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Taylor Swift’s ‘Mean’ Video Makes Us Temporarily Pro-Bully

In the world of country music, Taylor Swift's new video for "Mean" might be seen as subversive or even transgressive: It admonishes anti-gay bullies, and its aspirational chorus, "Someday / I'll be / livin' in a big ol' city," is practically a rebuke to small-town values. In the wider world, though, Swift is late to the trend of "It Gets Better" music videos released by female singers, and hers is simultaneously the most cliched (the bullied gay kid wants to be a fashion designer, natch), didactic (the bullied poor girl puts all her pennies in a piggy bank marked "college"), self-impressed (it comes complete with a child applauding Swift's message at the end), and studiously unrevealing: Swift's own bullying scenario involves her being loosely tied to train tracks by a mad man while suffering in impeccable hair and makeup. (The video also showcases Swift playing banjo with a dirt-smudged bluegrass band, but again, Swift herself is blemish-free.) The result is something that's both commendable and condescending, but the girl can't help it: She was born this way.