Taylor Swift caused a social media storm when she released her "Look What You Made Me Do" video at the 2017 MTV VMAs. The lead single from her much-anticipated follow-up to 1989 was panned by some critics, with USA Today saying it "isn't smart – it's just petty." But every die-hard Swifty knows that the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. If there's anything Taylor Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do" succeeds at (other than sticking in your head), it's the way it tears at Swift's many demons – and none more so than her infamous feuds with Kayne West and Katy Perry.
In "Look What You Made Me Do," Taylor Swift seemingly says goodbye to the parts of herself that were kind, compassionate and understanding. The Taylor Swift who wrote "Innocent," the heartfelt ballad forgiving Kayne West for the 2009 VMAs moment that launched a thousand memes, is dead. The new Swift rests on a throne engulfed in snakes, robs banks, and swims in a bathtub filled with diamonds.
In decoding "Look What You Made Me Do," fans uncover a wealth of references to the public battles Swift has endured, including her 2017 sexual harassment lawsuit against a Denver radio DJ. Swift makes it clear that she's not shaking it off this time, but she also makes sure not to take herself too seriously. While the references in "Look What You Made Me Do" are calculated, she teases past iterations of herself with savage humor.
Here are the many "Look What You Made Me Do" references. Some may be intentional, some may be pure coincidence, but all of them are biting and sharp-witted, crowning Taylor Swift the true Queen of the Snakes.
The snakes surrounding the throne are obvious – Swift's reclaiming the emoji fans used to bash her during the #KimExposedTaylorParty. What's less obvious is the engraving on the arm of the her throne that reads "Et tu Brute." This is a quote from William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, meaning "Even you, Brutus?" Caesar uttered this phrase as he realized his closest friend, Brutus, was among those stabbing him to death.
At the end of the video, the past versions of Swift bicker with each other while standing in front of a private airplane. But there's also one little Swift hiding in the back who doesn't look anything like the caricatures standing up front. Fans have speculated that this is a reference to the real Taylor Swift – the one who hides in the background and isn't portrayed in the media.
"I don't like your kingdom keys / They once belonged to me / You ask me for a place to sleep / Locked me out and threw a feast." In this part of the song, Swift references someone she used to be friendly with and conjures up images of "Bad Blood," the song famously about her feud with Katy Perry. It should also be noted that Perry's single "Bon Appétit" was literally about having a feast. In the video, Perry is the one they're feasting on.
Fans have heard about Swift's list of names before, in 1989's "Blank Space." Previously, it referred to her "long list of ex-lovers," and that may still be the case (could this line be about Calvin Harris or Tom Hiddleston?). It may also be about her longtime enemy Katy Perry. "Red, underlined" definitely conjures up images of the Burn Book from Mean Girls, in which Regina George's name is underlined in red. Katy Perry once called Swift "Regina George in sheep's clothing."