Debate: Cultural Appropriation or Not?


We have all watched Coldplay ft. Beyoncé’s new video ‘Hymn for the Weekend.’ This video has made lots of people angry, especially Indians and people with Indian descents. This video has created some problems around the area of cultural appropriations by representing the Desi Culture. Beyonce is shown “dressed in a traditional Indian Desi outfit, acting as a Bollywood dancer.” They feel that Beyonce does not deserve to be treated differently only because she is Beyonce. It is not correct for her and Coldplay to use their rituals and beliefs for marketing purposes. In other words, it is not right for them to use their cultural beliefs to use in their video at all!

But there are controversial issues because other Indians do not think there is anything wrong with the video. They think that their country is beautiful and that Coldplay and Beyoncé are just showing the beauty of their country! In my opinion I do not believe they are disrespecting their culture if anything I think they are embracing and showing the rest of the world how beautiful India can be. I personally do not know much about India but by watching this video I see lots of beautiful imagery of their homeland. The only thing that I did not think was appropriate was Beyoncé doing the hand gestures and wearing the traditional clothing on her head because if she does not belief in their rituals than she simply should not wear it.

The hand gestures were not appropriate, my friend Shruti is Indian and she found Beyoncé doing these gestures not okay! The hand gestures that Beyoncé was doing in the video have strong meanings and beliefs. If you do not believe in their rituals than you should not be doing the gestures only for the nation to see. Something that I thought was interesting about the interview I had with Shruti was that she was not upset with Coldplay. She says that Coldplay actually knows their culture and has donated a lot to the people of India but is upset just at Beyoncé for acting as if she knew their culture on camera. For example, the art that Beyoncé is using in the picture below is Henna tattoo which is used in India as a celebratory decoration important celebrations and special events. But Beyoncé is not using it correctly according to their standards. 



2 thoughts on “Debate: Cultural Appropriation or Not?”

  1. I was very pleased to see that someone finally brought up this issue. I think that many people can overthink what is respectful and disrespectful in certain aspects of race or ethnicity. There is definitely a very fine line that can be easily crossed depending on the person you are speaking to. I do agree that Beyonce was more celebrating India’s beauty than disgracing it. The way that Coldplay and Beyonce filmed this and created the music really encompasses the beauty that India can exhibit. One part of your post that made me a bit uneasy was the fact that you mentioned the Henna tattoo and Beyonce’s hand movements. I do not know much about Indian culture, so I am not sure what Beyonce’s hand gestures actually mean, but I don’t think she really did either. Many artists can look at something as more of a dance move. Now i understand that within the context of this video it is very obvious that she is using those gestures because she saw them in Indian culture, but I think it is more of just a stylistic approach and less of an attempt to represent Indian culture. As for Henna tattoos, I know that many other people use them for many other reasons other than representing Indian culture. I have seen them being sold in boxes and have seen many people use them and create designs with Henna just for fun. Now, I don’t think Beyonce was doing this just for fun, but I think she was using the Henna tattoo as a matter of style as well as showing the beauty that India can create. I may just be pro Beyonce 24/7 and a lot of this respect vs. disrespect can be incredibly subjective but I do think that what you had to say was very meaningful and honest and I appreciate that you took the time to write about this. It has bothered me ever since we watched the video in class and I wish I wrote about it myself!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I thought it was a very important point to bring up, and I am glad you agree with me. I personally do not think there is anything wrong with the music video to be quite honest! I love the song I just think Beyonce should not do the hand gestures if she is not sure of what they mean because to their culture it may seem disrespectful.


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