Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" video is a fun romp that features the singer attempting -- and failing -- various styles of dance while looking adorkable and awkward. Yet the imagery in the video -- which includes scenes of black female hip-hop dancers twerking -- has been derided as "offensive" by one prominent rapper. Now, the video's director, Mark Romanek, is saying that nothing could be further from the truth.
The rapper, Earl Sweatshirt, tweeted the day the video premiered, "haven't watched the taylor swift video and I don't need to watch it to tell you that it's inherently offensive and ultimately harmful...perpetuating black stereotypes to the same demographic of white girls who hide their prejudice by proclaiming their love of the culture. For instance, those of you who are afraid of black people but love that in 2014 it's ok for you to be trill or twerk or say n***a."
Romanek, an acclaimed director who helmed such iconic videos as "Scream" by Michael and Janet Jackson, "Criminal" by Fiona Apple, and "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails, tells New York magazine that he's a fan of Earl Sweatshirt's. However, he says the rapper "stated clearly that he hadn't seen the video and didn't even intend to watch it. So, respectfully, that sort of invalidates his observations from the get-go. And it's this one uninformed tweet that got reported on and rehashed, which started this whole 'controversy.'"
Romanek explains that the concept of the video came from Taylor. "She said she wanted to shoot all these styles of dance and then be the individualist dork in the midst of these established genres," he says, adding. "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. If you look at it carefully, it's a massively inclusive piece."
"It's very, very innocently and positively intentioned. And -- let's remember -- it's a satirical piece," Romanek continued. "It's playing with a whole range of music-video tropes and clichés and stereotypes."
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