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Not even in your Wildest Dreams. An Editorial.

September 5, 2015
(Source: BMGL)

(Source: BMGL)

I can see the end just as it begins, Taylor Nation.

Here at the Swift Agency, just a guy who knows this is not a topic to be taken lightly, we wanted to address the recent controversy over the Taylor Swift’s latest music video, Wildest Dreams. You’ve probably stumbled across a few articles that have debated back and forth whether the video is racist (wait, what?!). Here’s where I have to actually describe a few terms that are not popular, but still, necessary for this discussion.

There is a difference between outright hate, discrimination for someone’s color, and there is racial and/or cultural insensitivity. One of them is intentional, one of them is malicious, the other is when someone could do better but doesn’t for some reason. Wildest Dreams is not racist. It doesn’t ever portray or inspire hatred. It doesn’t glorify hatred. It seeks to emulate the golden age of Hollywood, where exotic desert locales and wild animal life were often the background of romantic adventure movie making. In that, it might be actually committing a second-hand slight… Those movies often would use foreign locations as backgrounds but would not be sensitive to racial diversity or culture.

I could easily point out than the sequences could be completely imagined by Tay’s character since as the movie wraps up we see a fake background, but let’s not take the easy way out here. In this music video, the characters played by Taylor Swift and Scott Eastwood are inspired by actresses and actors of the 1950’s. That is the second focus of the film (shocker, it’s a love story plot based on a song). Yes, there’s elements used back then that are romanticized by movie fanatics. It’s a lavish fantasy. So, you can argue that there’s some cultural insensitivity in the sense that the movie chooses to focus on… the song’s central story. Which is what it is supposed to do. Let’s not forget this is a music video.

Could it do better? Could it be more sensitive to the culture of the background it uses? Here’s where this becomes bittersweet, because the answer is yes. But the problem is how… How do you put a culturally and/or racially sensitive message in this video? Again, you could. But it would really get analyzed to death, wouldn’t it? Joseph Kahn chose to focus on his stars, but one wonders if he could’ve added more diversity in his cast. The director did cast at least one black African actor in the background. That’s because everyone else was also in the background.

(Source: BMGL)

(Source: BMGL)

I’ve had my brushes with racism (you’ve been reading a blog written by half latin, half chinese guy). I can’t put that in the same boat than Wildest Dreams. Yes, this video, like a lot of videos out there, could be more racially and culturally diverse. It also could’ve been much worse. It’s also a music video about dreaming that involves exactly two people in the foreground. Is there room to improve? Yes. Then let’s not tear Taylor down and give her some constructive criticism instead of jumping the shark and taking it to extremes.

Coming up in the Calendar!

(Sources: TheSwiftAgency.com)

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2 Comments
  1. Thomas Kim permalink
    September 6, 2015 2:17 am

    This is nothing more than political correctiveness run amok. First of all, if this was any other artist besides Taylor, would reaction have been the same? I think we all know the answer to that question. Second, not everything needs to have some political or social message or undertone. Especially not a pop music video. Exactly what would’ve been the point of including the locals in this video? How they would’ve fit into this particular storyline? This whole debacle accomplishes absolutely nothing towards fighting real racism and is a complete and utter embarrassment for all media outlets involved. And let’s not forget that when Taylor did include diverse cast for Shake It Off video, these very same people were up in arms about some perceived cultural appropriation. Taylor did nothing wrong back then. And she did nothing wrong now.

  2. September 9, 2015 7:59 am

    Thanks for writing this. Very well said.

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