Blank Space

I like Taylor Swift’s PV/MV for her new song, Blank Space. I liked the song on the CD when I heard it, and the video is awesome.

Of course, first I thought: I do want the house, and those clothes. And are those grounds CGI-ed the way almost the entire of the film Great Gatsby was? (I thought the actors in that film were amazing, in part also because they were essentially green-screening their way; I felt endlessly sorry for Leo di Caprio that he wasn’t allowed to wallow in actual luxury, but was just in front of a set and then a window and a green screen wall. There is pain in knowing that when he is bid farewell by Tobey Maguire at a bridge, it is a fake bridge surrounded by fake shrubbery and a green screen. But hey, that’s art, and the CGI was marvellous.)

But this PV grows on rewatching. It grows layers. It is a thousand sensations that feel like references, because of the clothes, and the scenery. Today she is an ingénue (but the clothes are a hint) and by the end of the PV it’s like…Miss Havisham and Estella. The girl and boy run across the grounds and he is dressed like a modern Heathcliff; and then next moment, she is painting a portrait of eternal youth. There’s something very Daphne du Maurier about the feel (gothic?)–lavish and dark, and mildly grotesque. And there’s a wink in everything. It doesn’t get too serious–it has its moments of dark humour, particularly one of her more indirect methods of revenge, and in the speeding up of her frantic madness. Oh! and the fight, where he bemusedly mouths exactly the words that are being sung. There are parts that actually need rewatching, so that they can sink in: the apple reversing itself out of his mouth, and the portrait bleeding.

I think it’s a sort of a step up from the less subtle, less tongue-in-cheek You Belong to Me, though I like that video and song too.

There will someday be questions about misogyny, like “Hey, is that a reference to Tiger Woods’ wife?” or “How come you are playing that mad-angry-woman thing again?” But I think that’s missing the point. What this is is a movie of its own, and the lyrics are, as the hint in the lyric booklet says, about how there once was a girl known by everyone and no one. This is a reply to what people say of her, e.g. Tina Fey — “lock up your boy, Taylor Swift is in the house”. It’s a big backhand whack to all that, turned up loud to say: Look into the funhouse mirror and see how silly your words look.

Hats off.


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