Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” video an unrealistic representation

By Jacob Wittich, Managing Editor

On Aug. 30, amid the absurdity of the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, Taylor Swift dropped her latest music video for “Wildest Dreams,” the fifth single off the star’s record-breaking album, 1989.

The Joseph Kahn-directed clip features Swift playing the role of a dark-haired, early 20th-century movie star who falls in love with her hunky co-star, played by Scott Eastwood, on the set of her latest flick in Africa.

The video features stunning cinematography, depicting sweeping African landscapes, wild African animals  and a handful of dramatic glamour shots of Swift. Despite this, Swift is facing backlash, yet again, for her music videos.

In a Sept. 1 NPR article, writers Viviane Rutabingwa and James Kassaga Arinaitwe criticize Swift for featuring few black characters and exploiting and promoting the colonization of Africa. Kahn has since defended the clip, writing in an emailed statement to NPR that the video “is not a video about colonialism but a love story on the set of a period film crew in Africa, 1950,” pointing out that he is Asian American and Jil Hardin, the clip’s producer, and Chancler Haynes, the editor, are both African American.

In spite of this, NPR’s criticisms still stand. Much of Swift’s career—ranging from her videography to her clique of famous friends—lacked diversity.

While it is true that the video does feature black people, they are only cast in minor roles, such as faceless members of the film crew or onlookers in a crowd in the fictitious film’s Hollywood premiere.

However, this is nothing new to Swift’s videography. The singer’s previous video for “Bad Blood,” which broke viewing records and was recently awarded the prestigious “Video of the Year” award at the VMAs, features cameos from 17 of her famous friends, including singers, actresses and super models. However, most of the women starring in the video are attractive, white women.

Dubbed the “Taylor Swift Squad,” the video’s star-studded cast is more reminiscent of models in a runway show than the diverse army of fans attending her concerts.

Scrolling through Swift’s Instagram account, one can see she mostly surrounds herself with other thin, blonde, white women.

Given the massive influence Swift currently has on our generation, ranging from adoring 10-year-olds to college students who find her relatable, it is irresponsible of Swift to continue promoting this image.

Many of Swift’s recent public actions, such as disagreeing with Nicki Minaj’s public displeasure with being snubbed in MTV’s “Video of the Year” nominations for her record-breaking “Anaconda” video, also show that she doesn’t quite get the importance of diversity.

In light of recent events, she should take a critical eye and aim to present an image as diverse as her fanbase.