WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- After the debut of her "Wildest Dreams" video at the MTV Video Music Awards, Taylor Swift is being criticized as romanticizing a colonized Africa.
In the video, Swift portrays a brunette actress shooting a film with Clint Eastwood's son, Scott, in the middle of an African desert.
Critics take issue with the setting and inferred time period and the absence of people of color on-screen.
The video's director, Joseph Khan, defended it on Wednesday as "a love story on the set of a period film crew in Africa,1950."
"There is no political agenda in the video. Our only goal was to tell a tragic love story in classic Hollywood iconography," Khan said in a statement emailed to UPI.
"There are black Africans in the video in a number of shots, but I rarely cut to crew faces outside of the director as the vast majority of screen time is Taylor and Scott," Khan said, adding that "key creatives who worked on this video are people of color. I am Asian American, the producer Jil Hardin is an African- American woman, and the editor Chancler Haynes is an African-American man."
The video has been harshly criticized in several pieces, including on NPR, in the Huffington Post and on the Daily Dot. NPR's article, "Taylor Swift is Dreaming of A Very White Africa," written by African-born writers Vivian Rutabingwa and James Kassaga Arinaitwe, has gone viral.
"For a clip that's set in Africa -- it's about as white as a Sunday morning farmer's market," writer Nico Lang wrote for Daily Dot. "The video wants to have its old-school Hollywood romance but ends up eating some old-school Hollywood racism, too."
Rutabingwa and Arinaitwe said in their piece:
"To those of us from the continent who had parents or grandparents who lived through colonialism (and it can be argued in some cases are still living through it), this nostalgia that privileged white people have for colonial Africa is awkwardly confusing to say the least and offensive to say the most. [...]
Swift's music is entertaining for many. She should absolutely be able to use any location as a backdrop. But she packages our continent as the backdrop for her romantic songs devoid of any African person or storyline, and she sets the video in a time when the people depicted by Swift and her co-stars killed, dehumanized and traumatized millions of Africans. That is beyond problematic."
"Wildest Dreams" premiered on Sunday during the VMAs after Swift won four top spots including Video of the Year for "Bad Blood."