Even as The Man, Taylor Swift is up to her old tricks. Or should I say, Tyler Swift. The music video for the feminist single is perhaps even more aggressive about its not-so-hidden references and clues, because that's what a man would do, right? Aside from Swift's now-infamous habit of hiding names of potential future songs in her videos ("Greedy" and "Karma" are two of them this time around), Thursday's video for "The Man" also calls out specific men that Swift feels epitomise the ethos of the lyrics, which are all about double standards for powerful men and women, and the ways men can abuse their power while women must shrink.
Taylor Swift, covered in prosthetics to the point of being unrecognisable until the very end, embodies a single man in the music video who exhibits a variety of privileged behaviour that definitely looks familiar. It doesn't take long to realise the artist is calling out specific men in each chapter of the video. While almost none of these men are referenced by name, those following Swift's career know exactly who she is singing about thanks to some not-so-subtle clues, starting with the "no scooters" sign.
Scooter Braun and Taylor Swift have been in a public battle ever since his acquisition of Big Machine Records, which owns all of Swift's masters. If the bearded, suit-and-tie, man-in-skyscraper motif wasn't clear enough for you, there's literally a shot in which the man pees on a wall grafitti-ed with the names of Swift's past albums that Braun now owns.
"MISSING. If found return to Taylor Swift," a sign reads.
Per the theory the internet cooked up after Swift released the first image from the music video, Swift definitely also had Kanye West in mind. The hallway and bedroom scenes have a similar aesthetic to he and Kim Kardashian West's house, and the idea of someone being a symbol of sexual promiscuity while also being regarded as a successful family man would seem to fit West's bill.
This one is literally referenced in the lyrics, so of course it can be none other than Leonardo DiCaprio on that yacht.
This one seems a little random at first, but a Twitter user pointed out its significance. Tennis player John McEnroe is infamous for an outburst he had at Wimbledon in 1981 in which he disputed an umpire's call. He went on to win the game, and the incident is remembered with a chuckle. Meanwhile, Serena Williams had a similar dispute at the US Open in 2018 and was dragged through the headlines.
Men Who Marry Women 30 Years Younger Than Them
This one has too many examples to name.
Watch the full "The Man" music video below.
Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal dated for only a few months in 2010, but it's hard to deny the similarities between Swift's man get-up and Gyllenhaal's beard and flop of brunette hair. As far as we know, Gyllenhaal's only crimes have involved almost running the red 'cause he was looking over at Swift, but fans are convinced regardless.