Festival season is in full swing, and this time of year brings concerts galore and Instagram feeds filled to the brim with intense outfits and pictures of overpriced watermelon slices.
Past the filtered posts and dozens of Snapchat stories of music acts is also a chance to reflect on the several issues this popular music festival brings — and no, I'm not talking about the large amount of drug-use that happens at these scenes.
1. Coachella has a problematic CEO
Quite possibly the biggest news of Coachella that many chose to look past was that its owner, Philip Anschutz, reportedly supports anti-LGBTQ+ groups. This has proven to be quite the frenzy as questions have been raised to artists and attendees for their support of the festival. The question remains: when does the glitz and glamor of Coachella trump people’s morals?
During weekend one alone, Ariana Grande faced backlash for projecting a rainbow during her set although her performance would support the festival financially, and specifically, Anschutz. These festival-goers might want to rethink where their money is going — or at least be cognizant.
2. The "full Coachella experience" comes at an outrageous cost
The outrageous prices people pay for tickets are no secret, but that is just a small part of the costly annual event. Looking deeper into Coachella, the full festival experience also includes new clothing, hotels, food, merchandise and other miscellaneous items that most certainly cost quite a lot — even somebody’s rent in some cases.
According to Business Insider, it costs $429 for general admission festival tickets, but the prices can go up to $2,000 for the entire experience for some festival-goers. Of course, there are always ways to keep costs low, but with pressures high to "make the most of it," that might be a hard feat.
3. There are elitist themes present
There has been a large sense of classism and elitism surrounding one of the largest and most popular music festivals in the world. The high costs and the multitude of Instagram influencers and celebrities in attendance make the festival, which originally began as an alternative music festival, seem just out of reach. Getting a ticket and the opportunity to be among these celebrities can be more of a focus than the music and memories made.
It is so much more focused on the clout that comes with attending Coachella as opposed to what the purpose of the festival was created to be. Ten poses for 20 Instagram pictures, with and without friends, is what the event has come to as a way to flaunt your status.
4. Cultural appropriation is common at the festival
You and I have seen it, but maybe we just haven't said anything yet. Maybe, we all wanted to believe that traditional headdresses stayed in 2014. However, there is evidence to prove that cultural appropriation hasn't stopped and is, in fact, more present than ever at Coachella.
Laila Kabongi, a senior majoring in health sciences and member of the Multicultural Solidarity Coalition, said the conversation on cultural appropriation should be on "who do these items belong to and what cultures identify with those items, and why it is still wrong to wear them."
Kabongi said that she sees hairstyles are judged on a case by case basis, but not fairly, urging people to educate themselves, listen and create spaces to talk about cultural appropriation.
“When I see someone who doesn’t identify as black wearing these hairstyles, you know, because it’s cool or it’s fun or it’s trendy, it is highly problematic," Kabongi said. "Especially because there’s a double standard there in why is it ok when you wear my hairstyle, but when I do, it’s a problem.”
5. One weekend festival doesn't improve the impoverished surrounding cities
The influx of people and money that Coachella brings, including thousands of fans and thousands of dollars being spent may seem like a great thing for the local economy, and it is — for a time. But all that money generally goes toward the festival owners, performers and staff. Throughout the year, the two weekends aren't nearly enough to support the local economy for Coachella Valley and the surrounding cities between Phoenix and Los Angeles.
As swiftly as some overlook the controversies that surround the festival, the local economy is overlooked just as easily. According to the Los Angeles Times, "In the world these articles reflect — that is to say, reality — 39% of the population in the Eastern Coachella Valley lives in poverty, nearly double the state rate."
The realities are harsh and, no matter the amazing talent and fun vibes, this should not go overlooked.
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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