And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #284: Taylor Swift v New Zealand

By | Published on Friday 27 November 2015

Taylor Swift

Hey everyone, I bet you thought that now Adele had returned for her latest shift as World’s Biggest Popstar, all talk of Taylor Swift was off the cards. Well, you’re wrong. Because Swift is still on a world tour. Of causing offence. One music video at a time.

When last we saw her, Taylor Swift was drawing accusations of racism with her “glamorous version of the white colonial fantasy of Africa” in the ‘Wildest Dreams’ video. Prior to that, she was accused of racism via cultural appropriation of African-American culture in the ‘Shake It Off’ video.

She’s learned her lesson though, and is now instead drawing fire for endangering rare birds on her latest video shoot.

Swift was in New Zealand to film the video for her next single on Bethells Beach in Auckland, stopping off there briefly before heading to Australia to begin the next leg of her ‘1989’ tour this Saturday.

The area is a nesting site for native bird the dottrel, and so requires special permission for any such activity. It’s fine though, the video production company got the correct permit in advance from Auckland Tourism, Events And Economic Development (Ateed, to its mates).

“Taylor Swift filming at Bethells this week”, confirmed Waitakere Ranges local board chairwoman Sandra Coney on Facebook. However, she continued: “Permission was given for I think two vehicles, instead there were about a dozen. Parks not happy at all”.

Oh dear. But how bad could it really be?

“We are trying to minimise vehicles on beaches for good reasons but at Bethells there are baby dotterels. We have developed a dotterel management plan as there is a heap of filming out there, and we welcome it as economic activity that should leave no footprint, but Taylor’s lot did not respect the environment or the conditions of their consent”.

Birds though, eh? You see loads of them flapping about all over the place. How rare are these ones? I bet there’s loads.

“The numbers aren’t large by any means”, Waitakere Ranges’ Neil Henderson told the New Zealand Herald. “People needed to stick to the rules. Once we lose the birds they don’t come back in a hurry. If one person gets away with that, then others think, ‘Why can’t we?'”

Swift herself was seemingly on the beach for the filming on Monday, though the production company making the video, Cherokee Films (let’s just let that one pass for now), insists that she and her team had nothing to do with any rule breaking.

“Taylor Swift and her management team were in no way at fault and did not do anything that violated permits or ordinances”, said the company.

“We had permission from the landowners and paid a fee for use of the land”, it continued. “At no time were the film crew close to that habitat. No dotterel were harmed. Cherokee Films has a long history of responsible film shoots across Auckland, including Bethells Beach, where we have filmed many times. Our shoots have always been with the guidance and support of the relevant local authority – most recently Screen Auckland And Parks – and landowners”.

Alright! What’s that saying about “protesting too much”? Though still refusing to accept any specific wrongdoing, the company nonetheless added: “In acknowledgement of the concern this has added to those in charge of protecting local dotterel population, Cherokee Films will make a donation to the breeding programme as we support your concerns. Cherokee Films is working with Screen Auckland to resolve this issue”.

But Screen Auckland’s Michael Brook confirmed to the New Zealand Herald that pictures of the shoot did show that more vehicles than permitted had been on the beach.

“It’s very rare that Screen Auckland receives complaints about a major breach of a permit”, he added, saying that filming in the area contributes NZ$130 million a year to the local economy.

Baby dottrels are described as looking like bumblebees with long legs. And I think we can all agree that that is a collection of words better than any amount of money. In fact, why is Taylor Swift’s music video not just a video of these birds, given she was getting so close to them anyway? I’ve seen popstars wandering along beaches before. Bumblebees with long legs, not so much.