Last week it was super bowl time in America. It was Colorado Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers. It was festive time for all the football diehards and my old fried a diehard invited me to a super bowl party an annual ritual. As much I describe myself as a sports fan American football does not constantly catch my attention and I only keep myself informed through some glaring headlines which show up on my daily subway commutes as my co commuters flip the papers of the New York daily Post. Interestingly Super bowl gets more of an audience for its advertisements and its half time show than for the actual thrills of the game.
This time around the Half time show was played out loud by Chris Martin of the ColdPlay Group and Beyoncé and what caught my attention was Cold Play bands name boldly displayed in Hindi on the Half time show. Well that naturally aroused my curiosity and I went on an internet search. Well here we go I came across criticism of the Cold Play bands so called Cultural Appropriation. Hmmm that was interesting. I researched a bit further and made myself aware that Cold Play recently released a music album “Hymn for the weekend” with an Indian Backdrop depicting some stereotyped Indian notions. I watched the video and saw nothing out worldly wrong with it but I was amazed at the number of articles which criticized the video. The key phrase was the misuse of Cultural Appropriation.
Now that made me research a bit further to understand what cultural appropriation was all about. Cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture. Cultural appropriation is seen by some as controversial, notably when elements of a minority culture are used by members of the cultural majority; this is seen as wrongfully oppressing the minority culture or stripping it of its group identity and intellectual property rights. This view of cultural appropriation is sometimes termed “cultural misappropriation. According to authors in the field, cultural misappropriation differs from acculturation or assimilation in that the “appropriation” or “misappropriation” refers to the adoption of these cultural elements in a colonial manner: elements are copied from a minority culture by members of the dominant culture, and these elements are used outside of their original cultural context sometimes even against the expressed, stated wishes of representatives of the originating culture.
I began to wonder how this applies to the cold paly video “Hymn for the weekend” Well the Criticism points to the fact that the video shows stereotypical images of India. That was again interesting. Some things remain what they are no matter what and why feel affronted when some snippets of reality are portrayed in a musical vide ? I mean the critics of the video were upset that the Indian culture was misappropriated and shown in a negative light. Well the point of my blog is not to take a stand but trying to understand the subtleties and differences between cultural appropriation misappropriation and cultural appreciation.
Culture appropriation is when a person from one culture adopts components of another culture for their own use, according to the website Everyday Feminism. Culture appreciation is learning about and respecting a culture and their customs. Our society intertwines many cultures, and we should all appreciate different cultures for their unique traditions and histories. If someone has a genuine interest in a culture, there are plenty of opportunities to research and understand it. Through this research, we can come to appreciate another culture and the elements that make up that culture. However, this becomes a problem when people from different cultures decide it is acceptable to take certain aspects from a culture that is not their own, most of time having not done the research about the significance of the aspect they are choosing, and trivializing it. Yet, when these instances of culture appropriation happen, and people from that mocked culture backlash, it doesn’t seem to solve the problem; it’s only brushed off, seen as an overreaction.
In that context the Critics of the Cold Play video had this to say. According to critics, the video that was predominately shot in Worli, located in south Mumbai, fails to reflect the face of the newer cities and is merely a mix of old clichés. “Kids dressed as Gods check, bright bright colors check, slums check,” said Mumbai-based Indian musician Mihir Joshi, adding that the video reinforces age-old stereotypes and does not show India as it is today. “When you become a band as big as Coldplay, you got to have a little responsibility towards showing something which is relatively accurate.
So I guess that’s what Cultural misappropriation was all about. So finally if you want to take a survey about where you stand in the cultural appreciation debate you can take this survey