Just as we reached the final, dregs-and-leftovers phase of summer, the first pure, truly emblematic, undeniable piece of pop art of the Trump era landed right in our laps. Two nights before the fight, Taylor Swift unloaded her new single “Look What You Made Me Do,” and although Trump still seems wedded to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” as his signature rally-closer, he really should consider an update. Swift’s tour de force of deflective petulance is amazing: It’s essentially a catalogue of every public feud she’s had that, without naming them, manages to extend, mock, and, most important, commodify them. (Side note: Do you know anyone in real life who has “feuds” who isn’t utterly insufferable?) “Look What You Made Me Do” — it’s right there in the title — is an anthem that turns the abrogation of personal responsibility into a posturing statement of empowerment. With its tense “The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? … ’Cause she’s dead!” it embraces the possibility of calling “Do over!” as a form of self-realization, and imagines a world in which a clean slate means never having to say you’re sorry because every conceivable way you lash out must be someone else’s fault. Is Taylor Swift to blame for anything? How can any of us know? There was violence on many sides, many sides.

I have no idea what Swift’s politics are (she seems to have been widely excoriated for keeping her vote private, which is obviously her right), but I’ve heard enough of her songs over the years so that of course I know what her politics are: I win, but for the record I’m the victim of haters and losers. As we’ve learned, you can go a long way with that, and she has. If nothing else, “Look What You Made Me Do” finds a new way to commercialize self-exoneration. It’s perfect for a world in which our chief executive’s chief subject of fascination is his own size, his reach, and the way in which he is received. If he ever puts out a record, it will surely be called, like hers, “Reputation.” (And in an alternate, kinder universe, Trump would be in his gold tower right now tweeting about Swift and Katy Perry the way he used to tweet about Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart.)

Swift is a perfect, golden avatar of our moment, a child of the new century who understands celebrity as a form of constant curation of one’s brand the way that Madonna, a child of the old century, understood it as an act of persona creation. Whether or not she is a Trump supporter, she is an embodiment of Trump culture. And with this single, which broke a YouTube record in its first 24 hours, she has slouched in at the last minute to grab the title of Song of the Summer, or at least Song of the Summer We Deserve. (I can’t help but imagine an electoral scenario in which “Despacito” gets more votes but still loses.)

But as we watch Swift’s video — and yes, I get it, it’s not a crime against art, just a clever, irritating, hyper-self-aware pop earworm calculated to prove that she can not only take a joke but she will own and copyright said joke — we should probably pause to remember that none of this fame-enthralled solipsism emerged from a vacuum. It’s the big bang from which Trump the self-selling celeb was spawned. And his presidency didn’t invent this grim and cynical strain of pop culture; it’s just given it a good home. None of this exists without our complicity. We may smirk at it, but it smirks right back, lets us know we’re in no position to judge, and leaves us with this sour revelation: This is also our fault. Look what we made us do.

Taylor Swift’s ‘LWYMMD’ Is a Pure Piece of Trump-Era Pop Art

http://www.vulture.com/2017/08/taylor-swift-look-what-you-made-me-do-pure-trump-era-pop-art.html