Coachella music festival brings style controversy

Festival goers Joy Corrigan, left, and Ashley Haas dance at Coachella Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on Sunday, April 16, 2017, in Indio, Calif. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

By Shivani Gosai | Assistant Opinions Editor

Every year as the weather gets warmer, young adults break out their flower crowns and bohemian crop tops, and they get ready to celebrate their favorite artists and singers. This is also known as music festival season.

Long-heralded as one of the most well-known music festivals, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has always been a playground for celebrities or regular people wealthy enough to afford a ticket.

However, Coachella 2017 has already proven to be a mess.

For some reason, hipster festival-goers have consistently been seen wearing an item stolen from another culture. Coachella has always been a lightening rod for offensive fashion trends, such as bindis and Native American headdresses.

The bindi is a trend that always pops up at Coachella every year. Countless celebrities such as Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens have all been seen sporting bindis at the festival.

There is fine line between appreciation and appropriation, and if you’d like to celebrate the Hindu culture in an appropriate setting, by all means, be my guest. But if you’re wearing a bindi because it’s your summer festival trend, you are being offensive. While the bindi has multiple meanings in Hindu culture and those meanings continuously evolve, that doesn’t make its use at Coachella any less degrading.

Wear what you’d like to music festivals; it’s a chance to express yourself while having fun with your friends, but acknowledge the boundaries of cultural appropriation.

Philip Anschutz, the owner of Coachella’s parent company AEG, was revealed to have some questionable politics by The Washington Post in January. Anschutz was outed for helping fund the Alliance Defending Freedom campaign, which The Human Rights Campaign has claimed to be “the nation’s largest anti-LGBTQ legal group.”

According to the LGBTQ advocacy group Freedom for All Americans, The Alliance Defending Freedom campaign has sponsored over 200 anti-LGBTQ bills in 34 states, including 17 bills that specifically target transgender Americans. Anschutz has also donated thousands of dollars to the Family Research Council, an organization that deems marriage as “a union of one man and one woman” and proudly boasts that “the transgender movement” is a denial of “physical reality” on its blog. After the harsh realization that your Coachella funds are supporting someone with discriminatory actions, the festival hype does not seem worth it.

Anschutz’s affiliations attack our planet as well, Greenpeace also called him out as a “financier of climate science denial groups” since 2013. This is extremely ironic for the bohemian, flower children attending the desert festival.

He spoke out on the backlash in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine saying, “Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news — it is all garbage … I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation.”

Anschutz claims to have cut all funding towards the controversial organizations. Unfortunately, his statement means little as we already have firsthand evidence that Anschutz is an anti-LGBT, climate change denying money guzzler.

To add to the mess that is Coachella, Drake himself has just called out his Coachella Valley accommodations of racial discrimination. In an already-deleted Instagram post, Drake shared a picture of the Madison Club logo, a luxury residential community in La Quinta, California, with the caption: “The most offensive place I have ever stayed at in my life with staff who pick and choose who they are going to accommodate based on racial profiling #Coachella.”

What was initially supposed to be a celebration of music, Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival has deteriorated into a strange combination of cultural appropriation, capitalism and discrimination.