Entertainment & Arts

Taylor Swift director defends 'colonial' Africa video

In a still from the video Taylor Swift's glamorous dress blows in the wind, while a giraffe stands nearby Image copyright Universal/ Big Machine
Image caption The video for Wildest Dreams was filmed in Botswana and South Africa

The director of Taylor Swift's new video has defended it following criticisms it depicts a whitewashed version of Africa.

The video for Wildest Dreams had been accused of glamorising a "white colonial fantasy of Africa".

But director Joseph Kahn has said it "is not a video about colonialism but a love story on the set of a period film crew in Africa, 1950".

Swift has not commented on the controversy around the video.

In a statement Kahn denied that the video only includes white people.

"The reality is not only were there people of colour in the video, but the key creatives who worked on this video are people of colour."

He points out he is Asian American, while the producer Jill Hardin and editor Chancler Haynes are African Americans.

"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."

"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 (Eastwood).''

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Joseph Kahn also made the Taylor Swift video Blank Space which won an award at the MTV VMAs on Sunday

The video has been viewed more than 19 million times since it was released on Monday, but criticism was quick to come online.

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

Writing for NPR Viviane Rutabingwa and James Kassaga Arinaitwe said they were "shocked" that in 2015 Swift, her record label and video production team "would think it was OK to film a video that presents a glamorous version of the white colonial fantasy of Africa".

They said the video "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, dehumanized and traumatized millions of Africans. That is beyond problematic."

Last year the video for Swift's song Shake it Off, which featured twerking dancers, was criticised for "perpetuating black stereotypes".

The director of that video, Mark Romanek, spoke out to defend it calling it "a satirical piece... playing with a whole range of music-video tropes and cliches and stereotypes".

A number of wild animals are featured in the Wildest Dreams film and the proceeds from the advertising around the video are being donated to the African Parks Foundation of America.

The video's editor Chancler Haynes tweeted he was "proud to have edited" the video and said Swift's "donating to Africa is beyond dope".

Image copyright Twitter

Related Topics

More on this story