For the third listen of “The Man” by Taylor Swift, I will look at and discuss three forms of texts and media performances that will help me to understand the meaning of this song, deeper than just the lyrics. The delivery, setting, artist’s tone, and much more all contribute to how this song is understood by the audience. The media pieces I will be looking at are a live performance, the official music video, and the “Tiny Desk Performance” that many artists perform at and is then uploaded on Youtube. 


Live Performance:


This performance seems pretty straightforward at first glance, however there are some hidden messages from Swift in her singing and tone that make quite the point. The song as a whole directly points a finger at the gender inequalities in society. In Swift’s performance, it is just her sitting with a guitar and a spotlight on her. I think this was intentionally done to show the significance of being an independent woman who doesn’t need anything or anyone to bolster her song. It is important to note that the audience was singing word for word which happens often with concerts however this stuck out to me because it shows how much of an impact this song has had on people, which is the whole point of Swift creating this song. Then, about halfway through the performance she sings the lyrics, “so it’s okay that I’m mad” and pauses singing. Again, I believe this was intentionally done because she wanted the audience to stop and think about the context of the lyrics. They also started cheering during this pause and I think this reflects the approval of her empowerment towards women. In addition, Swift tends to be a very expressive artist while she sings. But in particular I noticed her expressions in this performance since it was so simplistically performed. Her facial expressions and diction in her words showed her frustration and anger towards the gender inequalities. 


Official Music Video:


The next media piece I would like to discuss is the official music video. The music video begins in a hustle and bustle city with a seemingly high level business man, like a CEO or manager of some sort. It shows people approaching him and asking for advice, basically looking up to him. One small part in the beginning that really stuck out to me was when he crumpled a piece of paper and threw it and a group of women reached to catch it; this was purposely planned to show the differences that men and women have in the workplace. Then, the man is on the subway and is crowding the women next to him with his legs spread apart, with not consideration for anyone else. The next important part of the video is when the man and his daughter are in a park. He pats her on the head and picks her up. The women in the park swoon as if this was some sort of admirable thing to do for his child when in actuality he was just doing dad duties. Then there is a sign that reads “Worlds Best Dad.” This part of the video shows that men get praised for being an average dad but when a mother does anything with their children, they often are criticized. My favorite part of the video is at the end when they show pictures of Taylor being made into the man from the video! The whole time she was the actress playing the male role. Once again, this shows that she was able to do all the things in the video as a man but only because she was dressed as one. If she had been dressed as a woman, she would not have had the same type of video.


“Tiny Desk Performance:”

The last text I will be covering is the “Tiny Desk Performance” on Youtube which is presented by the NPR company. They do this type of concert with a lot of different artists which allows them to showcase new albums and singles. It has a very different feel because it quite literally is in a small room with a tiny desk and just their instruments and vocals. The first thing I noticed in this performance was Taylor’s attire. She is wearing a Blazer and slacks, like a suit. I liked this because it shows a professionalism that shows strength. Swift is the queen of leaving easter eggs in songs and I don’t doubt that this was intentional to show that even though she is a woman, she can also wear suits! Before the song even begins, she states that she has wanted to write “The Man” for a long time because it has occurred to her that there is a double standard issue in our society with men and women. She said she thinks about this many times a day and felt compelled to write a song that encompassed that double standard. I think it is important to look at how she describes these songs before she sings them because it gives context on how she views these issues. Similar to the live performance before, her words were concise and crisp which shows her resentment and bitterness towards these issues. 


All three texts/media helped me to fully grasp the understanding of not only the song, but the lyrics, the artist’s meaning, her interpretation of these issues, and the delivery.