Controversial claims have recently been made stating that Taylor Swift’s new music video for her song “Shake It Off” is racist and perpetuating African American stereotypes. Critics are saying that Swift's new video is ripe with cultural appropriation and that her "black girl costume" which is "gaudy" and torn demonstrates the racial stereotypes that exist in our country today. It is almost impossible to disagree with them, however, the song lyrics promote a much better message. Swift’s lyrics are challenging the latent ideology that what others think of you matters and telling the song’s audience to focus on the positives instead of the people tearing you down.
In the song, Swift lists some of the rude comments people make about her. She sings, “I stay up too late, got nothing in my brain, that’s what people say, but I keep cruising can’t stop won’t stop moving… haters gonna hate, I’m just gonna shake it off.” Swift isn’t paying attention to what the “haters” say, instead she’s “gonna shake it off” and just be herself. In a culture where people value others’ opinion of themselves so highly this is a refreshing view on what you could even go so far as to call bullying and how you should respond to it. Swift’s reaction to her “haters” is even more admirable due to the fact that many responses to haters are crude and mean in return. Swift also gives good reason not to be paying attention to what the bullies are saying when she sings, “Just think while you been getting down and out about the liars and the dirty dirty cheats of the world, you could have been getting down to this sick beat.” Swift is presenting the idea that it is okay to not care what people think of you and to embrace the parts of yourself that may not be socially acceptable.