So I watched this music video, and this is in fact completely untrue. There are many scenes in which black/brown girls are casted.
One could conceivably argue that any white star who features twerking in a music video is automatically being exploitative.
However, that was not my perception of this video in particular. It actually appeared to me the director took pains to portray a variety of dance styles (ballet, interpretive dance, rhythmic gymnastics, break dancing, twerking, cheerleading, etc.) all as equally valid art forms. Every performing group in the video includes a variety of ethnicities. I think I did actually see a black/brown dancer in the ballet troupe, though it’s difficult to tell. Look in the rear left of this gif:
We don’t know if they cast individual dancers or hired a dance troupe, so if black women are underrepresented that might say more about the dance troupe’s selection practices than the video director’s casting practices.
All the styles of dance, ballet or otherwise are presented in the same fashion — talented professionals being brilliant + Taylor Swift being endearingly incompetent. The black women in the video aren’t portrayed as Taylor’s dancing accessories, but rather as experts in their style:
Moreover, at the end of the video there’s a sequence showing all the different professionals being silly and dancing in a non-choreographed manner, thereby humanizing them, showing they exist outside of their role as dancers in Taylor’s video:
I think if we interpret the twerking scenes in this video as demeaning, that says more about our cultural perception of black women than it does about this particular video’s specific portrayal of black women.
think about the concept of a library. that’s one thing that humanity didn’t fuck up. we did a good thing when we made libraries
They call each other E. Elvis picks
wildflowers near the river and brings
them to Emily. She explains half-rhymes to him.
In heaven Emily wears her hair long, sports
Levis and western blouses with rhinestones.
Elvis is lean again, wears baggy trousers
and T-shirts, a letterman’s jacket from Tupelo High.
They take long walks and often hold hands.
She prefers they remain just friends. Forever.
Emily’s poems now contain naugahyde, Cadillacs,
Electricity, jets, TV, Little Richard and Richard
Nixon. The rock-a-billy rhythm makes her smile.
Elvis likes himself with style. This afternoon
he will play guitar and sing “I Taste a Liquor
Never Brewed” to the tune of “Love Me Tender.”
Emily will clap and harmonize. Alone
in their cabins later, they’ll listen to the river
and nap. They will not think of Amherst
or Las Vegas. They know why God made them
roommates. It’s because America
was their hometown. It’s because
God is a thing
without feathers. It’s because
God wears blue suede shoes.
With All Due Respect
Emily Dickinson fell in love with women
And Elvis got his licks from Black folk.
Respectfully, if there is a God
(and only one God)
The fuck would It need shoes for?
If there is a Heaven, undoubtedly Emily is one of its queens
With Kate, or maybe Sue.
She is not sexless; she has desires
And now there is more than poetry she can do with them.
When she does receive company
She probably hangs out with Gertrude Stein
Sits out on the porch with Alice B. Toklas
And Sylvia Rivera.
In any idea of Heaven I care for
The music is played by anyone who loves it
But crowds flock to the people who made it
Not to the people who marketed it best
The acceptable white face (if not hips) of blues.
By the end I imagine Elvis probably just wanted to be left alone for a while anyway.
Someday he will emerge, and maybe he won’t be thin and young
Maybe he’ll still be fat and wearing that godawful jumpsuit
Because he liked jumpsuits
And nobody will care.
Because if a God is running around like some kind of heavenly bookings agent
Finding people cabins and shit to live in
If It exists
I prefer Heaven not be exclusively populated
By de-sexed bisexuals, white bluesmen,
And a God who has to wear shoes to get around.
And maybe someday their hometown will be as safe
For fat dudes in rhinestones,
Maybe even people who don’t believe in God
But not without a little more breadth of imagination
When it comes to picturing Heaven.
this is my only hypothesis
cinematic gold in 1993 and still cinematic gold in 2014
I don’t throw the term genius around loosely, but..