Taylor Swift accused of racism in 'African colonial fantasy' video

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift has found herself embroiled in fresh race-related controversy after the video for her song Wildest Dreams was accused of having racist overtones.

Related: Is Taylor Swift's colonial fantasy the beginning of the end?

The Joseph Kahn-directed video, which was revealed at Sunday’s MTV video music awards and has already been viewed more than 14m times on YouTube, has been accused of portraying an “African colonial fantasy” due to its largely white cast, despite being filmed in an undisclosed location in Africa.

It sees Swift, with her trademark blonde hair dyed dark, on a 1950s film set opposite the fictional movie’s leading man, played by the actor Scott Eastwood. It also features wild animals including giraffes, lions and zebras – all proceeds from the video are being donated to the African Parks Foundation of America.

The video for Wildest Dreams.

The backlash from bloggers and social media users has seen the video likened to outdated storylines that romanticised European rule over Africa. Madeleine Davies, a writer on the feminist blog Jezebel, described it as Old Hollywood meets Out of Africa. “It’s all passion and desire while on location (isn’t it funny how wild things get in Africa?), but once back in Hollywood and shooting on a soundstage, our poor lovelorn colonisers just can’t get it together,” she wrote.

The title of an article on Fader, the music and lifestyle blog, read: “Taylor Swift Went to Africa to Film a Music Video and There’s Only White People in it.” On the blog for National Public Radio in the US, contributors Viviane Rutabingwa and James Kassaga Arinaitwe wrote: “We are shocked to think that in 2015, Taylor Swift, her record label and her video production group would think it was OK to film a video that presents a glamorous version of the white colonial fantasy of Africa.”

And Lauren Duca, of the Huffington Post, added: “Instead of the cultural appropriation that has become almost status quo in today’s pop music, Swift has opted for the bolder option of actually just embodying the political exploitation of a region and its people.”

This is not the first time Swift has been accused of cultural insensitivity. Her hit video for Shake it Off was described as perpetuating black stereotypes because it featured only people of colour to portray urban dancers while using only white people in its ballet scenes.

The singer was also forced to row back after a spat with Nicki Minaj over what the rapper viewed to be inherent racism in the music industry. “I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke,” Swift said.

Although the 25-year-old is yet to comment on the recent criticisms, many have sprung to her defence, praising Wildest Dreams’ concept and cause.