Guantanamo-themed Coachella party draws scorn

Posted By Kristen Butler,  |  April 9, 2013 at 10:36 AM
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Annual desert music festival Coachella begins on Friday, and the Daily Intelligencer reports that a corporate party called New Guantanamo is advertised as a "unique and painfully pleasurable pop-up experience."

The event is presented by Flaunt magazine and Le Baron with sponsors True Religion and Smashbox Studios.

"The watering hole, the first building ever built in Coachella, CA, will feature playful torture by Smashbox Studios with beats poured by French music and fashion label Kitsuné," reads the invitation. "This one will go until dawn."

Within hours of the invitation being shared online and the ensuing media outrage, Smashbox pulled out of the event. In a statement to the Daily Intelligencer, Dee deLara, VP of marketing and creative at Smashbox, said that Flaunt magazine is "changing the theme of the event."

"We had agreed to do the photobooth before we even knew what the event was," she added. "We have a great partnership with them. We didn't realize it would be in bad taste."

Later, Flaunt issued a statement addressing the controversy, but didn't say whether they would change the theme.

"In its 15-year history, Flaunt has not shied away from controversy or provocation. We routinely cover topics of social and political contention. At our event, we intend to create an atmosphere of fun, and the spirit and theme were never intended to cause offense or harm. Guantanamo has been controversial from its inception, and that an unresolved human rights issue is again fetching headlines is, in our opinion, true to our aims as a publication. We value and respect the public's concern and are taking action."

As a result, Smashbox pulled out of the event entirely.

"Smashbox Studios will no longer act as a sponsor to Flaunt’s Coachella after party. We were not informed of the inappropriate theme prior to the release of the invitation today. We feel strongly that even with a new event title, the feel good atmosphere of the party has been tainted."

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