September 3, 2015


Taylor Swift's "Wildest Dreams" Director Worsens Video Controversy

Kevin Winter/MTV1415/Getty Images For MTV
Kevin Winter/MTV1415/Getty Images For MTV

Taylor Swift's "Wildest Dreams" music video debuted Sunday night; like all her 1989 visualsit's sumptuous and high budget. But its almost exclusively white cast, coupled with the fact it was filmed on location in Botswana and South Africa, has engendered headlines like:

  • Taylor Swift Is Dreaming of a Very White Africa [NPR]
  • Taylor Swift’s Logic-Defying “African Safari” Fiasco [Salon]
  • The Big Problem With Taylor Swift's New Music Video That Nobody Is Talking About [Mic]

Following the critiques, Reuters contacted Joseph Kahn, the 42-year-old director behind "Wildest Dreams," as well as Swift's "Bad Blood," Eminem and Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie," Muse's "Knights of Cydonia," Blink-182's "Always," Destiny's Child's "Say My Name" and "Jumpin' Jumpin'"—the 25-year list goes on and on.

Kahn noted that black African actors were pictured in the background, but that with a 1950s movie–themed narrative, it would have been "historically inaccurate to load the crew with more black actors as the video would have been accused of rewriting history. ... There is no political agenda in the video. Our only goal was to tell a tragic love story in classic Hollywood iconography." 

Reuters also has a line saying, "He also noted that the video's producer, Jil Hardin, and editor Chancler Haynes are both African-American."

All pretty standard stuff. But Kahn's Twitter, followed by 37,500 people, blew the situation up even more—and not in a good way:

It wasn't all poorly worded, screwed-up defense, though. Kahn did at least point out the objective positives of the "Wildest Dreams" video: