In the category of Controversies I Never Thought Could Exist, I give you Taylor Swift as glamorizer and apologist for White European colonialism in Africa. Or, as the Guardian’s headline put it:
Taylor Swift accused of racism in ‘African colonial fantasy’ video
The fuss centers on the video for Swift’s new single, “Wildest Dreams,” in which the singer plays an actress falling for her hunky co-star
Critics are shocked that,
Taylor Swift, her record label and her video production group would think it was OK to film a video that presents a glamorous version of the white colonial fantasy of Africa.
Here are some facts for Swift and her team: Colonialism was neither romantic nor beautiful. It was exploitative and brutal. The legacy of colonialism still lives quite loudly to this day.
Yes, yes, yes, and yes. All of that is true. But wow, that’s a lot of indignation to heap on something as inconsequential as a Taylor Swift video. At least in my book. So I watched the thing (the sacrifices I make for you, dear reader), and while it pains me to say so, I have to agree with the director, Joseph Khan, who told NPR in a statement:
This is not a video about colonialism but a love story on the set of a period film crew in Africa, 1950.
But then he ruins it with the equivalent of “I have lots of black friends …”:
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.
I chalk this one up to our current fascination with the Outrage of the Day. And I totally didn’t write this just so I could post a clickbait photo of Taylor Swift and her leg …
Oh yeah, here’s the video.