Director Joseph Kahn Defends Latest Taylor Swift Video Accused Of Racism

We’re seeing the beginnings of a pattern here: Taylor Swift makes a sleek, high-profile video that seems racially weird in some way or another, and that video’s director then steps forward to defend the video, and Swift, against charges of racism. It happened last year, when “Shake It Off” director Mark Romanek addressed Earl Sweatshirt, who’d called the video racist, claiming he just cast the best dancers he could find. And now it’s happened with Joseph Kahn, who directed Swift’s new video for “Wildest Dreams” and who would like you to know that the video is not racist.

In the “Wildest Dreams” video, Swift plays an old-timey movie star who seems to be in love with a castmate who’s involved with somebody else. For most of the video, Swift and her love interest are seen filming in Africa, against a backdrop of wildlife that includes a giraffe and a lion. Conspicuously absent from the video: Any black people at all. Pieces in places like Salon and The FADER are arguing that Swift’s video presents an old and dangerous vision of white colonialism.

Swift and Kahn filmed the video in Botswana and South Africa, and a graphic at the end claims that Swift is donating the proceeds from the video to the African Parks Foundation of America. And as Reuters reports, Kahn has jumped on Twitter to defend Swift and the video itself, writing: “My long time producer Jil Hardin who did Power/Rangers, Blank Space, Wildest Dreams is a (super hot) black woman FYI… I absolutely love that Taylor donated all her video proceeds to African parks Foundation. She’s lost a lot of money doing that. Good soul.” That’s not exactly the most impassioned defense, but it’s something.

UPDATE: Kahn has continued to defend his work on Twitter.