Taylor Swift's video "Shake It Off" offended Earl Sweatshirt to the point that he didn't even watch it. But what if you did watch it? What horrors would the video reveal? What awful stereotypes did Swifty enforce here?
The truth is that she doesn't. Swift doesn't use offensive language. She doesn't show any fear of black people. In every instance, in every dance scene, she actually shows black people besting her in just about everything she tries to do. There are black people in her band, touching her, playing music in her band - on her payroll, and as her fans. Earl Sweatshirt's angry tweets appear uninformed. He didn't watch the video.
The best way of showing that one can't dance or doesn't fit in a music video is visually. And Swift does just that. She's the klutzy Carol Burnett who just can't get it right, which is where the humor lies. She just isn't good at any of it and she doesn't fit in. She can't do ballet, or rhythm gymnastics, or even modern dance, and she certainly can't twerk. She can't break dance. Through it all, her facial expressions indicate she knows she looks ridiculous.
So, to say she's stereotyping really isn't a fair assessment of this video. She has a light-skinned black ballerina, a black rhythm gymnast, several black cheerleaders, black modern dancers, black fans, and girls who look both black and white twerking. If anything, the video shows very talented black people in a variety of situations as perfectly normal, rather than stereotypical. But, "haters gonna hate."
The video's director, Mark Romanek, defended the video to Vulture. “We simply chose 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 of ethnicity.” He continued, “If you look at it carefully, it’s a massively inclusive piece. It’s very, very innocent and positively intentioned.”
How would this video compare to images of black women in videos fronted by black men? They fare far better here. If you don't believe what's in the video, please take a look at it for yourself, and check out the photos which show images of black people taken from the video.
Yes, that's Taylor Swift knowing she doesn't fit in here with a boom box on her shoulder. She later jumps over it. She can't break dance. And she knows it.
No, Taylor Swift can't swing modern dance, but at least 3 very talented black people in the ensemble can. They are all shown in closeups doing their thing with aplomb.
She isn't so swift with the pointe shoes, either. Do my eyes deceive me, or is there a light skinned lady of black heritage to Swift's right? There are rather few black people in classical ballet, comparatively speaking, though this is changing, albeit very slowly.
Black rhythm gymnast
Here is a beautiful girl doing her beautiful rhythm gymnastics thing in Swifty's video. As for Taylor, she doesn't look so swift trying it out. She definitely needs lessons.
She makes it look so easy
And Taylor Swift looks terrible compared to the beauty in slow motion that is this girl doing rhythm gymnastics. She'll have to shake it off, and she will. Where is the stereotype? It seems like a very talented girl strutting her stuff, possibly busting stereotypes about what sports black people enjoy.
Swift Fingers Taylor
Even her fingers aren't that swift here, and she's clearly very easily shown up. Her fingers can't dance. Pnut makes finger tutting look easy. At least, this looks like Pnut. Meanwhile, Swift wears glasses that make her look like Skrillex's sister. If one takes a look at another Youtube video which includes Pnut, there are people of varied backgrounds finger tutting.
Swift's fingers finally fly.
Instead of making her fingers work fast, she turns them into a bird. It's the best she can do. Meanwhile, Pnut probably wanted to laugh at how bad she was. This occurred in two episodes on the video, and it just adds to the idea of her being an uncoordinated klutz.
Ancient disco moves.
Taylor can't pop or lock, but they can in her background, which includes only one obviously black male. She will stick to disco. What is that move called - The Saturday Night Fever? This is actually a very light version of popping and locking until the guys get some opportunities to solo and freestyle, strutting their awesome stuff. No stereotypes here.
Her moves are still off
She still can't get it. It's really, really obvious that she needs to find something else to do because she can't get this either.
Anyone can be a Taylor Swift's band, you just have to play well enough to keep up. Keeping up is something poor Swifty clearly can't manage while dancing.
She can't twerk.
Taylor Swift wouldn't make it as anyone's ratchet girl. And it's obvious that the ladies at the back are not exclusively black. Not all black women can twerk or even want to, just to inform the uninitiated. And Swift clearly can't.
Still not getting it
No matter how closely she observes, she obviously not going to get this. She ought to give up. But instead, she will shake it off and keep trying to find a place to belong, or a dance she can actually do.
She knows she's never going to get it. It's really, really obvious she's never going to get it. She actually looks frustrated for a second before she starts laughing. She knows she will never make it as a ratchet girl.
Yes, there are black cheerleaders
It's not hard to find black cheerleaders, and Swift cast them in her video. She also drops her pom poms and can't get this right either.
She's no cheerleader.
Some have speculated that Swift was calling out her old song "You Belong With Me" where she sings about the other girl, "She's cheer captain/I'm in the bleachers." Now Swift is the cheer captain of her own team with the TS on her chest. She clearly doesn't mind having 3 black guys on the squad. It's hard enough to find any guy cheerleaders at all.
But, she still drops her pom poms because she can't keep up.
Swift's back up singers
Most of her backup singers here are black, she could hire white girls instead, but she didn't. I'm not sure if this is a stereotype, but it doesn't seem like one.
She has fans of all races.
Anyone dancing like this clearly applied to be in the video via application through Swift's tweets and website. This means that they were following what she posted and are her fans. And here it's obvious that she belongs - with her fans, making up her own steps rather than trying to be something or someone she isn't.
A fan close up
Where is the stereotype here? This is one of Swift's fans who was selected to appear in the video and is having a great time of it waving her hands in the air like she just doesn't care.
Another fan closeup
Another of Swift's fans. There doesn't seem to be a stereotype here either. He's very clearly having a great time and he got to meet Taylor Swift as a bonus.