"Wildest Dreams" is not "glamorizing white colonialism".
When NPR called out Taylor Swift's new music video "Wildest Dreams" as being racist and glamorizing white colonialism, Swift's director fired back. Joseph Khan, the director of the film, had no issue with addressing the criticism. Swift was undoubtedly thrilled to introduce her new music which could be the most elaborate and shockingly gorgeous music videos to date. It takes place in 1950's Africa where a love affair takes place between Swift and hunky Scott Eastwood.
The music video premiered at the 32nd annual MTV Video Music Awards pre-show on Sunday, Aug. 30. Swift even got to introduce the music video herself! However minutes after the video had ended on live television, fans from around the world took to social media (predominantly Twitter) to show their support or dismay of the video. On one side, fans were in awe of how gorgeous the video was proving her cinematic taste was flawless. The other side immediately criticized her for the lack of any African-American actors in the video that took place in Africa. Some believe it promoted colonialism which is a very dark aspect of African culture. However, the director still has claimed this was not the intent or reality.
The Full Statement from Khan to NPR:
“Wildest Dreams” is a song about a relationship that was doomed, and the music video concept was that they were having a love affair on location away from their normal lives. This is not a video about colonialism but a love story on the set of a period film crew in Africa,1950.
There are black Africans in the video in a number of shots, but I rarely cut to crew faces outside of the director as the vast majority of screentime is Taylor and Scott.
The video is based on classic Hollywood romances like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, as well as classic movies like The African Queen, Out of Africa and The English Patient, to name a few.
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 historicially 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.
*Swift has yet to make a personal comment.
You be the judge.
This isn't the first mega superstar that Khan has worked with. His amazing list of stars is as followed : Britney Spears, Eminem, Christina Aguilera, Destiny's Child, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga, Backstreet Boys, Mariah Carey, and Maroon 5. Swift adds to his impressive resume and it will be no surprise who he makes a video for next (definitely another A-lister).
So what do you think? Do you think the video had racist undertones?