In the four-minute visual, Swift explores several scenarios from the point of view of a powerful white male. The “Lover” singer’s male persona is able to do as he pleases and get away with things without facing consequences, including urinating in public at a subway station. The video also sees the character partying on a yacht with a bevy of models, acting arrogant in his place of work, throwing a fit during a tennis match and being championed as “World’s Greatest Dad” after he was shown ignoring his daughter moments earlier.
Swift, herself, hops out of the director’s seat by the video’s end to give some constructive criticism to the man over his performance. He walks away thereafter, and fans then get to see several photos that depicted the step-by-step progression of the Cats actress transforming into the titular man.
Swift’s latest video even references her feud with Scooter Braun, who acquired her former label, Big Machine Records, last June — a purchase that also gave him ownership of the Grammy winner’s master recordings. When the fictional character opts to publicly urinate at 13th Street Station, the man is surrounded by Swift’s album titles graffitied onto the wall.
He’s also facing the word “karma,” while a sign nearby reads: “Missing. If found, return to Taylor Swift.” There is also a sign with a scooter that features the “no” symbol around it. (FYI: The “ME!” hitmaker’s lucky number is also 13.)
“The Man” is a track from Swift’s seventh studio album, Lover, which debuted in August 2019. The song sees Swift envisioning the things she could get away with if she were a man instead of a woman. The single’s chorus goes, “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can / Wondering if I’d get there quicker if I was a man / And I’m so sick of them coming at me again / ‘Cause if I was a man, then I’d be the man.”
Speaking to Billboard in December 2019, Swift opened up about what led her to pen the track. She revealed that she was inspired by aspects from her personal experience but also things women, in general, have experienced.
“So many of these things are ingrained in even women, these perceptions, and it’s really about re-training your own brain to be less critical of women when we are not criticizing men for the same things,” she explained at the time. “So many things that men do, you know, can be phoned-in that cannot be phoned-in for us.”
Swift continued, “We have to really — God, we have to curate and cater everything, but we have to make it look like an accident. Because if we make a mistake, that’s our fault, but if we strategize so that we won’t make a mistake, we’re calculating.”
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