By: Jonathan Hogue ~Opinions & Editorials Editor~
Taylor Swift released a music video for her new single, “Wildest Dreams” on Aug. 30. Following the release social media lit up with speculation that the music video had dark racial undertones and glamourized colonization. By Google searching “Taylor Swift Wildest Dreams controversy,” you can see the anger for yourself across the Internet. To the people who are angry about this, I have one thing to say: Really?
The video is a harmless music video by a pop star. Opponents argue that her music video romanticizes old Hollywood films that once glamourized Africa as a place of mystique and wonder.
These films left out information about the centuries of colonization that “westernized” areas to fit warped ideas about Africa. Her music video is not a representation of white supremacy or her agreeing with the evils of colonization.
Anyone who watched the video will notice it focuses on the romance between the co-stars and the pain they endure after finishing their film shoot. There is no reference or even the slightest reason that the video is in support of colonization or a continuation of early Hollywood’s white-washing techniques. Opponents were also angry that Swift’s video did not feature African Americans. They argue that for a video filmed in Africa, Swift’s lack of diversity seemed to be racist. So I have a question: If Swift did include a Black person in her video, would that indicate progress for the the Black community?
There are people of all shades of color in Africa. Popular culture tends to show only Black Africans, but there are Africans of every background on the continent. To argue that because Swift did not include a Black African is ignorant because it shows that opponents need to open their eyes and notice that Africa is not a one-color continent.
Swift should be judged on her singing ability, songwriting and creativity. I do not personally have a problem with her music video. My problems stem from her pitchy live performances and bland song lyrics. If critics focus on her musicality and do not try to turn her work into something that it is not, we may be able to have a rational debate about Taylor Swift’s art.