Another Taylor Swift music video has arrived and eagle-eyed viewers arise. She recently had her directorial debut through her own music video, The Man, which ironically enough stars herself as the man. With proper prosthetics and make up, she became the quintessential man that everyone has encountered. Her latest single take on the double standards between men and women. Similar to her past music videos, this one has easter eggs and full of hidden meanings.
Breaking down the easter eggs in Taylor Swift’s The Man music video:
By the window.
Every music video of Swift’s Lover era has started with her near a window. Of course, The Man is no exception but this time, we have Tyler Swift. He, then, has a montage of walking along office corridors and cubicles. The setting looks similar to her Bad Blood music video.
Instead of a fight scene between women, we see a scene inspired from the Wolf of Wall Street which, of course, features Leonardo DiCaprio‘s portrayal of the quintessential Alpha Male. Tyler takes it a step further, only fist bumping and acknowledging the men in the room.
Fake liquor ad.
Next, we see him manspreading in a subway train. Although, this could have several meanings, we could discuss two of its possible definitions. Behind him, we see fake advertisements that shows the overtly violent and sexual ways that the media portrays men. The fake liquor ad says, “Capitalize on the feeling.” This might symbolize media capitalizing on Swift’s public relationships.
Next to the liquor poster, we see the word “greedy” which might express the exact statement that the media uses when she takes on a business decision. This also refers to her resolve to pull out all of her songs on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming apps. This could also point out to adopting a fan-verified ticket sales system for her Reputation stadium tour.
The other way we could read this scene may involve Scott Borchetta. The name of the fake liquor, BO$$ SCOTCH, seems to be a play of words referring to her old label boss. Just in case you didn’t know, she had publicly talked about her disappointment and anger when he sold her music to talent manager Scooter Braun. This may be her way of calling him “greedy” for capitalizing her body of work which records her deepest vulnerabilities.
Fake movie poster.
Another poster on the train reads “MAN VS DISASTER” which may refer to the action film trope where it only takes one man to save the world. In contrast, this could also point out to people referring to Swift as “playing the victim.” Of course, this could be seen on the headlines of many media giants.
When Tyler opens a newspaper, the headline asks: WHAT MAN WON THE YEAR IN CELEBRITY DATING? This, again, refers to Swift’s dating history and the double standard that criticizes women but celebrates men for dating around. Taylor has become a poster child for this double standard and has always spoken up against this trope.
Peeing on the platform.
Tyler gets off the 13th Street Station and takes a leak, a reference to Swift’s favorite and lucky number. The wall he stops at has graffiti all over it where it reads her past albums like Reputation, RED and 1989. She has hidden easter eggs through graffiti before in her Reputation era music videos.
A sign says, “MISSING: If found, return to Taylor Swift” and another one symbolizes no scooters. The poster definitely refers to her ongoing battle with Braun and Borchetta regarding her music’s masters. Tyler peeing on the wall could also represent the two men and some men in the music industry have long disrespected Swift throughout her career.
We, then, see a poster for Mister Americana directed by Larry Wilson starring Tyler Swift, an official entry to ManDance. This, of course, signifies the documentary Miss Americana directed by Lana Wilson starring Taylor Swift, an official entry to Sundance Film Festival.
Speaking to Glamour, director Lana Wilson actually shared that she and her female crew often felt like they were not being taken seriously while shooting for the said documentary because of their gender. This spin to her own documentary might be a way of her showing that film and music industries experience heavy critics for lack of opportunities and recognition for women.
Living the bachelor life.
Tyler, again, lives the life of DiCaprio’s role in Wolf of Wall Street. He lives a lavish life on a yacht with tons of women with model-like physiques. The line even says, “I’d be just like Leo in Saint-Tropez,” a nod to the actor dating a number of young women, especially young models.
A hall of fame.
Swift, of course, points another double standard as Tyler leaves a one night stand. Instead of the “Walk of Shame” that women struts through. He walks into a “Hall of Fame” filled with nineteen hands that high five him. This specifically shows that men gets a “Legend Status” where women would be criticized and even called a “Whore” or a “Man-Eater.”
Swift, for some reason, gives a nod to the number nineteen (19). This may be her way of pointing out the 19th Amendment where the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote, a right known as women’s suffrage. She released The Man on February 27th, the anniversary of when the Supreme Court dismissed the challenge of the Amendment and unanimously declared the right of citizens to vote whatever their sex may be.
World’s Greatest Dad.
Tyler gets named as the ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ for patting his daughter on the head, for doing the bare minimum. This scene addresses the double standard where moms rarely get recognition while their male counterparts get praised for their little amount of effort. If we look closely, Tyler is manspreading again while his daughter isn’t. This could show that people already teach young girls to cross their legs in order to take up less space.
Partying with other men.
We, then, see Tyler partying around with other men. They also take body shots off of a woman. This, of course, signifies the reduction of women to objects and only valued for their bodies.
Aside from that, we also see Tyler’s face on the dollar bills. This may be an obvious comment on men owning more money than women due to the obvious lack of opportunities and gender pay gaps. They, then, show off their matching gold rings. This, then, shows the boys club culture that many movies and television shows display.
Tyler plays a match of tennis. Aside from spotting a Taylor Swift merchandise near the bench, this shows him getting mad at an umpire and destroying his racket. This may be an obvious comment to Serena Williams fined for $17-thousand for an “outburst.”
She argued with the umpire and slammed her racket on the ground during the match. Her actions show that she was being unfairly penalize due to the umpire’s false calls. This also shows Swift’s statement in an interview where she says, “A man is allowed to react. A woman can only overreact.”
In the music video, Tyler gets a similar pass. He goes on a temper tantrum but no one does anything, not even the ball girl Loren Gray and umpire which actually turns out to be Swift’s actual father Scott Swift.
58 Years Later.
Fast forward to 58 years later (5+8 = 13), he gets married to a much younger woman. Again, the woman will surely be painted as the bad guy and labeled as a “gold digger.” If an older woman gets married to a young man, they’ll be criticized for “cradle robbing.”
This could also be a parallel to another non-traditional marriage in Swift’s You Need To Calm Down music video. Comparing the same-sex marriage scene on the said music video and the unorthodox wedding with a huge age gap, the latter always seems more acceptable.
Reversing the roles.
At the end of the video, we see the female director (Swift). She, then, asks The Man to be “sexier” and “more like-able.” Of course, this remains a hit to the industries who lack discriminate women for not being “sexy enough” or “like-able enough.” Aside from that, director Swift also praises ballgirl Loren Gray for doing the bare minimum, similar to men being praised for the exact same thing.
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Angela Grace P. Baltan is a Communication graduate from Colegio de San Juan de Letran. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, and mental health among others.