Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ Music Video Is “Utterly Color-Blind,” Says Director

By: Gabrielle Chung / August 21, 2014

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The man behind Taylor Swift‘s new “Shake It Off” music video is shaking off any claims that his latest work is racist.

Though critics, including Odd Future rapper Earl Sweatshirt, have called out the four-minute clip for cultural appropriation, director Mark Romanek insists that the so-called “inherently offensive and ultimately harmful” video isn’t that controversial at all.

“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,” Romanek explains to Vulture. “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.”

“This basic idea was all Taylor’s,” he says. “We met and she told me that she wanted to make a sort of paean to the awkward ones, the ‘uncool’ kids that are actually cooler than the ‘cool’ kids. She said she wanted to shoot all these styles of dance and then be the individualist dork in the midst of these established genres.”

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According to Romanek, who has also directed Jay Z‘s “Picasso Baby” and Johnny Cash‘s “Hurt,” the message is not about race, but rather “this goofy, stylized clowning around” of “real kids just being themselves.”

He continues, “In a way, the whole video is just a setup for that moment. And this is why, I think, if Earl Sweatshirt was open-minded enough to take the four minutes to watch it, he might see what the larger, humanistic, and utterly color-blind message was intended to be.”