Taylor Swift has once again found herself at the center of a social media firestorm — this time over her video for “Wildest Dreams,” which is stirring debate over the racial composition of the video’s cast.
The controversy began shortly after the release of the Africa-set video on Sunday, and was largely fueled by an article published on NPR’s website. The article, “Taylor Swift Is Dreaming of a Very White Africa,” blasts the video for portraying a vision of Africa in which nearly all of those depicted are white.
“Taylor Swift is dressed as a colonial-era woman on African soil. With just a few exceptions, the cast in the video — the actors playing her boyfriend and a movie director and his staff — all appear to be white,” the article reads. “We are shocked to think that in 2015, 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.”
The article continues, “Swift’s music is entertaining for many. She should absolutely be able to use any location as a backdrop. But she packages our continent as the backdrop for her romantic songs devoid of any African person or storyline, and she sets the video in a time when the people depicted by Swift and her co-stars killed, dehumanized and traumatized millions of Africans. That is beyond problematic.”
Swift herself has yet to weigh in on the criticism on her Facebook or Twitter accounts. (And to her credit, the singer has decided to donate the proceeds from the video to the African Parks Foundation of America). However, the video has sparked a flurry of tweets both pro and con.
“‘Wildest Dreams’ is T-Swift’s most overt performance of whiteness since well, her last video,” BuzzFeed ‘s Anne Helen Peterson jabbed.
“New Taylor Swift video=evidence of how colonialism is romanticized & plays out 1 of the cliched stereotypes of ‘Africa’. More so-it’s boring,” another detractor hissed.
“Over T. Swift’s racist messages. I was so rooting for you, bb, but my wildest dreams are NOT of colonialism,” yet another non-fan commented.
“I question your pleasure principal if your “Wildest Dreams” are to fall in love in colonial Africa by erasing black ppl from the continent,” went one particularly pointed tweet.
Of course, Swift also has her supporters in the matter.
“Taylor has black people in the Shake It Off/Bad Blood vid & she’s called racist, but no black people in Wildest Dreams makes her racist too,” one pro-Swift tweet noted.
“If you think taylor is ‘racist’ for not having black people in wildest dreams you’re reaching so hard and looking for any reason to hate her,” said another member of Team Taylor, who later added, “If taylor had shown black people in wildest dreams everyone would complain that she used them as props like she can’t win no matter what.”
Read some of the tweets and watch the video below.
“Wildest Dreams” is T-Swift’s most overt performance of whiteness since well, her last video
– Anne Helen Petersen (@annehelen) September 2, 2015
Over T. Swift’s racist messages. I was so rooting for you, bb, but my wildest dreams are NOT of colonialism. http://t.co/tKRC8gBDN4
– Megan Reid (@meg_r) September 2, 2015
Taylor has black people in the Shake It Off/Bad Blood vid & she’s called racist, but no black people in Wildest Dreams makes her racist too — Wildest Dreams Fan (@KingSwift13) September 1, 2015
if taylor had shown black people in wildest dreams everyone would complain that she used them as props like she can’t win no matter what
– allison ღ (@sojumpthenfall) September 2, 2015