February 9, 2016

By Joy Cannon

This past week, Coldplay released a new music video for their song “Hymn for the Weekend” featuring Beyonce, and the debate seemed to ensue almost immediately. The topic was, once again, cultural appropriation… Or is it appreciation?
The video features Coldplay singer Chris Martin wandering the streets of India and sitting in a movie theatre, singing all the while. In the theatre, Beyonce is featured on the screen and dressed in traditional south Asian formal attire. You can watch the full video here to see exactly what it is that has started such a debate.
Twitter users seemed to be the most vocal on both sides of the debate. Some, like the users below, don’t see the problem with the video or Beyonce’s attire.

Still, other users were quick to put this video and Beyonce’s attire in the category of cultural appropriation. Others expressed that the hesitance to define Beyonce’s actions as such is hypocritical.

Personally, I don’t understand any hesitation to call this video exactly what it is – cultural appropriation. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Beyonce has been deemed the ideal woman by modern society, so many may think she can do no wrong. Others probably do not understand cultural appropriation can be done by anyone including POC. If Coldplay and Beyonce are profiting from this display of Asian culture, then it seems quite clear that something isn’t right. Perhaps it would be a different story if Coldplay, Beyonce, and those behind this video had made every effort to include people truly from that culture. I agree and can appreciate that the video is beautiful and may even attract some to learn more about this culture, but it doesn’t seem like Beyonce’s place to use their formal dress as a costume for the sake of creating this video.

But, my opinion on this really doesn’t matter. I am not a member of this culture, so I do not get to decide if the use of their culture is right or wrong. The bottom line is that if anyone of that culture finds offense in this video, then no one else, especially a member of another culture, gets to tell them that those feelings are invalid.