Taylor Swift, who seems to be America’s darling, isn’t bulletproof from criticism it appears. The 1989 superstar has come under fire for her Africa-themed video, “Wildest Dreams,” and the fact there were no Black people featured in the piece.
Raw Story highlighted some of the chatter around Swift’s video, which debuted this past Sunday during MTV’s Video Music Awards. The video, directed by Asian-American Joseph Khan, has been picked apart by Huffington Post and NPR for not featuring Black Africans in any of the scenes. In the video, Swift and Scott Eastwood are fashioned like a modern-day Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
The outlets took umbrage with Kahn’s lack of diversity, but the director hit back in a statement to online publication Quartz.
More from Quartz:
Wildest Dreams is a song about a relationship that was doomed, and the music video concept was that they were having a love affair on location away from their normal lives. This is not a video about colonialism but a love story on the set of a period film crew in Africa, 1950.
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. The video is based on classic Hollywood romances like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, as well as classic movies like The African Queen, Out of Africa and The English Patient, to name a few.
The reality is not only were there people of color in the video, but the key creatives who worked on this video are people of color. I am Asian American, the producer Jil Hardin is an African American woman, and the editor Chancler Haynes is an African American man. We cast and edited this video. 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.
Somehow, it doesn’t appear that folks will be completely satisfied but does Kahn’s explanation keep him and Swift off the hook here? Sound off in the comments if you agree or disagree.