Whistles and boos at Coldplay. Who was at fault?

An incident that occurred at the biggest musical event of the year in Romania has sparked a heated debate on social media. The invitation of a manele singer on stage has triggered disapproval from the audience.
Whistles and boos at Coldplay. Who was at fault?

I’m not a music specialist. I went to the concert because I listen to Coldplay in the car and when I exercise or move in the park. I like how it sounds, they are songs that move me, motivate me to run faster, or relax me.

Also, I am convinced that the artist Chris Martin is extremely talented and it is no coincidence that he has achieved the success he has.

On the other hand, I do not listen to manele.

And here begins all the complication from a concert produced at the highest standards, which was a true experience for the spectators, and the 5 minutes of chaos in which the young performer Vlad Babașa, stage name Babasha, was booed on stage open by several tens of thousands of people, about half of those present, while performing the song "Păi Naa," which has around 7 million views on YouTube.

HIT. Vlad Babașa, a manele performer, with a song listened to by millions of people - Source: YouTube/ Babasha

Babasha's song was a "manea," and a large part of those who came to the Coldplay concert are not fans of this genre of music.


Furthermore, they were so shocked that at a concert attached to values such as environmental protection, peace, and harmony, they were put in the position of listening to something like "Love with a cola taste, you've turned my compass upside down," that many of them became angry and could not control themselves. But that is not an excuse. 

An Outpouring of Hatred

The discrepancy was too great, and all the values supported and popularized by manele - the macho style, money, cars, alcohol, breaking the laws, were in contradiction with those of the British band and the show.

With all good intentions, artist Chris Martin missed the mark because he did not understand the audience that his band has in Romania.

The question that arises is whether the boos can be associated with a racist manifestation or not? In my opinion, yes. 

Regardless of how you look at the situation, behind it lies a serious issue in our society that is discussed too little - as the majority of us do not do much to understand the Roma community, to help and integrate it.


VIDEO. The scene with the song that caused the scandal at the Coldplay concert - Source: Spotmedia.ro

"In less than two minutes, there was a slow, then long, deep, thorough booing. Not the entire stadium; there were also timid applause, but then the boos intensified," journalist Cătălin Striblea described the moment, Europa FM, in a Facebook post.

"It was no longer just protests, but an outpouring of intense hatred. You could cut it with a knife at one point. It was palpable. I felt a knot in my stomach. The moment ended with some applause and a chorus of protests. Not from everyone, but from many," he added.

"A weight was lifted off my heart. First, because the two artists Martin and Babasha worked together and were very good. What they produced there from Martin's pop/rock and Babasha's manele was interesting, smart, an unexpected meeting between two cultures. I recorded it and listened to it later. They were really good," Cătălin Striblea further added.


"I don't believe Martin is scared of racism, that's what it was. And we didn't embarrass ourselves. These citizens have seen racism in England and America since we were kids," he further added. 

No To Racism

I have no other framework to assess what happened at the concert beyond UEFA rules regarding stadium behavior in connection with the association's policy to combat racism, that expression that appears on shirts, on advertising boards in stadiums, and on television screens: "No To Racism."

According to those rules, following the incident at the concert, the next few matches at the National Stadium would have been played without spectators. Here, comments can be made, and the comparison is forced, but in football and, generally, in sports competitions, there are clear rules for such situations. 

Not all those who booed were aware of this, it's strictly true, but that's what happened. We must take responsibility as a society, move forward, and not forget that the road to Hell is paved with the best intentions, as writer Mark Twain said.

When Decisions Are Made by Algorithm

There is a wave of posts on social networks, positions taken, and comments, but more important is the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, and that is that we still have many steps to take until Romanian society will be an open and tolerant one.

"If on a Steaua stadium a Dinamo fan climbed on stage, everyone instantly understood what was about to happen, and it seemed normal, even a bit funny. What is, fundamentally, the difference between one kind of tribalism and the other?" wrote Șerban Alexandrescu, Creative Director, Headvertising, in a Facebook post. Additionally, the communication expert argues that the show suffers from the commercial dimension that stifles the music.

Each of those present has an opinion about what happened there, but behind them are the facts and events that unfolded, and the episode was generated by the wrong decision of the band's manager and Chris Martin to bring on stage an artist whose audience, no matter how large it may have been, was not there.

This is what happens when decisions are made by algorithms and lack the nuances of human thinking, also related to the big debate on artificial intelligence.

Some of the spectators timidly applauded, out of politeness and embarrassment, others remained silent, some went to get a beer, and others booed. 

Each of these actions is based on values, attitudes, and reactions that reflect how the present spectators relate to the world. And the decision of those who booed represented a radical manifestation towards the song and those who sang it.

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