Taylor Swift has dropped her new music video for “The Man,” off her Lover album, and she doesn’t pull her punches. The video is as much a critique of how society treats women through depictions of various gender hypocrisies as it is about specific moments from Swift’s own life. “The Man” could be seen as an extension of the singer’s Miss Americana documentary, which is often referenced in the video and shows Swift — who put on extensive prosthetics to play the song’s titular Man, in addition to directing the video — grappling with how “a nice girl doesn’t force their opinions on people, a nice girl smiles and waves and says ‘thank you,’ a nice girl doesn’t make people feel uncomfortable with her views.”
Like the rest of the singer’s work, details for which are meticulously thought out, this latest release comes jam packed with hidden references and meanings. Here’s a guide to them.
The Wolf of Wall Street
The video opens with a scene that would be right at home in Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street. Swift’s male persona walks through an office, motions to his subordinates to make that paper, and extends his arms out like Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Jordan Belfort in the film, all while he’s applauded by everyone in the office.
The song itself features lyrics like, “And we would toast to me, oh, let the players play/ I’d be just like Leo, in Saint-Tropez,” as a reference to DiCaprio’s routine vacationing with much younger women — something Swift also sends up later in the video, with her character lounging on a yacht surrounded by swimsuit-clad ladies.
One of Swift’s biggest points of contention is her masters, which were purchased by producer Scooter Braun when he acquired Big Machine Label Group. She previously said she felt “sad and grossed out” by the news and called the situation “the worst case scenario.” She plans to re-record all of her earlier music to reclaim some ownership of her past work, but she’s been vocal about how Big Machine apparently tried to block her from using those songs for an American Music Awards performance and in her Netflix documentary Miss Americana.
In “The Man” video, Swift appears to call out Scott Borchetta, the CEO of Big Machine. Many fans on Twitter noted how the “BO$$ Scotch” subway ad sounds close enough to “Boss Scott.” Plus, the ad bears the “capitalize on the feeling,” like how Swift and her fans feel Braun and Borchetta were capitalizing on Swift’s work. The word “greedy” is also spray painted next to the image.
In a 2019 Rolling Stone interview, Swift discussed Braun and Borchetta and referenced some scotch. “These are two very rich, very powerful men, using $300 million of other people’s money to purchase, like, the most feminine body of work,” she said. “And then they’re standing in a wood-panel bar doing a tacky photo shoot, raising a glass of scotch to themselves. Because they pulled one over on me and got this done so sneakily that I didn’t even see it coming. And I couldn’t say anything about it.”
In the same music video scene, which features Swift’s male persona smoking a cigar and man-spreading on a subway train, one of the passengers is wearing a “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince” hoodie, referencing another song (and perhaps another forthcoming single?) from Lover.
Throughout Swift’s career, tabloids have fixated on the singer’s romantic history and speculated over the subjects of her songs. One red carpet clip of Swift that is often shared shows the singer at the 2015 Grammy Awards being interviewed by Entertainment Tonight correspondent Nancy O’Dell. O’Dell says Swift, in her dress, could walk home with many men. She responds, “I’m not gonna walk home with any men tonight.”
The newspaper Swift is reading in the music video features multiple headlines, including one that calls out that double standard and asks, “What Man Won the Year in Celebrity Dating?”