The director of Taylor Swift’s ‘Wildest Dreams’ music video has defended his work against accusations of racism. The video, which is set on a 1940s style film set on safari, has been accused of presenting a "white colonial fantasy of Africa".
“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,” two bloggers, Viviane Rutabingwa and James Kassaga Arinaitwe, wrote.
This is just one example as there are many more bloggers and social media users who have criticised the video.
Director Joseph Kahn, who has previously worked on Swift’s videos for ‘Blank Space and ‘Bad Blood’, released a statement responding to the backlash against the video. He claimed the video was not attempting to glamourise colonialism or ‘white-washing’ Africa but was ‘historically accurate’. He further claimed those working behind the scenes of the video were of many different races and nationalities. Kahn himself is Asian-American.
"The reality is not only were there people of colour in the video, but the key creatives who worked on this video are people of colour,” Kahn said in his statement, as the BBC reports.
"We collectively decided it would have been historically 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 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 screen time is Taylor and Scott (Eastwood).''
Presumably, Kahn has drawn inspiration from film sets from the first half of the 20th century. However, claiming the matter is an issue of historical accuracy is inaccurate in itself. Films from the same period which were set and indeed filmed in Africa, such as The African Queen (1951), feature black actors. They mainly appear in minor roles but they are present. It is uncertain if this was taken into consideration for the video of ‘Wildest Dreams’.
Swift has yet to comment on the accusations but she has announced she will be donating all proceeds from the video to the African Parks Foundation.
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