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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Taylor Swift ‘shakes off’ haters in cringeworthy music video

Two years after her well-known, annoyingly overplayed album “Red” came out, former country singer Taylor Swift finally released a new single on Aug. 19 for her “Swifties.” “Shake It Off” is an appalling, entertaining-only-to-the-tone-deaf song, and it seems like it will lose her all the fans she gained by converting to mainstream pop music in addition to her old country devotees. 

In the song’s music video, T-Swift hastily changes from a ballerina to a “B-girl” to a modern dancer, all while singing in a dreary voice disguised by an excess of autotune. A few seconds in, and you’re already flinching.

Here’s the thing: Most of us remember her country days, when she sang self-righteously in a virginal white dress about how “your first kiss makes your head spin round” (“Fifteen”). Fast forward five years and you see Swift in a gaudy red ‘80s jacket and leather pants, not to mention her revealing Jennifer Lopez-inspired outfit comprised of a midriff-exposing top and tiny shorts. Her attempt to be the “bad girl,” even with obnoxiously red lipstick, doesn’t cut it, and her “Swifties” are left reeling by the complete abandonment of her original, sentimental country music.

One of the most dreadful parts of the video is undoubtedly Swift’s dancing. It is reminiscent of a one-legged duck; clad in poofy white tutus and tacky gangster outfits, she sways side to side and jumps around breakdancers.  

True, Swift may have chosen to dance badly to make the point that she doesn’t care about what people think of her. Unfortunately, the delivery of her message is just so off-base that her true meaning doesn’t come through. 

By horsing near the other serious dancers, she almost seems to be mocking those who actually work hard to excel in the various types of dance she samples. A better approach might have been to add some narrative so the video makes sense and is consistent with the message of her song. For example, perhaps Swift could be shown learning how to dance, being cruelly criticized by her instructor and “shaking off” the harsh words. 

Instead, she ploughs right through breakdancing and ballet to the inevitable finale: twerking.

Swift twerking is not unique; Miley Cyrus (“We Can’t Stop”) made it famous in 2013. But for someone who said that she has to “choose [her] words and actions carefully” regarding her role-model status, she isn’t showing it. She doesn’t look much like her teen CoverGirl self. 

In the final scene, Swift crawls through a tunnel of female dancers barely clad in Daisy Dukes. And, of all the moments in the video, this one was chosen to be the video thumbnail. It’s as if Swift and her team are trying to provoke a controversial reaction. 

And for what? This scene blatantly objectifies and sexualizes women. Swift is the only character depicted as a human, for we can listen to her thoughts and emotions. In contrast, the back-up dancers are portrayed as objects filmed from the waist down. 

During the bridge of the song, she stops singing and embarks on a spoken rant about an unnamed ex-boyfriend. Just like in “Better than Revenge,” in which she blames her breakup solely on her ex’s new girlfriend, Swift shows she still hasn’t learned how to get over breakups. 

She sings, “I’m just going to shake until the fella over there … why don’t you come over here, we can shake, shake, shake.” But this isn’t the right message because it has nothing to do with her theme, which is “shaking off the haters” and simply being yourself. What Swift instead describes is an irrational act aimed at making an ex-boyfriend jealous, not a healthy way of dealing with the end of a relationship. 

Even if Swift finally made her point by the end of the video, Swift’s message to “shake off the haters” has already clearly been made in her previous four albums. She sang about it in “Mean,” “Picture to Burn” and “Better than Revenge,” and it’s getting old.
This is not to say that Swift’s song lacks all value. After watching this music video far too many times for the sake of this story, we are more than happy to take her advice and “shake off” the memory of her worst song yet. 

Yes, haters are going to hate (hate, hate, hate, hate).


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