Taylor Swift’s ‘Wildest Dreams’ video director denies criticism of racial overtones

The clip has been criticised for 'embodying the political exploitation' of Africa

The director behind Taylor Swift‘s latest video has responded to accusations that the clip depicts an “African colonial fantasy”.

The ‘Wildest Dreams’ video was filmed by Joseph Khan in an undisclosed African location and features an entirely white cast.

The clip was released over the weekend (August 30) and is heavy on romantically-tinged scenes, featuring a hefty backdrop of wild animals and Swift starring in a passionate romance.

A number of media outlets have commented on perceived racial undertones of the video, highlighting supposed parallels with exploitation of colonial-era Africa in particular.

Now, Khan has responded to criticism in a public statement, saying that there’s “no political agenda” to the clip and that it’s “not a video about colonialism but a love story on the set of a period film crew in Africa, 1950”.


Khan writes, “‘Wildest Dreams’ is a song about a relationship that was doomed, and the music video concept was that they were having a love affair on location away from their normal lives. This is not a video about colonialism but a love story on the set of a period film crew in Africa, 1950.”

“There are black Africans in the video in a number of shots, but I rarely cut to crew faces outside of the director as the vast majority of screentime is Taylor and Scott.”

“The video is based on classic Hollywood romances like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, as well as classic movies like The African Queen, Out of Africa and The English Patient, to name a few.”

“The reality is not only were there people of color in the video, but the key creatives who worked on this video are people of color. I am Asian American, the producer Jil Hardin is an African American woman, and the editor Chancler Haynes is an African American man. We cast and edited this video. We collectively decided it would have been historicially inaccurate to load the crew with more black actors as the video would have been accused of rewriting history. This video is set in the past by a crew set in the present and we are all proud of our work.”

“There is no political agenda in the video. Our only goal was to tell a tragic love story in classic Hollywood iconography. Furthermore, this video has been singled out, yet there have been many music videos depicting Africa. These videos have traditionally not been lessons in African history. Let’s not forget, Taylor has chosen to donate all of her proceeds from this video to the African Parks Foundation to preserve the endangered animals of the continent and support the economies of local African people.”

Watch the ‘Wildest Dreams’ video below.

‘Wildest Dreams’ is the fifth single from Swift’s fifth studio album ‘1989’, which has already sold well in excess of eight million copies worldwide.