Taylor Swift’s Video Director Says He’s Trolling the Beyhive, But We’re Not Buying It

Music video director Joseph Kahn may be known for his “offbeat” humour, but does he *actually* think Beyoncé copied Taylor Swift?

Taylor Swift and Joseph Kahn attend the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

(Photo: Getty)

In case you haven’t been paying attention to Joseph Kahn’s Twitter feed, the director—who has worked on music videos with celebs like Imagine Dragons, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry—is still talking about Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do.”

A quick recap: When Swift released a teaser from the video late last month, some eagle-eyed fans saw more than a few suspicious similarities to Beyoncé’s video for “Formation” and reacted accordingly. (Read: memes. So many memes.) The video director waded into the debate to downplay any similarities.

But it didn’t end there. He doubled down and accused Swift’s detractors of being sexist.

Then, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times about his new movie, the Eminem-produced “rap battle satire” Bodied (which premiered at TIFF this week), Kahn went ALL IN. “It’s not ‘Formation’ at all,” he said. “They try to say she’s wearing a black crop top and Beyonce wore a black crop top. But they don’t realize in 2015 in ‘Bad Blood,’ Taylor Swift was wearing a black crop top. I really do think, by the way, that Beyoncé copied ‘Bad Blood.’”


Our personal thoughts about the alleged copying aside, this is a bold (and possibly dumb?) move, because, as we all know, the Beyhive doesn’t mess around. Not that Kahn seems to care.

Of course, Kahn’s explanation for his provocative statements is that he’s all about that offbeat humour, but is it just us, or does “I’m just trolling” feel like a bit of a cop-out?

“It as a joke” is just a little too convenient. It’s a well-trodden excuse in pop culture, and particularly in comedy, where it’s pulled out whenever a sexist, homophobic or racist joke doesn’t land.

This is relevant considering some of Kahn’s other “jokes,” including this one, which he tweeted after facing criticism about whitewashing in Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” video, which was set in a pseudo-colonial version of an unnamed African country.


Not to get too ~deep~ here, but using humour to explain away problematic statements doesn’t actually work. As Jason P. Steed, an English prof turned lawyer, explained in a Twitter essay last summer, “If you’re willing to accept ‘just joking’ as defense, you’re willing to enter in-group where idea conveyed by the joke is acceptable. [So,] if ‘just joking’ excuses racist jokes, then in-group has accepted idea of racism as part of being in-group.”

Sure, a pseudo-feud about who’s copying who isn’t that serious—but Kahn’s insistence on saying he doesn’t really mean the other problematic things he says is kind of gross.

That being said, we know the best way to handle this situation is by taking a page from Bey and JAY-Z’s book (“Who?”), but… we’re totally still making some popcorn and settling in for the Beyhive’s reaction.

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