Entertainment

Coldplay accused of cultural appropriation in new video for Hymn For The Weekend

Filming the music video for their song 'Hymn For The Weekend' in India with an intention to honour its vibrant and mystical hues, Coldplay and Beyonce have sparked debate on social media, with people saying the video is a 'stereotypical' portrayal of the country.

The latest single from the band's seventh album 'A Head Full of Dreams' was directed by Ben Mor, trying to capture India for a Western audience.

Beyonce in Coldplay's 'Hymn For The Weekend' music video
Beyonce in Coldplay's 'Hymn For The Weekend' music video Photo: Supplied

The video embodied many Indian stereotypes including frontman Chris Martin covered in colour during the Indian festival Holi, fire breathing and brightly dressed puppeteers.

A collaborative effort from the band and Beyonce, the video involves the pop singer portraying a Bollywood actress with a poster of her film 'Rani' on the billboards. She has henna covering her hands and is wearing traditional Desi clothing.

While there are many fans who have applauded the band for showcasing the many colours of India in an elaborate way, there are some who have slammed the video for cultural appropriation.

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Cultural appropriation, particularly of Desi traditions has become increasingly prominent in the media, with several artists being accused of such - including Iggy Azalea for her video 'Bounce' and Selena Gomez for 'Come and Get it'.

The video also briefly featured a cameo from actual Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor, with people questioning as to why Kapoor wasn't chosen for Beyonce's role instead.

The video's mixed reviews on social media has sparked intense conversation on the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation.

Nishita Jha wrote a piece for The Wire, explaining what it is about the video that may be making Indians uncomfortable with the portrayal in the music video:

"Chris Martin, who performs on a street corner while covered in Holi colours, and sticks his head out of taxis to gaze at a diwali-lit sky, never actually attempts to appear Indian in the video. He does, however, behave like a classic white-dude backpacker in that he only notices saffron flags and bearded holy men (can't believe no one told him that we're secular). Finally, since information about the video's shoot locations and contents have been doing the rounds since September last year, it can hardly be argued no one knew what Coldplay was doing."

On the other hand, there are many Indian fans who have praised the band for portraying the carefree feelings the country has.