Cigar smoking, manspreading and relieving herself in a subway station? Not exactly the sort of behavior you’d expect from Taylor Swift, and that’s the point of her new music video for “The Man.”
In order to illustrate the double standards between what behaviors are often excusable for men and damning for women, the superstar singer-songwriter does all of that and more in the clip — but you’d never know it was her doing it, thanks to a completely convincing disguise.
In the video for “The Man,” Swift actually becomes the man to deliver her message.
“I'd be a fearless leader/ I'd be an alpha type,” the 30-year-old’s lyrics ring out while she-as-he fist-bumps and self-aggrandizes through an office packed with cheering employees.
Throughout, Swift paints a picture of what she sees as hypocrisy, from a male tennis star being allowed to have a “mantrum” on the court without criticism to displays of love-them-and-leave-them behavior being celebrated.
“What's it like to brag about raking in dollars/ And getting b----es and models?/ And it's all good if you're bad /And it's OK if you're mad,” she belts out. “If I was out flashin' my dollas/ I'd be a b----, not a baller/ They'd paint me out to be bad/ So it's OK that I'm mad.”
After the music stops, Swift’s male alter ego walks off set and has a chat with director-Swift, who tells him to try again and gives him the sort of feedback she’s heard before: “Could you try to be sexier? Maybe more likable this time?”
That brief interaction between the two Swifts did more than tee up that point-making remark. It also gave viewers a chance to hear “The Man’s” speaking voice — a deep baritone that definitely doesn’t belong to the hit-maker.
As the credits reveal, it’s the voice of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and he’s not the only one to make a surprise contribution for the video.
Swift’s own father, Scott Kingsley Swift, appears as the much-abused umpire in the aforementioned tennis scene.
In fact, there’s a whole host of treats for eagle-eyed fans in what Swift herself referred to as an “Easter egg”-filled video during a live chat with fans on YouTube just an hour before “The Man” dropped.
While the hidden gems are scattered throughout the video, we recommend taking an especially close look at that subway station scene, which starts around 50 seconds in. That’s where Swift’s album titles, including “Fearless,” “Speak Now,” “Red,” “1989” and “Reputation,” are seen written out on the walls as graffiti.
Those studio releases are the ones she recorded under contract with Big Machine Records. When Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings acquired Big Machine — and with it, Swift's masters — it sparked a bitter public back-and-forth between Swift and Braun. That explains why the tag “KARMA” is spray painted above the record titles, as well the presence of two not-so-subtle signs that flank them.
One sign reads, “Missing: If found, return to Taylor Swift,” while the other is a graphic of a scooter with a red line through it.
There's one last treat as the clip comes to a close — images of the amazing behind-the-scenes transformation that made it all possible.