When Taylor Swift deleted all of her social media posts and became a faceless (wo)man on Friday, you knew something was up. Three days later, speculation is only growing after the singer posted a nearly inscrutable video to Instagram and Twitter. Is new music on the way? What kind of music will it be? Or, seriously, is this just a cry for help? The Ringer staff launched into full conspiracy mode and put forth their most viable theories.
Justin Charity: Taylor Swift tweeting tentacle porn and we just acting like it’s normal.
Lindsay Zoladz: Look, it’s a snake. Do not tell me that someone as image-conscious as Taylor Swift didn’t Rorschach-test this on 50 of her closest besties to confirm that it does indeed look like a snake, which of course indicates that her new song will have something to do with the infamous Taylor-Kimye feud.
I truly hope Taylor proves me wrong, though. This is already a precarious time for someone like Taylor Swift to be releasing new music—what with the foundation of American democracy crumbling and all—and it would be an especially petty time for her to microwave some year-old beef and pick a fight with another celebrity. Nobody needs “Bad Blood II” right now—the only person I’m interested in hearing a T-Swift dis track about is Donald Trump.
Amanda Dobbins: My first thought, just like everybody else, was that it’s a snake. Fine; I don’t know how she’s gonna get through this press cycle without addressing the Kim/Kanye fiasco, and if she can have a sense of humor about it, all the better. Here’s my issue: Why are you releasing this in the literal middle of the internet’s Eclipse Insanity? I assume that this tease is related to the upcoming VMAs, and that Taylor is contractually obligated to promote her Single Release–Katy Perry Peace Summit (it’s happening, they both need the ratings) throughout the week. But there is no reason that can’t wait until Tuesday, when the press cycle is free and clear of eye-burning memes and Game of Thrones complaints. This is my problem with late-period Taylor—not the whining, which has always been part of her brand, but how incompetent the dissemination of said whining is. Get your messaging together. It’s 2017.
Andrew Gruttadaro: In ancient Greece—likely around 585 B.C.—a solar eclipse occurred during a battle between the Medes and the Lydians, inspiring the factions to put down their weapons and declare peace. In the United States of America—in the year 2017 A.D.—musician Taylor Swift saw that a solar eclipse was coming and picked up her weapons and aimed them at the famed tribe of the Kardashians. People interpret omens differently. [Shrugs.]
Kate Knibbs: Remember when people kept leaving snake emoji on Taylor Swift's (now-deleted) Instagram posts? I barely do, because last summer feels like it happened 5,000 years ago and on a different planet, so to refresh: Taylor Swift bashed Kanye West's lyrics about her in "Famous." Kim Kardashian West then posted a video on Snapchat showing Kanye on the phone with Taylor, who seemed to approve of the song. And thus Taylor was branded a snake, a disingenuous conniver.
And now, after a low-profile 2017, Swift has deleted all her social media posts and uploaded a single, undulating reptile tail. It probably means that she's going to release new music, but I also hope it means that she's going to release new music and she's decided to set aside her gee-golly wallflower ingenue persona for good and embrace a public image that more accurately reflects her personality. Swift's a Slytherin. She muscled her way into songwriting fame by masterminding insanely catchy songs that simultaneously trashed the reputations of men who had wronged her. She got caught either flat-out lying or at least exaggerating for sympathy. Look what she did to Tom Hiddleston.
Secretly Bad Taylor was no fun. It's time for Openly Bad Taylor. More feuds, more drama, absolutely no more hangouts with Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. Instead of denying her snake side, I hope this weird video of a snake’s butt means that Taylor Swift has decided to lean into her true trickster nature.
Jordan Coley: Those close to me have probably heard me saying this privately for months, but after Taylor Swift’s cryptic Instagram post Monday morning, I figured it was time I brought this theory forward. Prior to Monday morning’s post, Swift had not really posted anything on her Instagram in many months. She was noticeably absent during the election and was nowhere to be found at the Grammys this past February. This is, of course, because Taylor Swift is trapped in the Upside Down. Yes, the dark, lifeless parallel reality that Netflix’s Stranger Things famously brought to our attention. But didn’t she make that video for Russell Westbrook? Nope, we all know the NBA is rigged; that video was recorded before the season even started. But didn’t she promote Lorde and Haim’s new releases on Instagram? Pfft—automated PR content from her label. Listen, Taylor’s trapped down there, and whatever’s down there with her doesn’t look too friendly. Monday morning’s post was a cry for help. Now, we can either sit around and do nothing, or get off our butts and go buy some Christmas lights.