This music video and my grandfather have so much in common. That’s not a sentence you see a lot, but in this case it is very true. If you haven’t watched the latest T Swift vid, check it out here and then see my explanation below.
So, Taylor Swift’s new video for “Wildest Dreams” has come under fire for being racist. Set in the African Sahara, Swift plays an old-fashioned Hollywood starlet who falls in love with her on-screen paramour. Only problem is, there’s not a single black person in the video, it romanticizes colonialism, and simplifies the idea of “Africa” down to an offensive cliché.
Guess what? I love it anyways. I’ve watched it seven times. And I’m not going to apologize. Because you know what else is racist that I love anyways? My grandpa. My grandpa is definitely racist, and I love him very, very much.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of my grandpa and the “Wildest Dreams” video.
- “Wildest Dreams” isn’t the kind of overt racist where it hates people of color. It’s more about its own complete lack of self-awareness that appropriating African colonialism for a music video comes off as incredibly insensitive in 2015. In person, my grandpa doesn’t treat black people any different than anyone else, but he definitely likes to say that the New York Jets are “just a bunch of thugs.”
- Taylor Swift is a talented and compelling performer who’s never looked better than in that yellow dress, and my grandpa is the most generous man I know.
- “Wildest Dreams” hurts its case by putting a screen up at the end that reads: “All of Taylor’s proceeds from this video will be donated to wild animal conservation efforts through the African Parks Foundation of America.” Which is exactly what it’s like when my grandpa points out that he has a black friend.
- “Wildest Dreams”’ cinematography is breathtaking, and my grandpa gives the most thoughtful Christmas gifts.
- “Wildest Dreams” is the type of video that I would have loved without abandon before I went to college and learned that race is important. I still love it, but I’m aware that it’s not perfect. Same thing with my grandpa.
- Taylor rides in a biplane while wearing a mint jumper and a leopard-print scarf, and my grandpa treats my grandmother so, so well.
- In a lot of ways, “Wildest Dreams” knows that it’s saying something it’s not supposed to say, but it doesn’t care because it’ll get more views. That’s my grandpa at Thanksgiving.
- The way Taylor says, “He’s so bad,” to the makeup person gets me every time, and my grandpa once let 15 of my friends pie him in the face for my 10th birthday.
- Defenders of “Wildest Dreams” say that “not everything has to be about race,” which is what my grandpa says after claiming that we should stop saying Barack Obama is black.
- Oh my gosh, the moment when you find out he’s married! And also I would be nowhere in life without my Grandpa’s unconditional support.
So, yeah, “Wildest Dreams” is pretty racist. And I get why people might not like it, and sure, I might sometimes be embarrassed about the way it treats waitresses in restaurants. But goddammit, I love it.