Don’t mess with Taylor Swift.
That’s the takeaway from Swift’s much-awaited music video (see below) for her latest single, “Bad Blood,” which aired at the top of the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night. For days, Swift has been tweeting mysterious, scary-looking clues about the video to her 57 million followers, and Internet anticipation reached a fever pitch over the weekend.
The song is widely known to be about Swift’s feud with pop star Katy Perry. In typical Swift fashion, she never mentions Perry by name, but has dropped enough clues in interviews that it’s fairly obvious that the former friends had a falling-out. Even Perry braced herself when word of the song emerged.
However, there’s a deeper meaning of what the whole “Bad Blood” video frenzy means. If you missed it, the plot is an action movie that starts as Selena Gomez (alter ego “Arsyn”) goes to battle and pushes Swift out of a window. Swift is unscathed as she spends the rest of the video recuperating and training for revenge, with the help of her fellow warriors/pals. The all-female army of supermodels and actresses marches across an abandoned city, a huge fire blazing in the background as they go to fight Swift’s enemy once more.
But beneath the sleek action-movie video production values, Swift sends a rather chilling underlying message about power in Hollywood: In case you didn’t know it before, she truly has become of the most powerful women in show business. So you shouldn’t even bother to go up against her. Because you will lose.
Why else would she gather a collection of stars across all genres, all ages and all walks of life to come together as she sings a song about an enemy? The video featured quite the range of celebrities: Some of her well-documented best friends, including supermodels Karlie Kloss, Gigi Hadid, Martha Hunt, Lily Aldridge and Cara Delevingne. There were singers: Selena Gomez, Hayley Williams and Ellie Goulding. There were actresses: Jessica Alba, Hailee Steinfeld, Zendaya Coleman, Lena Dunham and Serayah McNeill. Cindy Crawford was there for some reason. Plus, Swift’s favorite TV stars and cat namesakes, Mariska Hargitay (“Law & Order: SVU”) and Ellen Pompeo (“Grey’s Anatomy”). The whole song also happened to be a Kendrick Lamar remix.
With her star-studded lineup, Swift is letting everyone know that she has the access, status and power to land a slew of top celebrities who will drop everything to do her a favor — not to mention appear in a video that requires some of them to dress up in leather outfits and throw weapons.
These high-profile names are now really part of Swift’s “chosen ones” squad, which comes with its own financial and career benefits. Also very much implied: These group members will always be on her side and her defenders no matter what. That’s the assumed trade-off of being in Team Swift. It’s a coveted role, but one that comes with the expectation that you will always be Team Swift. If not… well, just see the fiery video inspired by whatever former friend Katy Perry did.
In other words, the “Bad Blood” video not-so-subtly serves as a warning that she doesn’t take kindly to people who turn against her, and she has some extremely influential people to back her up on that. And if this video teaches us anything, Taylor Swift is not someone who you want to have as an enemy.