Taylor Swift is the queen of easter eggs. From planting the name of her forthcoming album in the background of a music video to scattering tiny details about her love life, she’s known for planting some inception-level clues in her work that often reveal her inner thoughts and true feelings. In fact, it’s safe to say that when it comes to her music videos specifically, *everything* has meaning.
And the singer may have just released her most meaningful video yet. On February 27, Swift released the music video for her song “The Man.” The singer’s latest feminist anthem from her 2019 album Lover is essentially a laundry list of the double standards and sexism women face in all areas of their lives for, well, just being women. The lyrics—and TSwift—don’t hold back, calling out actor Leonardo DiCaprio and his ability to date exclusively younger women with few repercussions (while a woman would be considered a cougar) and the fact that assertive women are called bossy while men are bosses. So it’s no surprise that Swift’s accompanying video would do the same—and she delivered some visuals that were *pretty* telling.
Because the entire vid is basically a fuck you to any and all men who have wronged her (and some of her friends). From references to Kanye West and their ongoing feud to a super subtle (read: literal) sign about music manager Scooter Braun and his ownership of Swift’s older work, the singer did not hold back. Don’t believe us? Well then you’re not looking hard enough. Here are all the signs you might have missed in Taylor Swift’s “The Man” music video.
The “no scooters” sign
Arguably the most poignant message in the vid comes within the first few moments when the audience is being introduced to “the man” (who TBH, seems like a grade A ding-dong) as he makes his way onto the subway. The imagery is HEAVY with this one, folks! Aside from the name of the station (13th Street Station, 13 being TSwift’s lucky number), the shot features the names of some of Swift’s iconic past albums like 1989 and Speak Now spray painted in graffiti on the wall. Which is fun, but you might be asking—so what? Well, look a little further and you can see that a prominent sign on the wall bears the symbol of a scooter with a cross through it. As in no scooters. And no, this isn’t discrimination against scooter riders everywhere—it’s 100% a reference to Scooter Braun.
— ????, Benjy ? (@likepaperrings) February 27, 2020
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ICYMI, Braun and Swift have been in a legal battle over the issue of artist’s rights since June 2019, after Braun paid $300 million to acquire Swift’s former label, Big Machine, which gave him ownership over the singer’s first six studio albums. Swift claimed that she had no idea this sale was happening and wasn’t even given the opportunity to purchase her work. And in November 2019, the singer accused both Braun and her former label’s chief executive, Scott Borchetta, of barring her from performing any of her old songs at the American Music Awards (something Braun and Big Machine both denied), writing in a tweet: “This is WRONG. Neither of these men had a hand in the writing of those songs. They did nothing to create the relationship I have with my fans.”
Don’t know what else to do pic.twitter.com/1uBrXwviTS
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) November 14, 2019
In the end, Swift *did* perform her songs at the AMAs, but it’s safe to say that she’s not over it (as she shouldn’t be). The “No Scooter” sign, coupled with the names of her previous albums (all owned by Braun), and the additional “Missing” sign (which asks that if found, all albums be returned to Taylor Swift), is a pretty blatant message to Braun and Big Machine that they—and any man—shouldn’t own a woman’s work.
And because Braun is far from the first man to try to take advantage of Swift’s hard work, fans are treated to *another* easter egg aimed at one Kanye West. What might look like an innocent-ish scene of “the man” waking up and looking at his reflection in the mirror takes on a bit more meaning when you catch a glimpse of his bedside companion. Does anyone else think that the naked, slumbering, almost wax-like brunette figure looks *a lot* like Kim Kardashian West? Because I do!
And the reference makes sense. If you remember, West—KKW’s hubby—infamously featured a nude, wax figure of Swift in his music video for “Famous.” Like Swift’s newest vid, West’s 2016 work featured the TSwift lookalike sleeping beside West and alongside other famous celebs, as the artist rapped: “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex/Why? I made that bitch famous.”
The lyrics and the video were the controversy that re-launched the artist’s then-dormant feud, after Swift alleged that while she’d heard and approved the first line (you know, the one where West says he as Swift might sleep together, eye roll), she hadn’t heard and wouldn’t have approved the line about West making her famous. She later called West out at the 2016 Grammys, telling young women in her acceptance speech for Album of the Year, “there will be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame. But if you just focus on the work…you will look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you that put you there.”
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And the Kanye drags don’t end there. Because “the man” steps right out of his KKW-inhabited bedroom and into a hall that looks eerily familiar to another famous hallway…specifically, the monastery-like hallway from hell in the Kardashian-West household. Which cannot just be a coincidence, because no normal human has that horror movie hallway in their home. Tell me this doesn’t look like something from The Nun?!
The tennis court
And because TSwift is all about girl power, it comes as no surprise that she would turn to other famous women when trying to illustrate her point about double standards. Specifically, Swift references her friend Serena Williams’s now infamous, and much criticized, September 2018 reaction to a referee call at the U.S. Open. During the final of that year’s open, Williams received a coaching violation, which led the player to shout at the ref and have what some outlets described as a meltdown. I’d probably suggest she’s just passionate and that a man with the same reaction wouldn’t have been called the same—but who am I to say?
Well Swift seems to agree. Her music video features “the man” in a similar situation to Williams, except he spirals into a full-on freakout culminating in the actor walking offstage, where an awaiting Swift (in a director’s chair) asks him to be “more sexy and likeable,” clearly a dig at the standards women are held to that demands they be likeable and palatable in every situation—even when they’re upset.
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And finally, the biggest middle finger comes in the form of the credits for the video which, along with showing Swift’s transformation into “the man,” highlight the fact that the singer had a hand in literally every aspect of the video. From writing to directing, Swift is the only name credited (which, kudos to you girl). And the most powerful moment comes with one of the final credits: Owned by Taylor Swift flashes across the screen.
DIRECTED BY: TAYLOR SWIFT
WRITTEN BY: TAYLOR SWIFT
OWNED BY: TAYLOR SWIFT
STARRING: TAYLOR SWIFT
— Taylor Swift Facts (@blessedswifty) February 27, 2020
Swift is finally unapologetically speaking up in every area of her life and taking credit for what’s hers—and no one can take that away from her.
We always knew @taylorswift13 was a genius but here she is thriving on a whole new level. I’ve always respected her as an artist and human but the message she’s sending with #TheMan is perhaps more poignant and POWERFUL than anything she’s done before. Taylor IS the man.?????? pic.twitter.com/e1J8QKGkVp
— Katie Krause (@Katie_Krause) February 27, 2020
Quick q: has anyone checked on Kanye West?