disclaimer: I quite enjoy Coldplay. I just want to know wtf they were thinking when they made the video for Princess of China. Also, I wrote this once, but then it deleted by accident, so here goes again.
For your consideration.
- All of Asia ≠ China — The video references all sorts of different Asian cultures. Japan is referenced, with ninjas (wtf), katana/tanto (weapons), fashion, musical instruments (Taiko!)… Indian religious symbols are misappropriated (More on that later). By saying that all Asians are Chinese (See the title, Princess of China), you’re clumping and stereotyping, and missing out on the rich cultures of Asia, because people of the Philipines, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia, Tibet, and other places have vastly different cultures from China, and China, within itself, has all sorts of rich subcultures. To clump them together is not only a waste, it’s ignorant and racist.
- Sexualization of Religious Symbology ≠ Art — The referencing of religious symbology is fine as long as it’s done correctly and tastefully. To just use sexualized versions of Sahasra-bhuja Sahasra-netra/Cundi/Avalokitesvara/the godess Kali is rude, ignorant, and all around wrong. See Also.
- Also… — The dieties referenced above are from Buddhism and Hinduism, respectively, both of which originate from India. Buddhism was assimilated into Chinese culture, yes, but that was about 1000 years after Confucianism rose as a philosophy, and about 800 years after Daoism rose as a separate philosophy. Both Confucianism and Daoism are uniquely Chinese. Buddhism is not, and when the modern Western viewer thinks of Buddhism, they think of Tibet… which is a far cry from Beijing and the Forbidden City.
- Misinterpretation and amalgamation of culture ≠ Cool — The whole video is a horrible smorgasbord of legends and stories. Just watching it, I can see the legend of Tanabata (the godess and the cowherd), Chang’e (the moon godess), and Hero (a modern un-factual artistic retelling of the end of the Warring States period, before Christ). Dear Commenters referencing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Wrong movie, wrong director.
- Sexualization of Asian Women in Media ≠ OK — Asian women are always sexualized in Western Media. “Me love you long time”. Geishas and Dragon ladies, and Japanese school girl/maid fetishes. Do not do this, it is misogynistic, and ignorant, and racist. To have Rihanna and the back up dancers dressed in midriff bearing, high-slitted, strapless dresses, crazy hair-dos, and crazy nails is racist.
- All People Of Colour ≠ The Same — Rihanna is not ASIAN. Q.E.D. To insinuate that she is or can pass as one (see title: Princess of China) is to clump all people of colour (POC! Get it?) into one group is to create Otherness, which is bad, and can lead to racism, prejudice, and ignorance. To have Otherness is to insinuate ingroup bias, which can get very, very ugly. See: video.
- China didn’t have kings. — They had emperors, sons of Heaven. And dynasties. And they are the last surviving dynastic culture in the world (Others are the Greek, Egyptian, Ottoman empires…). The culture itself has written history leading back to way before the times of Jesus, and its full of richness. Don’t associate them with measly Kings.