About

This two-minute .Mic video addresses the issue of cultural appropriation vs. cultural appreciation through an analysis of Coldplay and Beyoncé’s 2016 “Hymn for the Weekend” music video. Natasha Noman, a .Mic reporter, describes conflicted reactions to the music video, which was shot in India and features the all White British band interacting with Indian people and traveling through the country witnessing and participating in various cultural ceremonies and rituals. By using clips from different parts of the music video, Noman analyzes what some have critiqued as cultural appropriation, and what others have argued is cultural appreciation. These clips include scenes of religious figures in traditional attire, as well as people celebrating in Indian formalwear, jewelry, and makeup tied to cultural and/or religious practices, and the band, Coldplay, playing their instruments covered in colorful paint thrown by Indian kids participating in the popular Holi festival. Beyoncé is featured in the video as a Bollywood movie star, dressed in a glamorous sari-like dress, dancing in an Indian style, and with Henna on her hands. The .Mic video uses these scenes as well as pop culture examples from Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and others to define and compare cultural appropriation versus cultural appreciation.

Discussion

What is the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation? Why is this distinction important? Why does it matter who is represented, where, and how?

Given the way this video defined cultural appropriation vs. cultural appreciation, how do you interpret the music video for “Hymn for the Weekend”?

The entertainment industry tends to forget or gloss over major historical events and influences. India was a victim of White colonialism. As was mentioned in the video by Natasha Noman, at one point lead singer of Coldplay Chris Martin is celebrated as kids are running around him with colorful powder. Why does India’s history with White colonialism matter in this context? What is problematic about this representation? Why do some critique this representation as Chris Martin being presented as a “White Savior?”

In the music video, how are Westerners represented in comparison to locals? What stereotypical images are presented of Indian people and culture? How might these representations be understood differently depending on who is watching the video?

How is Beyoncé portrayed in the music video? What is she wearing and how is she moving? Is she appropriating or appreciating Indian culture?

Analyze the other pop cultural clips dispersed throughout the .Mic video. How are these cultures or groups presented? What patterns or themes do you notice?

What are everyday examples you can think of that illustrate cultural appropriation or cultural appreciation?