The scope of Taylor Swift as an artist and as a woman has culminated in “Bad Blood,” a music video that marks Swift’s transition from damsel in distress to full-on action hero.
Our first recollections of Swift were her music videos filled with Romeo and Juliet references, knights on white horses and girls waiting around for a boy to finally “notice” them. While this is what Swift was writing songs about, it was in total juxtaposition to what she was actually doing in the music industry as a female. At 19, she became the youngest singer to win Entertainer of the Year at the CMA Awards, she has been writing all her own songs since the age of 14 and selling out arenas with just a guitar. In “Bad Blood,” Swift and her many famous friends, become the kick-ass women they are in the real world. The much-hyped music video, which featured over 20 posters on her Instagram page leading up to the big reveal at the Billboard Music Awards, is the female action movie we have been waiting for. As Spencer Kornhaber said in The Atlantic:
“This is a fun imagining of an action-movie universe where women rule, a corrective to the Smurfette syndrome that, for example, forces Black Widow into being defined almost entirely by her entire gender while the men of ‘The Avengers’ enjoy a diverse set of storylines. All the ‘Bad Blood’ women have their own signature powers, gear, and personas—imagine that!”
Zendaya, Gigi Hadid, Karlie Kloss, Lily Aldridge, Martha Hunt, Lena Dunham, Jessica Alba (and the list goes on and on) aren’t just pretty faces waiting for a man to come save them. They are independent, bazooka-holding forces of nature that are walking through fire, explosions and other crazy visual effects to complete their goals.
Sure the video has its share of clichés, like Hadid’s compact-turned-throwing star or the notion that girls are catty and just can’t get along, but the bigger picture is so much more important. Swift is the anti-damsel in distress. She got kicked out of a glass window, picked herself back up and fought back. No more waiting on her balcony for the prince to slay the dragon. Would we have preferred that the dragon was something other than another woman? Sure, but again, the bigger picture is all about girl power, and hey just like male superheros have enemies, females can too.
Swift’s public persona has been infamously defined by her “boy-crazy” reputation, and she has made no qualms about the sexist questions and jokes she has endured about her dating life and her tendency to turn break ups into record-breaking albums. Just look at the list of song titles from her earlier albums, “Fearless” and “Speak Now,” like ‘Love Story,’ White Horse’ or ‘The Story of Us.’ It’s easy to see why pigeon-holing Swift into the “hopeless romantic” category was natural. But her most recent album “1989” says goodbye to that curly-haired country singer and ‘Bad Blood’ is the icing on the cake.
So how did Taylor Swift finally become the feminist we always knew she was?
This is the same Swift who was one asked if she was a feminist and responded by saying, “I don’t really think about things as guys versus girls,” she told The Daily Beast. “I never have. I was raised by parents who brought me up to think if you work as hard as guys, you can go far in life.”
One of the stars of this music video opened Swift’s eye, and is responsible for Swift’s transition. In an interview with The Guardian Swift said:
“As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities. What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means. For so long it’s been made to seem like something where you’d picket against the opposite sex, whereas it’s not about that at all. Becoming friends with Lena – without her preaching to me, but just seeing why she believes what she believes, why she says what she says, why she stands for what she stands for – has made me realize that I’ve been taking a feminist stance without actually saying so.”
Whatever the social epithet, it is nice to see Swift not only taking that feminist stance but lighting it on fire and removing all doubt.