Taylor Swift launched her latest music video for her newest single “Wildest Dreams” earlier this week and now its director, Joseph Kahn, has had to come to its defense following backlash of white-washing the cast and claims it glamorizes African colonialism.
The video is placed in Africa; however, it stars mainly white actors with Taylor Swift and actor Scott Eastwood as the leads. An NPR article titled, “Taylor Swift Is Dreaming Of a Very White Africa,” states, “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. 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.”
Kahn responded with a lengthy statement in which he noted that he is Asian American, the producer is an African American woman (Jill Hardin) and the editor is an African American man (Chancler Haynes).
“‘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 screentime is Taylor and Scott.” He also said, “we are all proud of our work” and “there is no political agenda in the video.”
Swift has not commented on the backlash or the director’s remarks.