© Taylor Swift, image courtesy of elitedaily.com
If you're a fan of Taylor Swift or not, there's a chance you've scrolled past her new video on Facebook for "Wildest Dreams". Gorgeously shot, each frame is full of glamour, wildlife, and Swift looking more like Lana Del Rey than ever, but there's something off. The video premiered to tremendous backlash after it's debut on the red carpet during the MTV VMAs, with critics accusing Swift of racism and romanticizing white colonialism. While some fans argue that the depiction is true to the time period, others found the absence of people of color in a video taking place in Africa well...um, less than accurate.
As an ameteur director, I can respect the cinematography of the video. I can get behind the color schemes, the scenery, the vintage look. However, I can't get behind whatever message Swift is trying to promote. After a quite public and controversial feud with Nicki Minaj about her snub for Video of The Year, Swift for a lack of better terms, showed her ass. In one tweet she even tries to blame men for her lack of nomination, which is another gestapo tactic employed by white feminists to recenter conversation about race. By the end of the following week, Swift offered Minaj her a "swift" apology, claiming she misspoke. Other reports confirmed that Minaj and Swift had spoken on the phone and "worked things out in private". Whatever that conversation entailed, I have a feeling that Swift didn't learn much that day. This was made clear to me after I watched the video, and not just because of the lack of people of color. In one set of scenes, Swift poses alongside a lion.
How topical of her, considering Cecil the Lion made headlines in the same month as her feud, prompting outrage from millions of Americans after a dentist was accused of killing the lion illegally. When I scrolled across my facebook feed that day, it was littered with tons of posts about this lion, which pissed me off. It's not that I don't feel grief for the life of an animal, but the amount of shock and outrage (coming mostly from my white friends), about this disturbed me considering most of the same ones were silent about the daily killing of black lives in our own country. Black Lives Matter. Where was the outrage for Sandra Bland and the murders at the hands of police? Where was the outrage for the countless killings of trans women of color murdered at the hands of misogyny? Where was the outrage for fellow human life if "All Lives Matter"? It was placed in a twisted white supremacist dream. It lives in picturesque landscapes of Africa, cleansed of the indigenous colour for profit. It lives in the dystopian fantasy of a white wonderland, undisturbed by culture and what it offers to our society. It most certainly lives in the structure of Ms.Swift's new video, and frankly it's blatant flaunting of privilege. At the end of the video she calls for donations to the African Parks Foundation of America. This video sends an image that sends her white fans the wrong message. You've told them all to keep dreaming for a wonderland without color. Good luck with that.