Although it only lasts a few days, thousands of people make the trek down to Indio, California to fully experience Coachella. However, most are unaware of the controversy surrounding the founder of this iconic annual music festival.
Philip Anschutz, the owner of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, Coachella’s parent company, has recently come into the light for some questionable activities. Anschutz has supported many controversial conservative groups in the United States through donations made from his personal account.
Some of these groups, such as the National Christian Foundation and the Family Research Council, are heavily against LGBTQ+ rights. While Anschutz has denied any allegations of himself being anti-LGBTQ+, his support for conservative groups such as these seem to dispute his claims.
This brings into question the morality of Anschutz’s character and whether or not this should have any effect on your decision to visit Coachella.
While some choose to protest Coachella by simply not attending, does this decision hurt yourself more than it hurts the founder? We should not deprive ourselves of any potential fun that we might have. But should we also refuse to support one who backs organizations that infringe on the rights of specific groups of people just based on their sexuality.
People should not be prejudiced against based on their sexuality, and the Coachella festival certainly strays away from that idea. Coachella embraces the LGBTQ+ community with open arms despite its founders controversial actions. However, while Anschutz has come out into the public in support of the LGBTQ+ community, his previous actions negate his public statements.
But Coachella is not the only organization whose CEO has been exposed. Many other companies have recently been in the limelight for their respective controversial founders.
Travis Kalanick, the former CEO of Uber, was caught displaying sexism in the company. These allegations came to light when a survey was taken throughout the company, and a video surfaced in which Kalanick was using racial and sexual slurs to a driver. Yet, people still use Uber.
Eventually, Kalanick was forced to resign; however, he remains a shareholder.
Uber is a difficult company to protest against, since it is an indispensable service and job provider for many people.
Some Uber drivers are being forced to turn to other rideshare companies, such as Lyft. As the company’s competitors gain drivers and other apps are becoming more popular, Uber is in danger of losing revenue.
Like Coachella and Uber, Facebook has been in the news lately. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, has come under review regarding allegations of selling private user information to third parties. Zuckerberg has had to face the public’s scrutiny, resulting in many restricting their use of the popular service.
Zuckerberg still remains on the board on Facebook and is a major force of the company. He recently appeared before the United States Congress to defend Facebook’s breach of user privacy and security. But while Zuckerberg’s case is unique because he was not showing any prejudice towards race, gender or members of the LGBTQ+ community, many people still refuse to use his product.
Abercrombie and Fitch is another example of this ongoing trend. Michael Jeffries, A&F’s former CEO, stepped down in 2014 after saying that the company was geared towards skinny people, and that overweight and unattractive people should not shop at the store.
Abercrombie suffered a huge blow from these statements, and while Jeffries is no longer a part of the company, the appeal of the Abercrombie apparel towards consumers has taken a significant blow.
Ultimately, it is the consumers’ choice as whether or not to use a controversial product or service. But while many people speak out against these founders, they contradict themselves by continuing to use Uber or attending Coachella.
More than 100,000 people attended the last Coachella festival back in April 2018. It can be argued that this is one of the most popular music festivals in the world, thus making it unique on its own. With Uber and Facebook, however, there are alternatives like Lyft and Instagram.
The founder’s misjudgment should not be the reason to take the festival away from these thousands of people. The festival also brings in many product endorsements and other companies tend to benefit from the festival as well.
Because of the popularity and all the hype surrounding the festival, it continues to thrive, and festival itself is not prejudiced against any person. This helps to make the atmosphere of the festival accepting. Many people continue dream of going to Coachella because they believe that the experience of doing so is irreplaceable.
Many people are protesting Facebook by not using the website, because they believe are protecting themselves, and with the multiple people not using Facebook the popularity of the website declines. Despite the popularity of the Uber app, as more and more people tend to protest Uber its competitors are becoming more popular.
Coachella is a festival that many people will still purchase a ticket to, despite the controversy surrounding it. This may be because people are simply not educated on the prejudice that is taking place behind the scenes at this music festival. Coachella is not one of a kind, and just like Uber there are alternative festivals that one could visit and still have the same experience, such as Lollapalooza or Austin City Limits.
If enough people protest Coachella, just as they are now protesting Facebook, the popularity of Coachella would decline. By simply not attending you are showing an act of defiance, and that you do not approve of the inappropriate actions of the founder of the company.
Story by Sahasra Chigurupati. Photo Courtesy of Drew Ressler.