Taylor Swift, the girl so many seem to love to hate, has come out with a new song explaining that she just shakes it off. Good for her. The video shows all sorts of shaking, twerking, hopping, pop locking, street dancing, ballet dancing and modern dance. But because Taylor actually raps a bit, just like Blondie did in "Rapture" back in 1981, and does her best B-girl impression complete with a row of backup twerkers, who are african american, the twitter echo-chamber of outrage was outraged. It's reminiscent of last years hubub over the dancers in Lily Allen's - Hard out here, which mocked sexist stereotypes in music industry with a row of dancers soaking each other in champagne and licking Beats pill speakers, which commentators said was racist. This style of dancing, with a white woman in the front, is simply perpetuating black stereotypes and appropriating hip-hop culture as a backdrop for a little "edge", goes the argument.
— mark romanek (@markromanek) August 21, 2014
Mark Romanek comments on the controversy in Vulture:
When Taylor is in her B-girl outfit, with all the girls twerking around her, it seems like you’re playing around with the notion of how pervasive this imagery has become in pop music over the past few years. But what do you make of it when people like Earl Sweatshirt dispute your intent and claim that you’re simply perpetuating black stereotypes?
I'm a fan of his and I think he's a really interesting artist. (I posted a Vine to one of his tracks once.) But he 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." 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. It's playing with a whole range of music-video tropes and clichés and stereotypes.
In the end Taylor Swift is embracing her inner dork and adding physical comedy to the piece, rejecting the role of the perfectly poised pretty girl or sex kitten, while the dancers who surround her are all at the top of their genre and craft. Taylor really does simply shake it off, so of course twitter and blogs will get all upset about this video, because there is simply nothing worse than a woman who does what she wants and doesn't care what you think. We can't have that now, can we?