The latest, and unlikeliest, person to be slapped with the feared label of a ‘racist’ is country and pop artist Taylor Swift, who drew outrage from a mob of critics after the release of her latest music video Wildest Dreams.
The video is argued to have depicted an almost all Caucasian cast whilst portraying a glamorized version of white colonialism in Africa. With accusations such as these, people who haven’t seen the video might speculate a happy demonstration of black African slaughter accompanied by the stealing and exploitation of land.
As it turns out, the video in the spotlight is another love story, featuring Swift as a 50s themed actress who has a relationship with a co-star against the backdrop of an African savannah.
Although most countries in the continent are densely black, South Africa has an approximate 4.5 million white Africans making up 8.9% of the population. The wild plains serve as popular destinations for tourists, movies and documentaries. This makes the congregation of a few filmmakers without a 50-50 black-to-white ratio not an entirely unimaginable occurrence.
The video does not even attempt to comment on colonialism, nor does it present itself as a source from which viewers can glean an accurate history lesson about Africa in the 50s. This isn’t the first time Swift has been accused of producing racist videos. Her successful hit Shake it Off attracted a wave of negative attention for having black urban dancers, which commentators argued perpetuated a stereotype.
Although it is unclear and bewildering how featuring black people performing urban dance that promotes a notion of ‘coolness’ equates to Taylor Swift believing an entire race of people is inferior to her, it didn’t stop a barrage of people voicing their premature opinions.
Haven’t watched the taylor swift video and I don’t need to watch it to tell you that it’s inherently offensive and ultimately harmful. It is perpetuating black stereotypes to the same demographic of white girls who hide their prejudice by proclaiming their love of the culture. For instance, those of you who are afraid of black people but love that in 2014 it’s ok for you to be trill or twerk or say nigga, [SIC] tweeted rapper Earl Sweatshirt.
Perhaps if he had seen the video he would know that both white and black people were shown to be twerking.
Critics armed with similarly strange logic have taken aim at other works of fiction this year, including the lukewarm film Aloha, starring Bradley Cooper; Rachel McAdams and Emma Stone.
Native Hawaiian activists have raised concerns about the movie title ‘aloha’ stating it is a romanticised version of the word, that the film ignored its historical context and was void of any cultural significance. This is a candid review, but seeing as this Hollywood product is about a military themed love triangle, the less-than-realistic depiction of Hawaii isn’t totally unexpected.
As contemporary dialogue remains saturated with a forceful and omnipresent PC culture, issuing a disclaimer at the beginning of music videos that warns viewers they are not about to watch an accurate and elaborate representation of a place, person or thing may be a necessity.
As it no longer goes without saying, Taylor Swift is not a racist.
All proceeds from Swift’s “racist” video has been donated to the African Parks Foundation to help aid in both animal conservation and the local economies.