Part of a pop star’s job is to ride cultural currents, but in the video for “ … Ready for It?” Taylor Swift is grasping at straws. Directed by Swift’s frequent collaborator Joseph Kahn, the video is a hodgepodge of cyberpunk iconography—Blade Runner, the American remake of Ghost in the Shell, possibly a little Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets for Lord knows what reason—that fails to make sense on its own terms, let alone as an accompaniment to the song it’s purportedly for. (Emulating a string of high-priced failures seems like a bit of a strange move.) If you were in an extremely generous mood, you might say that the video, in which a cybernetic Swift creates and confronts her own android doppelganger takes its cues from the song’s skittering robotic beat and the line “I can be your ghost and you can be my phantom,” but it mostly seems to represent another “Bad Blood”–esque attempt for Swift to pass herself off as a sleek badass and falling on her (apparently synthetically fleshy) face.
There are a few images worth savoring, especially those when cyber-Taylor orders up a version of herself circa the “White Horse” era, extending the idea from the “Look What You Made Me Do” video that all of her past selves, from tween country prodigy to vengeful pop goddess, have been constructed personae. (Can the real Taylor come to the phone?) But there’s less going on in “ … Ready for It?” than there is in the Kahn-directed opening credits for the new season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Sorry, Taylor, it’s a little more nuanced than that.