All-American pop star Taylor Swift premiered her latest video, “Wildest Dreams,” this Sunday at the VMAS. In the video, Swift prances around in an enviable collection of luxury dresses on a faux 1950s movie set with Scott Eastwood. Swift and Eastwood co-star in the theoretical mid-century colonial film, gallivanting together across open landscapes and waterfalls that suggest ‘untamed,’ African beauty.
If this isn’t obviously racist colonial nonsense to you, I don’t know what to tell you. America too was once virgin soil, just waiting to be discovered, photographed, farmed, and mined. White colonizers have seen many places as opportune locales for adventure, escape, or extraction. But let’s not forget the uncountable number of people from the global south (and in our own country) that died then and are dying now as a result of the not-so-subtle violence of “Wildest Dreams'” aesthetic. The video also totally hypes up colonial violence by posturing Swift and Eastwood like Tarzan’s Jane and friends. Okay white people… your outfit is only sort of cute and also reeks of systemic bloodshed.
And wait a second…where in Africa is this even supposed to take place? It’s not clear, but I know it must be in Africa because I am a white person and the only formal education I have regarding African history is thanks to The Lion King or to the zoo’s descriptive placards. In Taylor Swift’s appropriative video, we don’t have to acknowledge that Africa is a real place with real people who have real identities. According to Swift and her crew, our mass-consumption of a skinny white girl twirling amongst zebras is more important than people’s actual lives.
In fact, Swift gets within cuddling distance with an absolutely terrifying lion but doesn’t get anywhere near African people in her video, let alone show them onscreen. Really? Are you more scared of black people than the 420-pound king of the jungle?
Watch the video here:
Images and video taken from VEVO