Japanese band removes ‘outrageous’ music video featuring ape-like natives in song called ‘Columbus’

Mrs Green Apple’s ‘Columbus’ music video (Screenshot courtesy of X)
Mrs Green Apple’s ‘Columbus’ music video (Screenshot courtesy of X)

A Japanese pop band has apologized and removed the music video for their song “Columbus” after it sparked outrage over its depiction of ape-like natives.

The video uploaded on YouTube on Wednesday (June 12) by rock group Mrs Green Apple showed the three members dressed as Columbus, Napoleon and Beethoven as they discover a new island inhabited by people dressed in ape-like costumes.

The video was removed the next day after it received backlash, with the band releasing an apology acknowledging that the video “contains expressions that lack understanding of historical and cultural backgrounds.”

Several commenters on social media have criticized the video for being racist with its depiction of native people as monkeys, while others accused it of affirming slavery.

“The music video shows the men dressed as colonizers and the natives are portrayed as literal monkeys... that’s actually insane,” one person tweeted.

“Columbus is credited with creating slavery, and [there are] controversial scenes such as educating apes to look like natives. Didn’t anyone notice that,” a second wrote.

A third commented: “How could creation of music video glorifying the infamous Columbus, who was an invader, rapist and slave trader, be allowed in the Japanese music industry!?”

“I think the people defending this video dont know anything about history in North America,” another argued. “Columbus is hated by many Americans, to the point where Columbus Day has disappeared [in many places].”

“Wasn’t there anyone involved who had studied world history at all?” someone else questioned.

In a second statement, the band said they intended to depict “live forms of different ages of having a home party.”

“We were concerned from the beginning that [the apes] might be seen as discriminatory expression, but we had no intention of likening apes to humans,” they added.

“We never intended to make the content discriminatory or to make it something that affirms tragic history.”

Mrs Green Apples is a prominent band in Japan with 3.4 million subscribers on YouTube. Many of their songs play as the soundtrack for the popular Japanese anime show One Piece.

The video was originally a part of Coca-Cola’s Coke Studio music initiative featuring celebrities.