Microaggressions

Kelley Wheeler, junior studying art studies

I recently discovered that my best friend does not like Coldplay. Excuse me, what? I know that they are not the most original, but it’s Coldplay! (This is the extent of my argument.) I don’t think there is anything that you could specifically dislike. Except, maybe, their new music video, which was released a few weeks ago. People really aren’t digging the blatant cultural appropriation in the music video, especially as it relates to Beyoncé’s look.

The video takes place in India. It highlights the common imagery of India: loads of people, rickshaw rides and Holi festivals. Oh, and insert Coldplay in the middle of said Holi festival. The song, “Hymn for the Weekend,” has virtually nothing to do with India. They just wanted to shoot their video there. That’s fine. That’s actually great. The director, Ben Mor, did a phenomenal job making the country look like the party scene. Everyone is smiling. But, I have a question for you, Mor: Why did Beyoncé have to be dressed to the nines in traditional Indian clothing? The band was wearing its typical T-shirts and jeans and stood out just fine. Beyoncé, on the other hand, is wearing a loud sari, heavy jewelry, flowers in her hair and henna on her hands. It is a little much, don’t you think? 

People are showing their backlash through a series of tweets, mainly stating the fact that Beyoncé is obviously using aspects of a culture different from her own, which is considered to be cultural appropriation. They are stating that Beyoncé is “getting away” with cultural appropriation because of her status as a celebrity. However, is this situation actually that bad? 

I hear you guys on Twitter. It is unfair how celebrities can get away with murder, but Beyoncé was just told to wear an outfit that was appropriate for the setting of the video. According to Josh Gelernter, a writer for the National Review Online, her culturally appropriated outfit was offensive to the young leftists who believe that “a culture has the exclusive right to its products.” It may be that each culture should be the dominant user of its products; however, it’s illogical to keep people from wearing clothes from other cultures while also trying to banish boundaries and promote diversity. It’s all very counterintuitive. And where did this hyperawareness of others’ feelings come from? 

The answer? Coddling. We currently live in a culture in which “vindictive protectiveness,” according to “The Coddling of the American Mind,” is affecting the current generation of students. Since the beginning, our generation has been “babied” more so than previous generations, causing us to be hypersensitive to words and triggers.

Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, the writers of “The Coddling of the American Mind,” are not the only two who think our generation is a little too sensitive. According to Caitlin Flanigan’s “That’s Not Funny!” article, Chris Rock, along with a number of other popular comedians, has given up on comedy shows on college campuses because the audience “can’t seem to take a joke.” Oversensitivity is giving us a bad reputation. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want Rock to think poorly of our generation. 

Because of our generation’s immense awareness of microaggressions, we have become more sensitive and overly pessimistic about the littlest things. It is hard to believe that Beyoncé would put on that sari with the intention of undermining Indians. 

The bottom line is that Coldplay and Beyoncé, two of the biggest names in music, chose India as their filming location. India is beautiful, but so are places such as Greece, Thailand, Peru and other locations that people seek out for beauty. These two major stars could have filmed anywhere, but they decided to shed a positive light on a country that very few people envision as their first choice destination. That’s a good thing. India is being exposed as a place of color and light instead of being pinpointed for being overcrowded, impoverished and polluted. 

Of course, no one, with or without having a powerful status, should “get away” with offending someone. But, in this case, Beyoncé has not committed the crime of the century. Life will go on. Plus, she helped bring us another little Britpop jingle — Coldplay’s specialty — because there weren’t enough already.