After laying low for the past few months and expunging all of her social media in the last week, Taylor Swift is alive and back, ready as ever to release her venom. Last Thursday, August 24, Swift released her latest single, “Look What You Made Me Do.” Her new persona, characterized by snakes overtaking her social media and merchandise, has been eagerly celebrated by her fans. Swift herself made the self-reinvention explicit in the last line of her single: “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why?

Oh, ‘cause she’s dead.”

Always seeking revenge

While Swift and fans alike may be celebrating the new Taylor, it must be asked -- has Taylor really changed? Her new Reputation hinges on seeking revenge; we can easily look back to find numerous songs willing for the same. In 2006, she released “Picture to Burn,” in which she fired at an ex, telling him “[she was] just sitting [there] planning [her] revenge.” In 2010, she released “Better than Revenge,” in which she told the girl who stole her man to “keep in mind there is nothing [she does] better than revenge.” In 2014, she released “Bad Blood,” in which she brought yet another celebrity feud to the front lines to out the wrong that had been done to her.

It’s clear that Swift has sought revenge since the start of her career, so maybe she hasn’t made such a drastic change after all. However, while in the past she has focused more on her romantic relationships, she is now making karma and revenge a salient characteristic of her persona.

Taylor’s aggression and victim mentality

Are we to celebrate the new Taylor, the actress who wants to “[star] in your bad dreams?” Rather than be a gracious role model to the millions of young girls who adore her, Swift has taken a turn into aggression and Victim Mentality.

In her single, Taylor sings, “the world moves on, another day, another drama drama. But not for me, not for me -- all I think about is karma.” Her grudges have overwhelmed her personality, taking over her entire image. On top of that, her striking new image has been reinforced by the emblem of the snake, symbolic of evil, venom, and revenge.

Ultimately, Swift has succumbed to victim mentality. She repeatedly sings, “look what you made me do,” as if her grudges and any cruel actions she may take in the name of revenge are not done of her own agency, but rather are forced upon her by someone else.

While her self-isolation in the single may at first seem empowering (“I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me”), she is really just distancing herself and blaming others rather than taking agency for her own mistakes. Rather than being a bigger person and forgiving herself or others’ actions, she has chosen to claim herself as the victim and her opponent as the evil one. By doing so, she is perpetuating victim mentality and normalizing the idea that assuming a lack of agency in the name of revenge is acceptable.

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