Rihanna Apologizes for Cultural Appropriation at Savage x Fenty Lingerie Fashion Show
“We understand that we have hurt many of our Muslim brothers and sisters, and I’m incredibly disheartened by this!”
It’s a sensitive age. People are more aware than ever of cultural and sociological boundaries and less afraid of calling out transgressions by anyone. The latest celebrity to find this out the hard way is Rihanna, whose October 1 lingerie fashion show for her Savage x Fenty line included music that inadvertently offended Muslims.
The show ticked a lot of boxes. It was as sexy as you’d expect, there was an unusually diverse selection of models, and the fashions presented were original and daring. However, a song used during the performance, Coucou Chloe’s “Doom,” contained sampled Islamic phrases called “Hadith.” These musical snippets recorded the words of the Prophet Muhammad meant to direct a variety of religious actions.
Via social media channels like Twitter, Muslim users voiced a mix of anger and indignation, clearly feeling as if the song was disrespectful to their faith and essentially an act of cultural appropriation.
there’s really no way we can let this slide like a straight up HADITH???? rihanna baby you screwed up HARD https://t.co/gxUOvtHGn5
— noura (closed) (@tetegoodboyy) October 4, 2020
PLEASE OPEN THIS THREAD AND EDUCATE YOURSELVES AND SPREAD THIS INFORMATION TO OTHERS!!! IN RIHANNA’S SAVAGE X FENTY LINGERIE SHOW THEY USED A SONG THAT CONTAINED ISLAMIC HADITH AND OFFENDED MANY PEOPLE!! THEY SPED UP THE HADITH AND PUT MUSIC OVER IT:
— tuana (@wilbursooT_T) October 5, 2020
i can’t let Rihanna have a pass w appropriating Islam like for her first show the models wore a scarf around their heads and it looked like HIJAB and her second show she used a track that remixed a HADITH….why is no one talking about this, my religion is not y’all’s aesthetic
— . (@reversecocunut) October 4, 2020
In response, Rihanna posted a statement on Instagram—see above—which read:
I’d like to thank the Muslim community for pointing out a huge oversight that was unintentionally offensive in our savage x Fenty show. I would, more importantly, like to apologize to you for this honest, yet careless mistake. We understand that we have hurt many of our Muslim brothers and sisters, and I’m incredibly disheartened by this! I do not play with any kind of disrespect toward God or any religion and therefore the use of the song in our project was completely irresponsible! Moving forward we will make sure nothing like this ever happens again.
Via Twitter, singer Coucou Chloe issued her own apology.
Chloe apologized “deeply” and said, “I take full responsibility for the fact I did not research these words properly and want to thank those of you who have taken the time to explain this to me.”
She concluded by stating the song was being removed “from all streaming platforms.”
As noted by several publications, while Rihanna is a prominent voice for social justice in the entertainment industry, she’s been accused of appropriation in the past, when her July 2019 cover of Harper’s Bazaar China was dinged for appearing “Asian” in nature. Readers in China itself, however, didn’t seem too bent out of shape, which neutralized the controversy before it really took off.
Rihanna, the richest female musician in the world, could likely afford to ignore such controversies, but thus far she has addressed them directly and taken measures to fix the problem.
Still, it really is a very sensitive time for a lot of people. This controversy will likely be forgotten pretty quickly once another one replaces it.