There’s not a lot of metaphor, subtext, or minced words to “The Man,” one of the more cutting tracks off Taylor Swift’s 2019 album Lover. Swift lays the song’s thesis out perfectly bluntly: If she was a man, none of the myriad bullshit she’s had to deal with over the course of her career—including her recent conflicts with producer Scooter Braun, plus a whole industry’s worth of analysis of whether she’s too nice, too mean, or too whatever—would have ever been even a blip on her personal radar. It’s a righteously straightforward skewering of the double-standards that infest pretty much every industry, but especially music, and especially when someone as self-directed as Swift gets involved.
Now—having possibly picked up a taste for full-body prosthetics during her exposure to cinematic toxoplasmosis via Cats—Swift has taken that message to its logical extreme, releasing a new video for “The Man” today that sees her take on the persona of a cigar chomping alpha male who also, going off the results of some classy subway pissing he pulls off halfway through the video, needs to see his urologist very, very soon.
Besides copious manspreading and—in the best visual gag of the video—depicting manhood as being like running down an endless corridor of anonymous arms reaching out to give you a fist bump or a high five, Swift also gets in a few more pointed jokes; the aforementioned subway micturation also includes a missing poster for the various albums Braun recently acquired control over, politely asking that they be returned to Taylor Swift. (Also: When The Man finally speaks for himself, it’s in the voice of masculine obelisk Dwayne Johnson, which seems pretty apt.) All in all, it’s a simple joke, well-told—especially when the credits for the video make it clear how extreme Swift’s transformation to adopt her bearded alter-ego actually were.