Finally, ladies and gentleman, the Taylor Swift we have all been waiting for. Off of her new and stylistically different album, the music video for “Blank Space” dropped on November 10 after being leaked on Yahoo.
Of course, Swift sings a tale of lost love. Some things never change. But what’s unexpected? Well, just about everything else. Gone are the days of princess ball gowns and high-school crushes. Instead we see Swift as the adult she has grown up to be and artist she is on her way to becoming.
The video opens with professional model Sean O’Pry, whose face alone is worth the four-minute time investment of watching it. He glides through the gates of a fabulous mansion in an AC Cobra sports car. And it only gets better from there. A montage of date clichés ensues, as the couple falls in love over dinner, dancing, and portrait painting, all on the grounds of a magnificent estate. The entire video is a glorious portrayal of excess: money, beauty and perhaps even love.
Swift struts around the mansion grounds with her new metaphoric boyfriend and various animal companions, wearing envy-inducing outfits, riding white stallions, and carving their names into trees, all the while lamenting her “long list of ex-lovers.” But it’s when things start to go horribly wrong in the video that things start to go wonderfully right for the audience.
After she catches him texting another girl, we are rewarded with the perverse joy of watching the relationship unravel, once again in excess. Swift throws a potted plant, cuts and burns his clothes, and drops his phone in a fountain.
But that’s not all. That tree with their names enclosed in hearts? She takes an ax and tries to chop it down. The portrait of him? She shreds it with a knife so it will match the defaced pictures of all her former flames. And that gorgeous AC Cobra? She viciously attacks it with a golf club.
While this may seem tragically dramatic, that’s the whole point. That girl who used to cry because she was 15 and dumped by the boy on the football team? She’s gone. And she has been replaced with this sassier, less optimistic, and overall much more mature young artist. Although Swift may be throwing temper tantrums on-screen, in her own life she is facing the realities that come with growing up, especially in the Hollywood spotlight.
“Blank Space” is surely one of the best songs on the album, an album as different from Red as Red is from its predecessors. The filmography is elegant, from the landscapes to the suits and Louboutins to the signature red lipstick and the sweet candy hearts. But what is truly striking is the way Swift interacts with the viewers. She is playing the boy-loving, relationship-destroying caricature that the media makes her out to be. She is winking at the camera and having fun with it the whole way, even as she repeats the cycle by welcoming a brand new model suitor into her mansion just as the video ends.
This is the Taylor Swift we think of as a role model. The one who can be as self-deprecating as she is in the background comments of her last album’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and the one who can “shake it off” when the criticism isn’t relevant. She has learned from some of her mistakes, as she proves in “Blank Space.” And that is to be applauded.
As she lays on the floor with only a deer for company, makeup running down her facing and cursing the men who ruined her mascara, you can see the parody she’s created of herself. This time, however, the joke is definitely not on her as she defiantly stares into the camera and repeats the claim of her long list of ex-lovers: “they’ll tell you I’m insane.”
Well, ex-lovers, I have to agree with you on that one; Swift certainly is insane. But, like, in the best possible way.