On Monday, Odd Future rapper Earl Sweatshirt took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the latest video from Taylor Swift, calling it “inherently offensive.” The song “Shake It Off,” takes a more pop route than previous work from Swift and the resulting video—directed by Mark Romanek—showcases a number of dance variations from ballet to twerking. The contention with the video stemmed from the race of the dancers and the claim that they were perpetuating black stereotypes—most of those doing ballet were white and most of those twerking were black.
Today, Romanek has responded to Sweatshirt’s reaction in an interview with Vulture. Read the excerpt below.
I’m a fan of his and I think he’s a really interesting artist. (I posted a Vine to one of his tracks once.) But he stated clearly that he hadn’t seen the video and didn’t even intend to watch it. So, respectfully, that sort of invalidates his observations from the get-go. And it’s this one uninformed tweet that got reported on and rehashed, which started this whole “controversy.” 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. 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.
I find the structure of it quite moving actually. Because after all this goofy, stylized clowning around, the appearance of these real kids just being themselves is tremendously affecting to me. 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.