Recently Taylor Swift released the music video for “Blank Space“, the current number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 from her most recent album, 1989. Swift has made history for being the first woman in Billboard history to top her own number one hit, “Shake it Off,” in a matter of weeks. In addition, at the American Music Awards (AMAs), Swift won, on Nov. 23, the Dick Clark Award for Excellence for her recent achievements
Being a huge Swift fan, I watched the video for “Blank Space” seconds after it came out. When I first watched it, I thought it was a beautiful piece of work because of all the outfits she wore; the attractive model Sean O’Pry, who plays her love interest/victim; and the video’s scenery. I also loved how Swift was able to use most of the facts and rumors the media has thrown at her about how all the men she has dated and broken up with to make chart-topping songs about them — fueled from Fearless, Speak Now, and Red — and compile them all into “Blank Space”. It shows that Swift is able to poke fun at herself and look amazing while doing it.
However, the video has some issues you may or may not be aware of.
Even though Swift may be making fun of the rumors that have been said of her being a psychotic, clingy girlfriend, she is also unintentionally bringing light to an issue that not many dare to explore. This is problematic as abusive relationships and mental disorders are no laughing matter.
That can be seen in the scenes where Swift wields a knife while singing, uses a poisoned apple, vandalizes her ex’s car with a golf club and destroys his belongings, which are things women stereotypically do during a fight or after breakups as portrayed by the media and/or in real life, making them seem psychotic. This then equates women who go through breakups with women who have mental disorders as Swift is showing abusive tendencies in her “revenge” which then gets laughed off. The last thing any person wants is for their issues to be laughed off and not taken seriously.
It seems that Swift did not intend for these scenes to offend anyone. They were merely used to poke fun at the rumors she has heard of herself and were inspired by many of the parodies made of her songs (e.g. by Bart Baker and Key of Awesome).
As much as I love Swift, I am aware that she has had some flaws in her songs. From her Fearless days of slut-shaming and the virgin-whore dichotomy to her controversy for using the guys she has supposedly dated and broken up with as subjects for her songwriting in Speak Now and Red, people always had something to talk about when it came to Swift’s songs and what they really mean. Recently, she has been cited to be an ally for feminism, which shows how much she has grown since her self-titled debut album in 2006 when she used to sing in an innocent manner. However, she puts women who may be in unstable relationships or mental disorders in a bad light. It makes it harder for women who are going through a breakup or an abusive relationship to even get over their situation when they are being viewed as crazy, and it can potentially cause women to not get the proper help or support they need if they are being viewed as psychotic.
Even though I enjoyed the music video for “Blank Space,” I do realize that like many music videos, it has various subliminal messages that make us think. Even though it is better than most music videos in how women are not objectified, Swift still brings up stereotypes of the crazy girlfriend. For example, in her AMA performance, Swift stretched even further the crazy girlfriend stereotype by lighting a rose on fire, giving a guy a poisoned apple and punching a guy into mid-air.
As much as I am a fan of Swift and her achievements, the video is still a problem. It then comes to whether this issue will hinder me from continuing to enjoy her art or whether I’ll keep listening to her songs without a care in the world. As a faithful and reasonable fan, I can still love Swift despite her mistakes. After all, singers are human too, and they, too, can mature over time.