Definite cyborg.

The camera moves behind Original Robot Taylor’s head, and Naked Caged Cyborg Taylor inexplicably suddenly turns into Octopus-Like Robot Witch Taylor! I am officially lost!

The beat drops and we cut in close to Taylor’s face, see some red flashing lights, and a snake curling up her face. (Cause Taylor and snakes, get it?)

Naked Caged Cyborg Taylor is back!

But wait, now she’s turning into something else – Battle Ready Claw Hand Knife Arm Human Cleavage Taylor!

Wait, now she Naked Caged Cyborg Taylor is back ON A WHITE HORSE. (Cause Taylor and white horses, get it?)

And now it has scales or armour or some shit?

Who is this Orb-Loving Lip Gloss Taylor?

Is she the same as Firefly-Sexual Naked Caged Cyborg Taylor? We can only assume so.

Original Robot Taylor is also drawn to the blue orbs and presses a button on the glass just in time for the line “Are you ready for it?”, hurting Naked Caged Cyborg Taylor.

As the “Baby let the games begin” portion of the song kicks in, Naked Caged Cyborg Taylor starts shooting lightening from her robot hand. Some people think this is a reference to her song with ex Calvin Harris, “This Is What You Came For”.

The robots look at each other. Is this love? Is this an Ex Machina parody? Who can say.

Naked Caged Cyborg Taylor breaks through the glass.

She destroys Original Robot Taylor’s nice face. IS THIS A METAPHOR FOR SELF-DESTRUCTION??

She destroys the security guards we have so come to know and love, and climbs a staircase, nakedly. THE STAIRCASE MAYBE REPRESENTS FAME??? NAKED AMBITION, YOU GUYS? No? Ok.

Original Robot Taylor is burned above graffiti reading, “They’re burning all the witches”. Ugh, the media, am I right?

Naked No-Longer-Caged Cyborg Taylor is overcome with her new found freedom. She looks upon the destruction she has wrought, and smiles.

Her eyes flash blue – she is the new Robot Taylor. Perhaps Original Robot Taylor was never truly the Original at all.

But a single tear rolls down her cheek. (IS SHE ROBOT? OR HUMAN?) Cut to black.

It’s unclear what exactly this is a metaphor for. Is the message that changing personas constantly leads to a kind of self-annihilation? That Taylor is like, a person, not just the robot you think she is? That Taylor is a finally destroying the evil media-trained Taylor and setting her true persona free from its cage? That cycles of reinvention are ultimately an illusion because the self is a mere construct?

The deconstructions are in full swing over on Tumblr. “Taylor sheds one, single tear in RFI music video to remind everyone that she’s not a robot, she’s not a doll, she’s not just a celebrity but mostly she has feelings, she gets affected by hate, she’s like one of us,” one user writes. “She didn’t even realise that she was accepting this creation the media made her to be until her inner self was so compressed that she combusted,” says another. Or, in more detail:

Well, I am as lost as I was at the beginning. Clearly, I was Not …Ready For It.