Beyonce Guilty of Cultural Appropriation?

For those who haven’t seen Coldplay’s new video, “Hymn For the Weekend” featuring the one and only Beyonce, go watch it here.

The video was first brought to my attention through a post I saw on Facebook about Beyonce being accused of Cultural Appropriation. Obviously I was intrigued, and I decided to watch the video myself and judge whether or not I, as a person of Indian origin, would consider the video offensive.

Growing up in America, I have always felt that there was a lack of a positive portrayal of India or Indian people on TV and in the music industry. Looking at Raj from The Big Bang Theory, yeah, I mean, he’s funny I guess, but he isn’t exactly what one would call a role model or a positive figure for Indian kids growing up in America. The only show that I actually really enjoyed (and many non Indian kids also enjoyed) was a show called outsourced that came out when I was in middle school. It was really funny, and the white guy ends up falling in love with the Indian girl, which made me feel a lot less insecure about the color of my skin. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled after one year.

I think Coldplay’s video was actually pretty nice. Compared to Iggy Azalea’s “Bounce“, which showed a very Bollywood-esque narrow view of India, I think the inclusion of children playing Holi was really fun and a great way to show off an Indian festival that many people probably don’t know much about. The peacocks, the throwing of the magic petals, and the overall mysticism was a bit over done, but its not like it was anything negative so I don’t have too much a problem with it.

However, there were two aspects of the video that I did have a bit of a problem with.

First,  when I saw on a comment that Sonam Kapoor would make an appearance in the video, I was so happy! She is so beautiful and definitely represents India in a positive light. Then I realized that she was in the video for literally three seconds. Come on Coldplay! If you are going to get one of the most famous actresses in India to cameo in your video, giving her only three seconds seems a bit insulting. That would be if I got Beyonce to cameo in a video that I made about America, but I only gave her three seconds. They wasted a really good opportunity!

Second, I’m not super mad about this one, but I feel like it was again, a wasted opportunity. I was reading through the comments on the video, and many people were saying that they didn’t think Beyonce was relevant in the video, or she looked horrible. In no way would I ever say that the Queen B looked horrible, but I wish they put her in more realistic Indian clothes. Those clothes that she was wearing were quite fabulous indeed, but more “Indian inspired…ish” than actual Indian clothes. I just felt if she was going to go ahead and be in a video that is all about India, she could have worn a sari or her hair in a braid with a tikka. She would have looked beautiful, and it would have been a lot less confusing.

All in all, I think that a lot of Indian people actually really liked the video. Obviously I wish that Coldplay used their opportunity to showcase Indian culture a little better, but reading the comments on the video, many non Indian people were saying how interesting and beautiful India and Indian culture is, and that is definitely a success.



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