Coldplay’s new music video “Hymn for the Weekend”, featuring Beyonce, was released on Friday and has already gained over 15 million views, yet run into controversy for its stereotyping of Indian culture.
The video portrays band frontman Chris Martin as performing the role of a foreign traveler, taking a ride around Mumbai in the yellow-black taxi with colorful interior and observing through its open window the slumdog shabby buildings and ancient temples, the peacocks, the levitating sadhus (holy men) and a child dressed as a blue deity. Meanwhile, the band plays on the street during a Holi festival (the religious festival of colors in India). Beyonce dressed up in traditional Indian attire and with her hands covered in henna tattoo, is portrayed in the video as a Bollywood Queen (so-called Rani). The clip also features a real Bollywood actress, Sonam Kapoor, who hardly got a few seconds of screen time. Wonder what the reason for that was…
While watching this video your very first thought would be – beautiful! Everything in this music video shouts India. But what kind of India? Let’s find out some of the reasons why Coldplay and especially Beyonce have faced immence blacklash on the internet.
Beyonce's video is a problem because it's reductive, and uses India as a prop for capitalist gain. A land and culture she has no right to.
— rachana j (@chanaaaj) January 29, 2016
When Beyoncé gets in trouble for cultural appropriation…nobody is safe. Beyoncé never gets in trouble for anything!
— RAVEN ELYSE (@RavenElyseTV) January 29, 2016
can we talk about cultural appropriation?? or does she get a pass cuz she's "beyonce" ? https://t.co/S0eK0pvH3a
— blxk (@willfinty) January 29, 2016
i dont even know what to say about this coldplay video except can white rock bands please stop filming holi videos in india, thank you.
— ahmed ali akbar (@radbrowndads) January 29, 2016
— Atiya Hasan, MD (@AtiyaHasan05) January 29, 2016
Coldplay's new video is basically what India looks like to white people
— Kanksha Raina (@SpoiledHobo) January 29, 2016
— Amena (@Fashionopolis) January 29, 2016
Of course, India is more than the video’s components and clichés, but it’s shown in a glorified way in the video. Yes, it’s more like a quick look at India through the eyes of a tourist than having the viewer get a real picture of the country, which is maybe better to leave to MIA. But the way it’s presented is beautiful and makes us get to know more about this exotic and mysterious place, and its people, who are so vibrantly rich in spirit. After all, “Hymn for the Weekend” is nothing but art, for art’s sake!