"Shake It Off" Director Mark Romanek Defends Taylor Swift Amid Criticism Of Cultural Appropriation
Finally, someone's stepped up to the plate. "Shake It Off" director Mark Romanek has spoken out in defense of Taylor Swift following public criticism for the song's reinforcement of racial stereotypes. In a conversation with Vulture, Romanek specifically responded to the criticism of the video from Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt, who tweeted that the video's perpetuation of black stereotypes is "inherently offensive and ultimately harmful". The rapper candidly pointed out his disappointment in the video's portrayal of black culture as "a form of entertainment", to which Romanek responded, “We simply choose styles of dance that we thought would be popular and amusing and cast the best dancers that were presented to us without much regard to race or ethnicity[...]It's very, very innocently and positively intentioned".
Romanek also credited swift with the creation of the video's concept: “She said she wanted to shoot all these styles of dance and then be the individualist dork[...] She's very clear about what she likes and doesn't like, and isn't afraid to communicate it. She wanted to make sure that the message of the video came through clearly. This notion that not fitting in is more than okay". Swift has yet to publicly respond to critics of the video, but Romanek asserts: "It's a satirical piece. It's playing with a whole range of music video tropes and cliches and stereotypes.”
Oh, right. Satire. The video's interpretation of black cultural signifiers may have been intended as a "celebratory homage", but that's not the message that comes across. Unfortunately, Romanek doesn't seem to understand what the big deal is with reductive stereotyping an entire culture and urges Earl Sweatshirt to be "open-minded".
Image: Kelley Locke/Buzzfeed