Taylor Swift's Wildest Dreams video slammed for glamourising colonialism
Taylor Swift's latest music video has got people talking for all the wrong reasons.
Since being uploaded to YouTube on Sunday (Aug 30), the video for Wildest Dreams, the fifth single taken off Swift's 1989 album, has racked up close to 19 million views and also received flak for being racist and giving an inaccurate portrayal of colonialism.
As per most of her other videos, Wildest Dreams centres around the 26-year-old's fictional love life, with Scott Eastwood — the son of the legendary actor and filmaker Clint Eastwood — as her love interest.
The plot's fairly simple. Swift and Eastwood are 1950s Hollywood stars who fall in love while filming a movie in Africa, but everything falls apart when Swift discovers that her dream man isn't as good as she thought he was. It's what you'd expect from a typical Taylor Swift video but critics think there's more to it.
In an article —titled Taylor Swift Is Dreaming of A Very White Africa— posted on the National Public Radio's website, writers Viviane Rutabingwa and James Kassaga Arinaitwe slammed the singer for glamourising a dark period in African history.
They wrote: "She (Swift) 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, dehumanised and traumatised millions of Africans. That is beyond problematic."
Mirror UK reported that Huffington Post writer Lauren Duca was also critical of Swift.
On the day of the video's release, Duca wrote in her article: "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. It's brave, really. Almost as brave as moving sensuously in the vicinity of a real-life lion."
Swift has also been criticised for the video on social media.
PHOTOS: YOUTUBE / SCREENGRAB
According to CNN, Wildest Dreams director director Joseph Kahn, who worked with Swift on her Bad Blood and Blank Space music videos, feels that people are reading too much into a video that's supposed to be about a "tragic love story".
"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," explained Kahn.
He added: "There is no political agenda in the video. Our only goal was to tell a tragic love story in classic Hollywood iconography."
Whether or not Swift can shake this one off remains to be seen but meanwhile, you can watch the video for yourself to see if it indeed presents an inaccurate portrayal of Africa and colonialism of if everyone's just overreacting.
Sources: CNN, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, Mirror UK