Taylor Swift is unfortunately all too familiar with the downside of entertainment media and its fantastic ability to make every little thing seem like the world’s biggest catastrophe. In her new video for her latest single, “Delicate,” Swift attempts to give her audience a glimpse of why she decided to hide under the limelight for this past year and what the new experience has been like for her.
The video first premiered at the the iHeartRadio Music Awards last Sunday, and though Swift was not present at the show, she still managed to be the highlight of the night.
In the opening of the video, we see Swift on a red carpet outside of a hotel talking to the press and although she is courteous and polite, the underlying expression on her face seems to me like the face of a tired girl who wants nothing more than to be her unfiltered, true self. But let’s be honest, you and I both know that is not widely popular in the entertainment world. Amidst all the comotion and echoes of reporters yelling her name and asking her for more bubblegum answers that people so desperately feed off of, she is handed a secret note by a stranger.
As she walks through Hotel Delicat (a clever play on the song title), she finally smiles. The one thing she finds joy in is talking to her fans, who are the only people to accept her for simply being her. But alas, moments like those tend to be short lived when you are one of the biggest pop sensations on the planet. I especially love the way she pokes fun at the fact that she cannot be a normal person by walking in different directions and having her bodyguards perfectly mimic her every move, as if they are her inescapable shadow.
She looks at herself through a mirror and practices her smile, the smile that has to be on display at all times when cameras are rolling. She then tries making sillier facial expressions, the ones that best depict her personality, the ones that unfortunately aren’t supposed to make a public appearance.
Through the magic of the note that was handed to her earlier, she suddenly becomes invisible. Her body is present, but no one can see her. If you know about Taylor Swift at all, you know that the magic of the note isn’t put in the video to add pizzazz to a fictional story. It is meant to mirror her life. Just as she had disappeared in the video, she had disappeared for a little over a year in real life as well. During this time, she was able to be her true self, free of the media and the drama and the horrible rumors and accusations that people seem to love to plant on her.
With her newfound freedom, we see her dancing through the hotel, gliding past the bodyguards and the disputing friends and dilemmas that previously held her back in her unseemingly public life. And though she posted a clip of her practicing the dance steps in the video, to me her dancing doesn’t look choreographed or rehearsed, it is just Taylor being pure Taylor, for the first time in a long time. It reminded me of the way she used to dance at award shows, until people critiqued her to the point where she stopped doing so.
Once she feels that her time being invisible is over, she holds the magic note in her hands and walks into a dive bar. She stands hesitantly at the door, her face still lightly soaked from the rain she was dancing in seconds earlier, and she looks out into the distance. This is it, this is her moment. I almost want to reach my hand out for her to hold, just so she feels safer stepping back into the spotlight.
The shy smile that peeks through her face as the video fades out shows her excitement for being able to share her music with the world once again. It also expresses her slight fear because she hopes that people will now accept her for who she really is. She hopes that the reputation the music industry has molded her into having is now in the past. She has chosen to take charge of her life and not let the public feed off of her every move, every relationship, every action and she wants people to respect that decision.
The video is well deserving of praise because of the fact that there was so much more to it than its surface. Many people did not understand why she chose the creative route she did, as opposed to simply making the storyline about a boy who likes her for who she is and include clips of them dancing together in a lovey-dovey stereotypical music video.
However, I feel that her ability to display her past, as well as how she has decided to play out her present, enables people to understand and appreciate what she hopes to gain out of her future. She is an artist. She is meant to inspire, create and share her art. She is not some caged animal put on display for people to glue their eyes to.
This is a new era of Taylor Swift that not many people have seen because the unfiltered version of herself has always been showered by lies and inexplicable hatred. The new single, as well as the whole album, “Reputation,” is geared towards making people understand that she too is a vulnerable human being, with raw emotions and real experiences.