Don’t worry. You’re not alone if you watched Taylor Swift’s new music video and your reaction was “What – what was that?”
On the surface, the video is a bit confusing. The rap-infused song, “… Ready For It?” (the second track released from Swift’s upcoming sixth studio album, Reputation), seems like it’s about a relationship. But the video is an elaborate, slickly-produced sci-fi film that stars Swift as two versions of herself: One is an evil smirking robot dressed all in black, and the other is a cyborg/mannequin trapped in a glass case.
The video is a struggle between robot Swift, who controls everything, and mannequin Swift, who desperately wants to get out of her cage. Lots of lightning is involved. At one point, mannequin Swift appears on a white horse.
Then mannequin Swift goes scorched earth and lets out a mighty roar, which blows up the glass and destroys robot Swift.
Afterward, robot Swift is electrocuted while standing on a platform that reads, “They’re burning all the witches.”
It all ends as mannequin Swift climbs a set of stairs, her eyes glowing as she basks in newfound freedom, as a single tear runs down her face.
As soon as the video was released Thursday night, the internet was abuzz with theories about the real meaning. In true Swiftian fashion, the pop star didn’t spill any details – though she did provide helpful clues in the form of “liking” certain Tumblr posts, in which fans posted their interpretations.
So, according to Swift’s Tumblr “likes,” here are a few of the messages behind the truly bonkers video:
This is an in-depth version of a rapidly-circulating theory, which is that the robot dressed in black represents the media’s version of “evil” Swift, the one who is seen as a “snake” after some celebrity feuds. Apparently, this has gone on for too long, so now it’s time for the real Swift to rise from the ashes and flourish on her own terms.
Some fans agree that the white horse could be a callback to Swift’s Grammy-winning song “White Horse” from her second album, Fearless. Except this time, Swift doesn’t need a savior – she can save herself.
Swift has experienced so much criticism lately that her “Look What You Made Me Do” video (the first single from her upcoming album) features a tombstone that reads “Here lies Taylor Swift’s reputation.” Now, “… Ready For It?” might be trying to remind people that, beneath her armor as a superstar, she’s still a real person with actual feelings.
Finally, the video’s director, Joseph Kahn, helped shed some light by retweeting several other explanations:
— Chris (@ChrisCrocker) October 27, 2017
WHO FREED TAYLOR SWIFT? TAYLOR SWIFT. #ReadyForItMusicVideo
— Alex Goldschmidt (@alexandergold) October 27, 2017
— Zainub Amir (@zainubamir) October 27, 2017