Two days ago, Taylor Swift released a new video for her song Wildest Dreams. It’s been viewed upwards of 15 million times.
The video, directed by Joseph Kahn, features Swift being made up on the plains of Africa — she’s obviously an actress in the music video, on the set of a 1950s film — while flirting with her co-star, Scott Eastwood. The video shows her making out with Eastwood a good deal, standing in glamour poses near various exotic animals, flying above Africa in a biplane, riding a horse, and then standing on a set in Hollywood with an African safari backdrop. The punch line: she arrives at the premiere of this 1950s-style film, finds Eastwood is married, and flees the theater.
The video is obviously a riff on various high-profile celebrity romances from the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood, when co-stars would routinely travel abroad to exotic locales, become lovers, and then return back to the United States with their personal baggage. Swift’s suddenly-brunette hair is a shout-out to Elizabeth Taylor, and the whole scenario reeks of Taylor’s romance with Richard Burton.
The video concludes with this line: “All of Taylor’s proceeds from this video will be donated to wild animal conservation efforts through the African Parks Foundation of America.”
This nod to environmentalism bought no sympathy from the social justice warriors, however, who have deemed the video – you guessed it – racist. Viviane Rutabingwa and James Kassaga Arinaitwe, professional useless people, wrote a piece for NPR in which they accuse Swift of bigotry for the cast’s excessive whiteness – even though the video has nothing to do with Africa or African people except as a shout-out to an Out of Africa stylistic flourish. Rutabingwa and Arinaitwe write:
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.
They continue by labeling Ernest Hemingway’s Snows of Kilimanjaro and David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia romanticizations of colonialism, then add, snidely:
Here are some facts for Swift and her team: Colonialism was neither romantic nor beautiful. It was exploitative and brutal. The legacy of colonialism still lives quite loudly to this day. Scholars have argued that poor economic performance, weak property rights and tribal tensions across the continent can be traced to colonial strategies. So can other woes. In a place full of devastation and lawlessness, diseases spread like wildfire, conflict breaks out and dictators grab power.
Presumably, Swift should have shown some Boers raping native Africans in the background, or perhaps a picture of an Ebola-stricken villager dying beneath the boots of a Cecil Rhodes-looking actor.
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