Cape Town’s MCQP costume party has defended itself against claims that its recently announced “A Bollywood Production” theme is offensive and inappropriate.
The 2016 theme was revealed to great fanfare on Saturday, but some quickly condemned it on social media as an example of “cultural appropriation” and demanded that it be changed.
A petition has now been set up accusing the event of “uncalled for exploitation of the iconography of Indian culture for the pleasure and profit of a largely privileged and white audience”.
On Tuesday, MCQP issued a statement in response to the furore and insisted that the theme was simply an attempt to pay homage to the “multi-billion dollar Indian based movie production scene”.
“This is the second movie based theme, having hosted ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ in 2008,” said Ian McMahon, Director of MCQP.
“This theme is just another celebration of cinematic success and excellence, not intended to be anything more,” he added.
In response to accusations that no members of the Indian community were involved in MCQP’s production or promotional material, McMahon argued that in coming up with the theme, the producers enlisted the help of Indian wedding organiser and Cape Town drag queen Lola Fine.
McMahon said this was “in order to ensure that we stay on the right side of Bollywood and steer away from any religious Hindi component”. He explained that, “our intent is that our theme does not touch close to the religious aspects”.
Lola Fine herself stated: “Rest assured, nothing at this year’s event will be offensive to anyone, no matter what their own personal cultural background is.
“It’s going to be a beautiful celebration, and as we are known as the Rainbow Nation, the colourful theme of Bollywood is a perfect fit! I was consulted by MCQP and am excited to be involved in this whole production,” she said.
Bollywood is the name given to the hugely popular Indian film industry, based in Mumbai (Bombay), which has given rise to hundreds of movies and spawned a sub-culture that has swept the globe.
The organisers said that many cities all over the world have hosted similar events, celebrating the Indian film industry.
Now in its 23rd year, MCQP was launched as a primarily gay or ‘queer’ event.
“It has since become an annual Cape Town institution, attended by thousands of enthusiasts of all cultures, races and sexual orientation – celebrating a fun event together in a united way as people accepting each other for who they are,” said McMahon.
“It is Africa’s biggest and longest running costume party and we always aim to be all inclusive,” he added.
The event, taking place on Saturday, 17 December from 2pm, will for the first time, be held at the ZipZap Circus Dome in the Foreshore.