Guys. I’m feeling very.
conflicted right now.
At first I watched Taylor Swift’s new music video in collaboration with director Joseph Kahn, Wildest Dreams and I was blown away. Not only is the song pretty OK for the genre of pop, but I’m a sucker for old Hollywood. Give me an old-school film camera, a female lead with a head scarf, and some wide shots of a beautiful foreign landscape and I’m sold.
Oh My G-ddess there’s a GIRAFFE!!!!!
Then, I made the mistake of heading to my Facebook timeline. All my liberal activist (or at least social media activist) friends were NOT PLEASED with Taylor’s colonialist-loving, Africa-troping video. Why? There aren’t any black people in an ENTIRE VIDEO about Africa (Edit: In a Washington Post article defending the video, Joseph Kahn explains that there are black people in the background of some shots he just didn’t cut to them for closeups) Also, it harkens back to colonialism, which pretty much nobody but those of white European descent can say was a good time for their ancestors. Furthermore, Africa is a HUGE COUNTRY (ahem CONTINENT DUH) with many, diverse nations so to portray it as if it is just Simba’s playground is offensive to all those nations.
Offensive maybe, but damn, it looks like a good time. Hakuna Matata anyone?
Here, I describe the stages of feeling that went through me:
- DENIAL: Everyone needs to chill out. Why can no one ever make anything artistic without being criticized for being racist or anti-feminist, etc?
- ANGER: Oh god I’m racist. I’m a privileged white girl who will never understand the struggle. I didn’t realize it was racist. HOW DID I NOT NOTICE THERE WEREN’T ANY BLACK PEOPLE. IT’S AFRICA!
- BARGAINING: I just really like lions and zebras is that so bad? Oh god I’m racist.
- DEPRESSION: Taylor Swift is racist. I’m racist. The world is a horrible place where people get murdered for no reason and babies are aways hungry and then they die.
- ACCEPTANCE: Well, at least Nutella is still a thing…oooh oh and bananas. Bananas and nutella! And chocolate chip cookie dough icecream! Hold on, let me go to the fridge and see if I have those things.
It is literally impossible for me to come up with my own opinions anymore (thanks internet!) so I take you to the The Atlantic with an article that hit the nail on the hammer. Writer Spencer Kornhaber points out that the video is a nostalgic look at a world that clearly doesn’t exist. The makers of the video are looking nostalgically at movies (not reality) that focus on the African savannah, and yes these films feature white people and white crew members because that’s what was done at the time. The Atlantic continues that this is just nostalgia but even nostalgia can piss some people off, because in the nostalgic past, sh-t was f-cked up. Thanks again, white and WASPy ancestors.
I’m just left wondering, if everyone gets offended all the time and no one can make any sort of art without pissing someone off then where do we go from here? Do we just keep arguing on the comments sections in Youtube? I thought writing this post would make me feel less conflicted and sad about the state of the world, but here I am, one blog post down and one and 1/2 gin and tonics in and still very confused and sad. Life is strange, guys.
The only real lesson I’ve learned from all this is that T Swift looks good with any shade of hair. Bitch.
And in a final note, can we all agree that it’s not a bad thing that Taylor is donating the proceeds of the video to the African Parks Foundation of America? Maybe there are other causes, but geez, good acts shouldn’t be pooped on. Even if they are publicity stunts.