Updated: Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” Video Channels “White Colonialism”

September 2, 2015 By Jordan Miller

That’s what people say.

See an update from director Joseph Kahn at the bottom.

Report: Taylor Swift's "Wildest Dreams" Video Channels "White Colonialism"

Taylor Swift never saw this backlash coming, not even in her wildest dreams.

Swift is under fire from after her “Wildest Dreams” music video only depicts wild animals and white people, and as Jezebel’s Madeleine Davies puts it, “bizarrely, nary a black person in sight.”

Directed by Joseph Kahn, who also shot Swift’s “Blank Space” and “Bad Blood” music videos, says he filmed the video in Africa and Los Angeles, saying “When I said I was on vacation, I lied. I was in Africa shooting a #ToothPasteCommercial. Which is WILDEST DREAMS.”

Huffington Post‘s Lauren Duca said the video “channels wild colonialism.” She wrote, “Instead of the cultural appropriation that has become almost status quo in today’s pop music, Swift has opted for the bolder option of actually just embodying the political exploitation of a region and its people.”

The Daily Dot‘s Nico Lang said the video “has a major race problem.” Lang said, “For a clip that’s set in Africa—it’s about as white as a Sunday morning farmer’s market.”

“The video wants to have its old-school Hollywood romance but ends up eating some old-school Hollywood racism, too,” said Lang, adding, “Just because you represent the past or pay respect to it doesn’t mean you need to recreate its worst aspects.”

Mic’s Zak Cheney-Rice talked about the history of white colonialism in Africa. “The video’s narrative of white people finding romance in the hinterlands of a land wracked by colonial violence is not only obliviously ahistorical, but also exhibits tropes that people across the African diaspora have been trying to dispel for years,” said Cheney-Rice.

“The video also takes place in the mid-20th century, a time when such ‘classic’ Hollywood efforts as The African Queen, and Out of Africa were either filmed or set — and which romanticize a version of the era that overlooks the anti-black violence and slavery on which the lifestyles depicted were built,” said Cheney-Rice.

He said it seems “remarkable that the insidious nature of the African colonial fantasy is so seamlessly glossed over.” Cheney-Rice said that this is important because of Swift’s popularity and influence. “When a pop culture product reaches as many people as a Taylor Swift video does, the images it presents have implications beyond their immediate purview.”

Many Tweeted opposition, but some felt Swift was telling a story and didn’t take into account having to include a black person for the sake of remaining PC. Thoughts?

In her "Wildest Dreams" music video. in BreatheHeavy's Hangs on LockerDome


UPDATE: Director Joseph Kahn commented on the subject, “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.”

Kahn Tweeted on Tuesday, “My long time producer Jil Hardin who did Power/Rangers, Blank Space, Wildest Dreams is a (super hot) black woman FYI. People have culture war fatigue. Everyone is angry at everything all the time. We’re just one long Delete It Fat.”