Taylor Swift recently debuted her music video for “Wildest Dreams,” co-starring Scott Eastwood, and it is receiving criticism from some media outlets for its content.
The video was shot in an undisclosed location in Africa and directed by Joseph Kahn. It tells the story of two 1950s actors having a relationship while shooting a film in Africa. Jezebel’s Madeleine Davies describes the storyline as Old Hollywood meets Out of Africa. “It’s all passion and desire while on location (isn’t it funny how wild things get in Africa?), but once back in Hollywood and shooting on a soundstage, our poor lovelorn colonizers just can’t get it together.”
Many outlets have pointed out that the film only depicts wild animals and white people with, as Davies puts it, “bizarrely, nary a black person in sight.” The title of a Fader article about the video reads, “Taylor Swift Went To Africa To Film A Music Video And There’s Only White People In It.” The Huffington Post, Mic and The Daily Dot criticized Swift for the video.
Huffington Post’s Lauren Duca said the video “channels wild colonialism.” She wrote, “Instead of the cultural appropriation that has become almost status quo in today’s pop music, Swift has opted for the bolder option of actually just embodying the political exploitation of a region and its people.”
The Daily Dot’s Nico Lang said the video “has a major race problem.” Lang said, “For a clip that’s set in Africa — it’s about as white as a Sunday morning farmer’s market.”
“The video wants to have its old-school Hollywood romance but ends up eating some old-school Hollywood racism, too,” said Lang, adding, “Just because you represent the past or pay respect to it doesn’t mean you need to recreate its worst aspects.”
Mic’s Zak Cheney-Rice talked about the history of white colonialism in Africa. “The video’s narrative of white people finding romance in the hinterlands of a land wracked by colonial violence is not only obliviously ahistorical, but also exhibits tropes that people across the African diaspora have been trying to dispel for years,” said Cheney-Rice.
Taylor Swift’s camp was contacted by THR for comment and did not reply at press time.
This article originally appeared in THR.com.
— Joseph Kahn (@JosephKahn) August 24, 2015
Say you’ll remember me
Standing in a nice dress
Staring at the sunset, babe
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) August 29, 2015