In Reading, Pennsylvania, on December 13th, 1989, a star was born: Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift was first known for her country music since the age of sixteen, but she gradually changed to pop. On August 27, 2017, Taylor released “Look what you made me do” and fans went crazy for it. “Look what you made me do” by Taylor Swift uses rhetorical appeals, design, and rhetorical devices to not only entertain her loving fans, but to also send a message to her enemies. The music video shows Taylor Swift singing in various scenes with different outfits on.
At the beginning of the video, Taylor rises from the dead as a zombie from a grave that says “Here lies Taylor Swift’s reputation.
She continues to dig the grave she came out of and then magically appears in a diamond filled bathtub. Later, she is seen on a throne with snakes around her, in a car crash dressed similar to another celebrity and robbing a bank.
Towards the end of the video, she is seen standing on a crumbling pile of “old’ Taylors and claims that the old Taylor cannot come to the phone right now because she is dead. In the end of the video, Taylor is seen talking to multiple versions of her old self from past music videos. The first rhetorical technique that Taylor swift uses in her music video is design. The design of the video really captures the audience’s attention as well as express the feelings that Taylor swift was experiencing.
At the beginning of the music video, when Taylor swift rose from the dead as a zombie, it was extremely dark. That dark grave yard gave an eerie, dark effect to the video and zombie Taylor signifies that the old Taylor swift is dead and buried.
The next scene shows Swift laying down in a diamond filled bathtub with one dollar by her head. This could have many meanings behind it. One theory could be that Taylor swift is addressing the rumors the media created about how she sits at home and cries in a bathtub filled with diamonds. Another theory could be that she is addressing the court case she won where she sued David Mueller for sexual assault and won one dollar. Next, she is seen sitting on a gold throne with a bright red dress on while a snake serves her a cup of tea. The snakes could have been used to induce fear indicating not to mess with her or, once again, she could have been addressing Kim Kardashian for calling her a snake on twitter. The gold throne that she is sitting on could represent wealth, while the bold red dress signifies danger and strength. Throughout the entire music video, especially towards the end, she continues to wear dark, bold colors which represents her rising anger.
These examples work by setting a dark tone, which creates the feeling of anger and resentment towards her enemies. The strong colors and the dark design successfully creates a strong pathos. The second technique that Taylor uses is pathos. She uses pathos to evoke many strong emotions, some being anger, resentment and even revenge. Some examples are hidden in both the lyrics and in the background of the video. For example, “I’ve got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined” and “But not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma” creates strong emotions of revenge and in turn, lets the audience know that she feels very angry and even betrayed. The entire music video has a dark background, which shows the audience that swift is not only mad, but serious. The anger in both the lyrics and the music video makes the audience wonder “Who got on Taylor’s bad side?” Although Pathos succeeded in stirring up a lot of emotions in the audience, rhetorical devices also played a key role in that factor. Rhetorical devices are everywhere you look, especially is Taylor swift’s lyrics.
The three that swift used the most are the constant usage of Apostrophe, Hyperbole, and Metaphors. The Apostrophe in the music video would be the constant usage of the word you. “I don’t like your little games, Don’t like your tilted stage, The role you made me play, Of the fool, no, I don’t like you” Apostrophe is used to talk to a third party and from the beginning of the video, it is clear that Swift is addressing someone in this song. Her usage of Apostrophe creates a personal tone as she indirectly addresses an individual. An example of Metaphors such as “Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time” compares swift’s comeback in the music industry to coming back from the dead. The famous lyrics “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now, Why? Oh, ’cause she’s dead!’ is an example of hyperbole.
Hyperbole is just another persuasive technique that Tylor Swift uses to present her case to her audience. While these rhetorical devices did a great job of connecting with the audience, there is still some work to be done. Despite the fact that “Look what you made me do” gained up to 900 million views and seven million likes, some improvements can still be made. Some ways to better the music video would be to slow it down just a little, remove certain symbols from the background and put more effort in the lyrics. If Taylor had slowed down the video just a little, the audience might have a better understanding of what is happening in the background as well as catch some hidden messages that Swift laid out. Speaking of background, certain things are completely unnecessary such as Taylor taking an apart an airplane with a chainsaw.
That scene just causes confusion to her audience and whatever message she is trying to convey with that will often get lost. One last improvement that can be made would be the lyrics. “Oh, look what you made me do” is often repeated over and over. Her lyrics could have had some more thought, maybe then her audience will have a better understanding of what I she angry about. Taylor swift did an amazing job of connecting with her audience through many rhetorical techniques, but these suggestions are just another way to make the video better. Taylor swift, a lyrical genius, found a way to connect to her audience by capturing their attention, connecting to their emotions and even entertaining them with specific words using many rhetorical elements. All while confronting her enemies and rumors about her.
The amazing dark design easily demonstrates her anger and resentment in the music video. The lyrics and the dark design of the music video makes the audience understand Taylor swift’s emotions. The rhetorical devices persuade the audience into thinking along and agreeing with Taylor swift’s side of the story. This matter because each of these rhetorical elements come together to make a successful, entertaining and amazing music video that often stirs up a lot of emotion and thought. “Look what you made me do” really gives an insight as to why the old Taylor is dead.