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Is Taylor Swift's new 'Shake It Off' music video racist?


Is Taylor Swift's new 'Shake It Off' music video racist?

By Julianne Cassidy. CREATED Aug 20, 2014

Is Taylor Swift's first pop music video racist? A fair number of online viewers and a handful of media outlets believe so and are voicing their strong opinions on the issue. But as Taylor sings in the song's lyrics, "haters gonna hate."

Objections to the video seem to center around wardrobe and casting choices. In sections of the clip, Taylor appears in two different costumes more closely associated with hip hop dancers of an earlier decade. Additionally, a group of ballerinas includes only white dancers, while in the hip hop segments Taylor is mostly surrounded by dancers of color. 

Click above to watch "Shake It Off," the first single from Taylor's debut pop album, "1989" in stores on Oct. 27. says Taylor “is participating in racial cross-dressing, blanketed in gold chains and sporting a tight updo, a white woman dressed as a caricature of a black woman, leading a team of black backup dancers. The image is jarring, and is hard not to wonder if this is what Taylor Swift thinks it means to ‘be black,’ and if so, how troubling that is.” describes the music video as "cringe-worthy."

More pointedly, Jezebel writes, "Taylor’s wearing cut off jean shorts, an animal print jacket, big gold hoops and jewelry that harken people of color and a CeCe Peniston curly-cue. But this isn’t cultural appropriation right? Maybe objectification is a better word. Because she’s 'America’s Sweetheart' who knows that dressing up in the cultural cues of another ethnic group isn’t cool, right? But paying dancers to twerk so she can gawk at their bodies ... while literally crawling underneath a London Bridge [of] rotating bums is fine?"

While Taylor has not yet addressed the racism charges, in a recent interview on "Good Morning America" she said, "We live in a take-down culture. People will find anything about you and twist it to where it's weird, or wrong, or annoying, or strange, or bad."

So, you be the judge. Is Taylor's portrayal of different dance cultures racist? Comment below.

Julianne Cassidy

Julianne Cassidy

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A city girl gone country, Philadelphia-bred journalist Julianne Cassidy relocated to be a Nashville-based digital editor for Scripps Media, Inc.