Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” Director Joseph Kahn Defends Music Video Amid Race Backlash

Taylor Swift and Joseph Kahn
Taylor Swift's "Wildest Dreams" director, Joseph Kahn, is defending the music video amid race backlash Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Shaking it off is so yesterday. Taylor Swift's "Wildest Dreams" director, Joseph Kahn, is reacting to the accusation that the music video is glamorizing a white colonial Africa head-on.

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"This is not a video about colonialism but a love story on the set of a period film crew in Africa, 1950," Kahn, 42, said in a statement, via NPR. "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."

Swift's latest music video premiered during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards pre-show on Sunday, Aug. 30, and stars Scott Eastwood as her leading man. Swift was ecstatic to share her new work, but some viewers didn't appreciate how the 1950's-era love story lacked African-American actors.

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"I didn't like the wildest dreams video, really not into rich white fantasies of Africa in the 1950s like…is that romantic?" one tweeter wrote. A second commented: "I question your pleasure principal if your 'Wildest Dreams' are to fall in love in colonial Africa by erasing black ppl from the continent."

In response, Kahn said that "not only were there people of color in the video," but it was diverse behind the camera as well. "I am Asian American, the producer, Jil Hardin, is an African American woman, and the editor, Chancler Haynes, is an African American man," he said. "We collectively decided it would have been historically inaccurate to load the crew with more black actors as the video would have been accused of rewriting history."

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He continued: "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." (The music video featured giraffes, elephants, lions, zebras, and horses.)

Kahn has previously worked on music videos with stars like Britney Spears, Eminem, Christina Aguilera, Destiny's Child, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga, Backstreet Boys, Mariah Carey, and Maroon 5. Swift has yet to respond to the fracas herself.

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