Coachella, which began in 1999, sky-rocketed to become one of the biggest and most extravagant music festivals of the year. In recent years, with the aid of social media, Coachella's popularity grew even more. With social media influencers and other actors and actresses attending the festival, people can see the glamorous party aesthetic Coachella is trying to sell through pictures and videos online. The festival's marketing campaign contains beautiful images consisting of both artists and attendees enjoying their time in Indio, California.
Unfortunately, Coachella's party aesthetic started to collapse when people found out about the CEO's political agenda in 2017. Philip Anschutz, the CEO of AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group) is a conservative, Christian, multi-billionaire who was found supporting anti-LGBT organizations, such as the Family Research Council. During that year, Anschutz gave a full statement to Billboard and said the following about the accusations:
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. 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.
Both The Anschutz Foundation and I contribute to numerous organizations that pursue a wide range of causes. Neither I nor the Foundation fund any organization with the purpose or expectation that it would finance anti-LGBTQ initiatives, and when it has come to my attention or the attention of The Anschutz Foundation that certain organizations either the Foundation or I have funded have been supporting such causes, we have immediately ceased all contributions to such groups.
But according to his company's 2013 IRS statement, he does contribute to many organizations who believe in an anti-LGBT agenda. Organizations like Promise Keeper and The Navigators, both religious-affiliated groups who oppose the gay community, are also found in the IRS report. Because of this recent finding, many people are split on whether or not they should still support the AEG's iconic music festival.
Some social media influencers have even proposed a Coachella boycott.
Coachella posted their 2019 lineup on Instagram on January 2nd, featuring their big headliners: Childish Gambino, Tame Impala, and Ariana Grande. While many showed excitement for the performers, others remembered the politics behind Coachella. When the lineup was posted, people went online to tweet and persuade people to boycott Coachella.
While people plan to boycott the festival and not purchase tickets, other online users note that AEG also owns L.A. Galaxy, L.A. Live, L.A. Kings, Barclay's Center, Staples Center, and other venue areas. Boycotting the Coachella Music Festival also calls for boycotting other venue areas.
The question now is, should we cancel Coachella?
People are entitled to boycott whatever they like. We've seen this on both sides of the political spectrum. In 2018, Starbucks experienced boycotting from the Left, while Nike had people boycotting from the Right. Personally, I think that Anschutz has some disappointing views on the LGBTQ+ community. However, legally, he is entitled to donate to whatever organization he wants to. Boycotting Coachella would be a peaceful way to protest against the CEO's political agenda, but it will be a difficult task for people to accomplish since the company owns much more than the Coachella Music Festival.