Throw away your flower crowns, pack up your tents, and drive away from Indio. The famous music festival Coachella, the epicenter of cultural appropriation and capitalism, is not all fun and games.
Coachella is under the ownership of AEG, a corporate giant who owns and operates several sports teams, venues, and music events. Philip Anschutz, the owner of AEG, is suspected to have donated his profits to questionable groups. The pro-LGBT group Freedom for All Americans placed him on a graph that shows him extending funds to anti-LGBT groups. The Alliance Defending Freedom, National Christian Foundation, and Family Research Council are all anti-LGBT groups that Anschutz has donated to. These foundations support conversion therapy and the idea that being gay is a choice, and several of them have been defined as “extremist groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
However, Anschultz was quick to defend his action by claiming he had never donated. “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,” the statement read. “We are fortunate to employ a wealth of diverse individuals throughout our family of companies, all of whom are important to us – the only criteria on which they are judged is the quality of their job performance; we do not tolerate discrimination in any form.”
This apology seems suspicious, especially when you consider the fact that the Washington Post labeled him as “an enemy of equality” when analyzing his conservative business deals. Coming in at #96 on the 2016 Forbes Billionaire List, Anschutz is one of the richest men in America. He is also suspected of supporting climate change denial groups, as he often meets with the Koch brothers at their “strategy meetings” on climate change denial.
Aside from questionable leadership, music festivals, Coachella in particular, are known to be a site of cultural appropriation. Whether it’s dashikis, bindis, cornrows, or headdresses, uneducated people outside of the culture they’re representing are often not interested in correcting their mistake.
In fact, when Vice magazine spoke to people who were wearing offensive outfits at Coachella 2016, many people knew that they were appropriating, yet continued to wear someone else’s culture for fun. A woman wearing a bindi said, “Honestly, I was a little skeptical at first because, you know, this is somebody else’s culture. Projecting that and them not being comfortable with it is kind of strange.” A couple wearing dashikis said, “It’s like my little African feel-good shirt…I actually like to take pride in my clothing. Everybody thinks I’m cool. I can dance, and I feel funky in it.” This unapologetic ignorance is rampant at festivals such as Coachella and often goes unchecked. You can find a guide from Teen Vogue on how to avoid culturally offensive outfits here. Sign a petition asking Coachella to ban culturally offensive pieces here.
As an article by Uproxx said, “If the price tag isn’t keeping you out of Indio this year, maybe your conscience should.”