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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Shake It Off": Earl Sweatshirt is Far More Guilty of Perpetuating Stereotypes Than Taylor Swift Is

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 6:15 PM

click image swift_twerk.jpg

And this week, in deluded-hypocritical-asshole news, Earl Sweatshirt has declared that Taylor Swift's latest video is "inherently offensive and ultimately harmful" because it is "perpetuating stereotypes." Truthfully, until Sweatshirt posted his little outburst on Twitter on Monday, we had no idea just how sensitive a fellow he could be.

You see, listening to him using the word "faggot" repeatedly over the years without concern about whether that was "inherently offensive and ultimately harmful" to a particular group just gave us the impression that Sweatshirt had no concern for his fellow man. He certainly has none for his fellow woman. If you have a strong enough stomach, we suggest checking out the lyrics to "Drop" in all of their violent, unbridled misogyny, in case you need proof of Sweatshirt's own propensity for "perpetuating stereotypes" — in this case, the ones about how females are merely sex objects to be used, physically abused, insulted, and discarded.

For the sake of balance, here's exactly what Earl Sweatshirt posted on Twitter about Taylor Swift's video for "Shake It Off":

"haven't watched the taylor swift video and I don't need to watch it to tell you that it's inherently offensive and ultimately harmful... perpetuating black stereotypes to the same demographic of white girls who hide their prejudice by proclaiming their love of the culture... for instance, those of you who are afraid of black people but love that in 2014 it's ok for you to be trill or twerk or say nigga"

First tip to Mr. Sweatshirt: Maybe watch a fucking video before you get all up in arms about it. If you had directed these comments at Miley Cyrus after the video for "Can't Stop" came out, it would at least make a some sense — because there was actual, real, crazy-misguided cultural appropriation in that thing. "Shake It Off" on the other hand is, in reality, completely fucking harmless. Observe:



This video, very transparently, isn't about black or white culture. The message of the video is obvious to anyone over the age of 7 with half a brain: you don't have to fit in to have fun. That's it. All Swift is saying here is that it doesn't matter if you're not down with the cool kids — no matter what sub-section of cool they are — because real joy in life is about dancing like nobody's watching and not letting anything get you down. Swift playfully demonstrates this by not fitting in with any group in the video: not the ballerinas, or the cheerleaders, or the break-dancers, or the gymnasts, or the arty contemporary dancers, or — oh, there they are — the twerkers. Astoundingly simple to follow.

In an additional twist, Sweatshirt's notion that Swift is "perpetuating black stereotypes" is completely absurd, thanks to the fact that — watch the video, Earl! — not only are the twerkers both African-American and Caucasian, there are black people throughout this video, performing in a variety of capacities that do not relegate them to stereotypes. If anything, you can tell that whoever directed this went out of their way to include a variety of skin tones in almost every scene. (Given that line in "Drop" where Sweatshirt raps: "A black and white bitch, mixed like she moo and chew grass or somethin'," he could potentially learn something from this.)

Aside from anything else, everyone and their parents know that, if there is a bonafide dance craze in 2014, it's twerking. Miley was the one that catapulted it into the mainstream months ago, and it's been adopted and used by pretty much every other area of media (from sitcoms to YouTube skits) since — just as elements of every other subculture on Earth get co-opted by the mainstream at some point. To tell one of the biggest artists of the moment that she can't feature one of the most popular dances of the year in her video for 20 seconds is, frankly, bizarre. Swift didn't start this trend, she won't be the one that finishes it, and Sweatshirt's objections are simply months too late at this point, because white girls started twerking when Miley did. 

If Earl Sweatshirt is concerned about the perpetuation of black stereotypes in music, he might want to look a little closer to his own genre. Those "white girls" he's so concerned about aren't learning negative black stereotypes from a few dancing girls in a Taylor Swift video, they're learning it from the narrow field of rappers within the genre who repeatedly present themselves as violent, sexist, nihilistic. and money-obsessed. Maybe Sweatshirt should look at some of his own lyrics and see if he might be contributing to that problem.
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