Taylor Swift Is Defiant In Video For ‘Look What You Made Me Do’

I’m not a huge fan of the Tay-Tay brand but I’m partial to some pop, so when ‘Look What You Made Me Do‘ debuted on YouTube, I admit to clicking the sideways triangle with a little intrigue. The song title reminds me of a phrase an abuser would use but I’m aware that’s something for her PR exec to regret and for me to blithely accept. It’s all so meta that it only requires a surface level viewing. For example, she literally stands in front of a T/cross while previous music video incarnations clamour beneath her feet because she wants us to be aware of how she’s been crucified. If I were a woman of the cloth I would call it blasphemy. But I’m not, so we’re cool. And Madonna did it first anyway.

Musicians are clearly starting to take cues from masters of reinvention such as David Bowie and Madonna, as more of them use chameleon tactics to create a long-lasting career. Taylor’s fierce intelligence is what makes her mini film so compelling – the opportunity for double meaning is both plentiful and plausible. And what does her millennial fan-base love to do more than over-analyse? One devoted ‘Swiftie’ gave a detailed analysis of the symbolism on show, and if I didn’t miss A level English Literature before reading their comment, I sure do now. Those essays were like a free ticket to overthink. I applaud her for standing up for herself because it’s not easy to do in the face of gender stereotypes and covert misogyny.

Setting the tone for the mini film, Taylor literally rises up from the dead (honey I do it all the time) from a gravestone emblazoned with ‘Taylor Swift’s reputation‘. If I had to transcribe said Swiftie’s analysis into a Sparknotes webpage, my first sub-heading under ‘THEMES’ would be ‘Re-birth’. I imagine the theme will run throughout her new album. If only there were some clues as to what the album name is…

 

IMAGERY: Snakes. Just before the video release, I read a compelling argument for Taylor Swift to be heralded as a Slytherin as her hallmark traits are ambition, cunning, self-image, loyalty and revenge. And here she is, representin’ in full bloom. The ‘Kimye’ feud shrouded Taylor in suspicion: Kanye called her a ‘bitch’ in his song Famous. After Taylor expressed her discomfort, Kim released a secret recording of T.S giving Kanye permission to name-drop her in this way. Vilified for changing her mind in what many saw as a tactical move, snake emojis appeared everywhere. This is her wearing that criticism like a badge of honour:

 

heart ts
A reference to ex Tom Hiddleston

The ‘I love TS’ top is an allusion to how everyone thought she orchestrated her relationship with Tom Hiddleston for publicity; as though her love life is merely masterminded in order to advance her career and the men she dates are innocent victims. Unlike Calvin Harris, there’s nothing vengeful against this particular ex-boyfriend as they didn’t have any bad blood between them. #katyperrytho

Maybe my favourite throwback is to her ‘squad’. Dressed as though she’s making another Victoria’s Secret appearance, a legion of scantily clad robots line up before her. Their identical clothing and ‘thin white female’ bodies highlight the criticism she received for ‘setting a bad example to young girls’ as it appeared to many that she was trying to create a clan of ‘mean girls’. Once again she plays into the insults thrown at her: the Regina George that Katy Perry labelled her as being; the conceited girl who only hangs out with models.

 

Much of Swift’s power lies in her ability to poke fun at herself: she seems familiar with the idea that if you own your flaws, they can’t be used against you. In essence, she’s taking control of her reputation. Hierarchies permeate society from class to race to gender, and as the ‘other’ gender, we disallow women (especially in the media) to be multi-faceted individuals. When they defy the labels given to them, they are seen as fake. Hence the dialogue at the end, where she echoes the put-downs leveled at her before screaming at herself to ‘shut up!’. She’s used her smarts to hint at the way women are silenced and berated for almost anything outside of quiet complicity with however they’re treated. I’m happy that in 2017, people still make music videos that challenge our perceptions. It’s all performance anyway, right?

“I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me

I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams”

tstststs

Advertisements

The Ferris Bueller Theory You Haven’t Heard Before…

Hughes is a teen-flick King in the mind of many film fans, perhaps due to his sincere compassion for the alienation of adolescence. His 80s era films received cult status in the years after their release, and each one was written by a 30-something year old man.

Image result for ferris bueller's day offFerris Bueller’s Day Off is basically ‘some guys have all the luck‘ for 1 hour and 43 minutes. Released in 1986, it has most of the hallmarks of a John Hughes movie: a self-aware lead character, witty dialogue, anti-authoritarianism etc., and yet it’s more optimistic than his usual efforts. The protagonist in his golden era of film would typically be a misunderstood outcast from a lower-middle class home undergoing high school trauma but Ferris Bueller breaks this mold completely. Ferris is a rich kid loved by everybody, spanning from the police department to those he manipulates in ‘junior’ year. He is an ‘everyman’* who gets what he wants and doesn’t face the consequences -an interesting morality when you see it on the page but on the big screen you accept his antics as harmless fun.

A character more in keeping with the Hughes catalogue is the ‘always sick’ (and probably clinically depressed) Cameron Frye. The most famous theory about the film is centred around this down-trodden dude and his penchant for self-pity. It has long been said that Cameron imagines the eventful ‘day off’ from his bed and Ferris is merely a figment of his imagination; the happy-go-lucky guy he wishes he could be. Sloane is supposedly based on a girl he fancies from afar in school, so she takes her place as his alter-ego’s lover. The crux of this conspiracy can be summarised by the phrase ‘…and it was all a dream’.

I think it’s a bittersweet idea, but also totally bogus.

In her book, Life Moves Pretty Fast: The lessons we learned from eighties movies (and why we Image result for ferris bueller's day offdon’t learn them from movies any more)’, Hadley Freeman points out that ‘only a teenager could think that Ferris is cool’ since his hedonism comes from a place of arrogance and immaturity. When you’re a teenager living out the mundanity of high school without much attention, you envy the ‘popular’ people because they get a reaction from everybody – some people look back at their school days and recall the misery of feeling invisible. John Hughes was one of these introspective types, so instead of creating a main character close to his teenage self again, he imagined what it would have been like if he experienced the notoriety other kids enjoyed. And thus, Ferris Bueller was born.

To add credence to this idea, all of Hughes’ teenage melodramas were based on his hometown of Chicago and filmed in surrounding areas to reflect the class divide he witnessed as he grew up. As a child, Hughes recalled his own solo trips to the art gallery frequented by the trio onscreen, adding The Smiths contemporary melancholy to give it the perfect soundtrack. By including such a scene Hughes was able to revisit these moments from a more carefree perspective – and in this film, perception is key. Ferris makes a speech during the parade aimed at Cameron’s self-imposed misery: “I’d like to dedicate it to a young man who doesn’t think he’s seen anything good today”.

 It hardly stretches the imagination to say that writing allows you to live vicariously through an imaginary realm, and with Ferris, he visualised an adolescence he wished was his own, if only he wasn’t trapped in the self-hatred typified in the familiar angst of Cameron. 

Image result for ferris bueller car
Beaut.

Maybe Ferris Bueller wrapped up his inner work in solving the injustices he experienced as a young’un in America, and he felt like the tone change was an appropriate place to say ‘Danke Schoen’ to all the audience members allowing him to grow up again.

 

*(An everyman is a misguided term referring to the supposedly normal privilege a person enjoys for being a white middle class man)

Music videos of my childhood in the 1990s: Aerosmith – Crazy

Aerosmith: Crazy

My view of this mini-movie has evolved since childhood: somehow, the sleaziness of wanting your 17 year old daughter to star in a puerile fetishization of lesbianism only became apparent to me over time. (Here’s looking at you, Steven Tyler). As a child, I missed the implied lust in this 6 minute jaunt-around-town. Little me chose to just see ‘Aerosmith chick’ Alicia Silverstone breaking free from the oppressive school regime alongside her fun-loving pal, and longed to be a part of their world.

I just figured it got really warm in America land.

First stop on the mini road trip? Steal numerous sunglasses from a petrol station while an indifferent shop worker aids your thievery. 1993/4 was a renaissance period for Aerosmith, enabling the Toxic Twins: Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, to rake in dollars like it was still Ye Olden Days. However time is cruel and this era could now be considered retro, while viewers wonder why the pair would steal in front of CCTV so brazenly. Sike! Not every shop had CCTV cameras in the 20th century; the only lens they were performing for was the male gaze. *Mic drop*

Rad: suited-up Silverstone rebelling with her exhibitionist friend

But whatever, it still looks like a party to me! A photobooth, androgyny on Silverstone’s part, and the expert pranking of a semi-naked farmer; a portrait of reckless youth. When I was a young’un, music videos were only shown at random on the TV, and therefore my emotional attachment to this tale of two runaways grew stronger for every hour I sat in waiting. Other entertaining events unfold, including a pole-dancing Liv Tyler mimicking the Aerosmith front man perfectly because he is literally her dad. There’s also some skinny-dipping in a lake – shedding our protagonists of all that 90s denim. After the fun is had, ‘Crazy’ is furrowed into a field by farmer boy’s driver-less tractor as the girls ignore a hitchhiker in pursuit of more adventure. Badasses’ with top banter, before anyone used that word in earnest. Oh, what happy days they were. Proceed to the video link below:

Aerosmith – Crazy. (1994)