"Blank Space" is one of the best songs on Taylor Swift's blockbuster album 1989, so obviously it deserves a blockbuster video. And it got one straight out of Downton Abbey or Cruel Intentions or whatever your favorite rich people fantasia is. But just as 1989 is an album largely about breaking down conceptions of Taylor Swift as boy-obsessed girl who refuses to grow up—and "Blank Space" is the centerpiece in that regard—the video for "Blank Space" is about poking holes in the fairy tale and, even more specifically, satirizing Taylor's image as a perfect, story book princess who mutates into an insane, revenge-obsessed ex. Even though the current version is, according to director Joel Kahn, technically a leak due to a Yahoo mistake and is now no longer available online, it's visually rich and stunning and full of instantly iconic images of Taylor Swift. Specifically, here is Taylor Swift standing on a horse:
And here is Taylor Swift channeling the Bible, Snow White, and the covers of the Twilight novels:
Anyway, the video works mostly because it brings to life the very tight and effective songwriting in "Blank Space," which I hadn't even thought of as a particularly narrative song. But here it is, the whole story, told with a self-aware wink, of relationships building their own little fantasies and then of those fantasies falling apart. You start out inviting your man into your horse-filled boudoir, and then, next thing you know, you're weeping next to your fireplace while your pet deer pretends like it doesn't notice:
And then the cycle continues and eventually it dawns on you, in a sort of postmodern structural twist, that the story always returns to this room with the deer, and the deer's significance is perhaps ill-explained but it contains a deep, convoluted symbolism. Here you are in this Nabokovian puzzle of a house, filled with large, hooved animals, the men but bit players cycling through only to leave with their shirts in tatters. Love, Taylor Swift seems to say, is not just a game in the small, point-by-point sense, but rather as a sort of cosmic cycle—a grand, twisted game of the gods who always, eventually, lead you back to this guy, with the car, to this room, with the deer.
Taylor invites us into this hall of mirrors—"You look like my next mistake / Love's a game. Wanna play?"—and we can't help but come along. Anyway, the leaked video has been scrubbed from the internet, which further enhances the sense that this is all a dream, that we are trapped in a funhouse where brands reverberate through our consciousness—American Express, Yahoo, a disembodied iPad—and Taylor Swift is always singing, her castle always regenerating its twisted fantasies, in a great circular, winding crush. Check out the stills above, and enter Taylor's postmodern world.
Update: The video is officially out. Watch it below: