Is Taylor Swift's first pop music video racist? A fair number of online viewers and a handful of media outlets believe so and are voicing their strong opinions on the issue. But as Taylor sings in the song's lyrics, "haters gonna hate."
Objections to the video seem to center around wardrobe and casting choices. In sections of the clip, Taylor appears in two different costumes more closely associated with hip hop dancers of an earlier decade. Additionally, a group of ballerinas includes only white dancers, while in the hip hop segments Taylor is mostly surrounded by dancers of color.
@taylorswift13 that was so racist thanks for making fun of my childhood (and basically current life).— lulu (@thearm0rfalls) August 14, 2014
Salon.com says Taylor “is participating in racial cross-dressing, blanketed in gold chains and sporting a tight updo, a white woman dressed as a caricature of a black woman, leading a team of black backup dancers. The image is jarring, and is hard not to wonder if this is what Taylor Swift thinks it means to ‘be black,’ and if so, how troubling that is.”
Jezebel.com describes the music video as "cringe-worthy."
Aww, cute!!! Taylor Swift made a mockery of black culture and black womanhood in her new music video! What a sweet, absolutely racist phase.— nez (@nezariel) August 18, 2014
More pointedly, Jezebel writes, "Taylor’s wearing cut off jean shorts, an animal print jacket, big gold hoops and jewelry that harken people of color and a CeCe Peniston curly-cue. But this isn’t cultural appropriation right? Maybe objectification is a better word. Because she’s 'America’s Sweetheart' who knows that dressing up in the cultural cues of another ethnic group isn’t cool, right? But paying dancers to twerk so she can gawk at their bodies ... while literally crawling underneath a London Bridge [of] rotating bums is fine?"
taylor swift really did confirm the whole racist quirky white girl femininity thing— RINA;( (@rinaenkay) August 18, 2014
why are white girls ballerinas and the ones that twerk black thats racist af @taylorswift13— mashycomehometome (@KhanjanPandya16) August 18, 2014
While Taylor has not yet addressed the racism charges, in a recent interview on "Good Morning America" she said, "We live in a take-down culture. People will find anything about you and twist it to where it's weird, or wrong, or annoying, or strange, or bad."
So, you be the judge. Is Taylor's portrayal of different dance cultures racist? Comment below.