I'm just a badass adorable mother fucking cupcake.
My lovely Waters I am not ignoring you! My phone is getting texts but refuses to send them… :/
And it might not be getting some if anyone has been trying to reach me recently and I’ve ignored you. Except for you Jim.
I don’t know if my parents haven’t seen in or are trying not to mention it.
I can’t tell if they want to be my parents anymore.
Lots of questions in my ask about my stance on the Taylor Swift Shake it Off music video. Here are my main thoughts right now:
1. The physical positioning of Taylor in the foreground with faceless black dancers away from the camera in the background. Later there is a clip of them laughing and turning around — I think it would have made a big difference to have the twerking dancers introduced with this clip rather than the one they chose.
2. Putting on the “costume” of black culture without the associated experience of what it means to be black. In fact, treating it like a costume. She has the luxury to remove that costume. Music video here is actually symbolic of that - she flits between scenes - and could be read as commentary/parody of white pop stars who attempt ownership over elements of black culture.
3. This comes on the back of a particularly big year for music videos in which black women’s bodies are used as props — Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Lily Allen’s ineffective attempt at satire. Is this in response to it or playing into it? Can someone effectively respond to racially charged tropes in music videos if they are a. in the position of power b. in a position where they risk perpetuating those tropes. Also, is the visual medium inherently sexist (male gaze etc.?) and inherently biased against dark skin? If so, we must work doubly hard to counter these things.
4. Basically, mostly, is the fact that she is unable to master these dances to the same level as the professionals an empowering idea, effective parody, or a 21st century form of mimicry/exhibition of power? Or other?
Just some thoughts! Would love to hear your responses.
I am not saying that Taylor Swift is racist, I am not saying that whoever produced the video was racist, I am coming from the perspective of someone interested in the coding behind the ways we talk about ourselves and each other. To clarify, I love Taylor Swift. I was second row at her RED concert this year. This isn’t a question of loving/not loving Swifty.
here is a question mark: ?
Thanks for this, Rosi, because I’ve been thinking about it too.
disclaimer: I am a white person who is not an expert in racial politics. These are my thoughts & reactions from my current understanding of the issues around cultural appropriation, but I am totally open to hear from those who are actually people of colour or have studied this more.
I think basically that whether Taylor is trying to parody artists who are culturally appropriative (i.e. parodying other white pop stars like Miley, Katy, Lily) or just trying to make fun of herself being bad at twerking, the situation can’t be looked at in the same way as her failing to do, like, ballet. Twerking isn’t just a dance and it can’t be isolated from its cultural context. The clothes she wears in the twerking scene aren’t just a costume, they’re part of a culture (and a cultural trope) that I don’t think is hers to play with. By trying to take it on, Taylor still ends up being culturally appropriative, and perpetuating the same power thing that the other videos have done.
(it reminds me of a line/tumblr post I can’t totally remember, but something like as a white person, you can’t challenge racism by using racist slurs. you can’t parody cultural appropriation by appropriating, by doing exactly the same thing as everyone else but trying to let on that you’re more aware.)
And, like, the shot of Taylor looking up at the dancer from between the woman’s legs that has somehow become the thumbnail for the video EVERYWHERE is so so terrible. Nowhere else in the video does Taylor examine or confront someone’s body like that; it objectifies and removes the agency from the dancer, and for her torso & face to not even be on screen just makes it worse.
I’ve been really disappointed with this aspect of the video, but I guess what it’s helping me understand is the scope of how black women are treated in the media, how systemic it is to the point that not even a Taylor Swift video can escape it.