Taylor Swift‘s “Mean,” the latest single from her multiplatinum third album Speak Now, was originally written in response to a music critic who wrote not-nice things about her. But in the just-premiered video for the song, Swift spins the stripped-down country tune into an outsider anthem starring herself, her honky-tonk combo, a gay teen, and at least one old-timey bad guy tying her to a railroad track. Check it out after the jump.

Sonically, “Mean” is one of the best tracks on Speak Now, eschewing any sort of modern pop spit-shining in favor of a stripped-down, almost bluegrass sound (even on country radio, it’s rare to hear a song that centers specifically around a banjo). The hook is deceptively sticky, and without a giant chorus to shout through, Swift’s voice floats gently in and out of the delicate melody.

While she nobly takes an anti-bullying stance in the clip, the message does get a little mixed. Is she really equating a professional critic questioning her ability to sing at an awards show to getting bullied because you’re different? Swift is only 21 years old, but it seems as though her skin should be a little bit thicker now that she has sold millions of albums, toured the world, and become one of the most recognizable faces in pop culture. She’s clearly the winner in this scenario, and playing the victim does tend to devalue actual victimhood.

Am I way off base on this? Does that aspect of the video bother you, or does it work for you? Sound off in the comments below.


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