I love when young people have a serious discussion about race in pop culture. Although, sometimes the premises on which it is sparked is illegitimate; For example, Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” music video.
We’re beating a dead dog when it’s a constant blame game or more so a hate parade against one person about an universal issue. Do I believe that Taylor Swift is racially insensitive? No I don’t, I actually believe she can be hyperactive when it comes to race. Unfortunately, sometimes her ambitions are received negatively.
One of the most vocal critics about the “Wildest Dreams” music video was NPR. The radio accuses Swift of ignoring the blatant depictions of colonialism.
“…she packages our continent as the backdrop for her romantic songs devoid of any African person or storyline, and she sets the video in a time when the people depicted by Swift and her co-stars killed, dehumanized and traumatized millions of Africans. That is beyond problematic.”
I wholeheartedly disagree. The concept of the characters she’s playing is to evoke the faulty romance that were expressed in movies like “Out of Africa” or “African Queen.” Though I acknowledge the violent history during those times, the entertainment purpose of the video is being avoided.
Swift’s director, Joseph Kahn defended the video:
“The reality is not only were there people of color in the video, but the key creatives who worked on this video are people of color. I am Asian American, the producer Jil Hardin is an African American woman, and the editor, Chancler Haynes is an African American man. We cast and edited this video. We collectively decided it would have been historically inaccurate to load the crew with more black actors as the video would have been accused of rewriting history. This video is set in the past by a crew set in the present and we are all proud of our work.
“There is no political agenda in the video. Our only goal was to tell a tragic love story in classic Hollywood iconography. Furthermore, this video has been singled out, yet there have been many music videos depicting Africa. These videos have traditionally not been lessons in African history. Let’s not forget, Taylor has chosen to donate all of her proceeds from this video to the African Parks Foundation to preserve the endangered animals of the continent and support the economies of local African people.”
Did you get that? Historically inaccurate. Of course a video like this will spark controversy; BUT the intention was to show the tragic hollywood love story and recreate pieces of films from our history that better express it. Not only that, but as an added measure, she chose to give back to the country she is in. I give a brownie point to Swift.
If we really want to acknowledge the lack of Black representation in American media, we should be asking why only 10% of actors in top-grossing films in the last 5 years were black, and even less when it comes to Hispanics and Asians.
Let me tell you the real problem with Taylor Swift. The reason many Americans do not like her; especially minorities is because she represents the best of White America. She is a product of white privilege. She is someone who will repeatedly be rewarded and benefit from our institution and society. For a time, I felt the same way; but just as she is being rebuked for something she can’t control (i.e the color of her skin) Black Americans are rebuked as well; Just in different ways. Because she is in a privileged position people still force this stereotype and “insenstive white girl” narrative on her to perpetuate hate when the most common form here is jealousy.
I’m not to fond of her music, but she still is a person.
So please give Taylor Swift a break.