Opinion: Pop song perpetuates racial stereotypes

Neville Hardman

Neville Hardman

Taylor Swift continues a cheap streak of writing songs about others, but this time it’s directed at a larger audience. 

Her new single and music video, “Shake It Off,” launched on Aug. 18 — but it’s collecting more criticism than love.

Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt issued his dislike on Twitter about her new drop by stating that it was “inherently offensive and ultimately harmful.” His tweet, posted on the same day as the release, kick-started the whole controversy. 

Filled with different crowds, such as contemporary dance, cheerleaders and hip-hop figures, Swift plays the girl that can’t fit in and strikes out. The source of the actual problem is that this piece seems to perpetuate racial stereotypes. The ballerinas, who are mostly white women, are objects of clean routines and purity. When women of color are showcased, their dancing is casted as provocative and dirty.

Swift also crawls through a line of excessive twerking, wearing bling that looks like it might have been stolen from a 1990s rap star.

For an artist who’s been at this game for a while, this is weak. While she’s embracing an attitude that shows she doesn’t care about what people think — and encouraging her fans to do the same — this is also a song about vendetta. It’s a positive matched with a negative, and the line between the two is thin. 

This is not a high point for Swift. Not solely because her video featured a famous Miley move or that she danced on the line of cultural appropriation, but because she is immature. She wasn’t mature enough to notice that her video featured distinct groups of black and whites, and she was purely ignorant to the assumed stereotypes of different cultures.

A question that begs to be asked is this: Is Taylor Swift racist?  No, probably not, but someone higher up should have warned her that posting a video like this is distasteful and lazy.

Contact Neville Hardman at [email protected].