In a pre-recorded acceptance speech broadcasted at the ceremony, Swift called the honor "amazing." This is the first time she has directed her own music video during her storied career. "I'm just so grateful for this. I want to take an opportunity to say thank you to the team who believed in me as a first-time director and made this video with me."
"I was told that this was an industry-voted award," she continued. "So I want to say thank you to everyone in the industry who voted for this video. But I also really want to thank the fans because you are the only reason why the industry cares about anything that I do." She thanked Swifties for their "generosity" and shared her hope to be able to see them in person soon.
In the cinematic visual, Swift dons a wig and facial hair to play a Wolf of Wall Street-like character. He's a big-deal, rich, womanizing CEO who fits every toxic male stereotype, from man-spreading on the subway to peeing on walls — because he can. After the final scene, the actual Swift, who's sitting in a director's chair, asks the man to be more "sexy" and "likeable," which is something often asked of woman celebrities (very likely including Swift herself). This song, off of 2019's Lover, is an anthem calling out the unfair double-standard that women face when they try to achieve the same levels of success and power as men.
“Having dealt with a few of them, narcissists basically subscribe to a belief system that they should be able to do and say whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they want to,” Swift told The Guardian in 2019. “And if we — as anyone else in the world, but specifically women — react to that, well, we’re not allowed to. We’re not allowed to have a reaction to their actions.”
While the folklore singer is the first pop artist to win the Best Director award for helming her own music video without a collaborator, she is not the first woman to win in the category. Previous winners include Valerie Faris and co-director Jonathan Dayton for the Smashing Pumpkins' 1996 video for "Tonight Tonight," as well as the Red Hot Chili Peppers' 2000 video for "Californication." Erykah Badu and co-director Chris Robinson both won for 2008's "Honey" and most recently, Melina Matsoukas won for directing Beyoncé's "Formation" in 2016.