Artist Choo Hao Ren or better known as Haoren has defended using blackface in a music video advertisement that he’s featured in.
Replying to rising concerns about how inappropriate it was to paint the main actresses face brown and enforce existing stigmas of how black or tanned skin is ugly and white is beautiful, Haoren has defended the whole thing.
(If you want to watch the actual video, we’ve embedded it to the original story below. Scroll down k.)
“Blackface’ is people who do makeup to imitate black people in (the United States) and that offended them.
“My artwork is imitating people who got tanned by the sun in Malaysia and this is a true story of my girlfriend Gladish who used to walk to school and become tanned.
“I hope you all can listen to the lyrics deeply and the story of the music video in detail to understand in the right way,” wrote Haoren in his Instagram comments section.
We all know it is something that should never be done.
It’s inappropriate, demeaning and downright offensive.
Unfortunately, someone forgot to send the memo to Mandopop artist, actor and YouTube star Choo Hao Ren or better known as Haoren and his team who came up with a music video advert that focusses around a ‘blackface’ female character.
The advert, in the form of a five minute music video was put together for a skin-whitening product called Snowbebe is just full of cringeworthy moments.
The main actress who is painted a dark brown is the star of the MV.
It starts with her idiotic schoolmates sticking a note on her back which says “You’re so dark, does your mom know?” and laughing at the poor girl.
The torture continues as these same two monkeys a.k.a schoolmates laugh at her when the canteen person speaks to her in Malay, insinuating that her tanned skin makes her look more Malay than Chinese.
Don’t know why being mistaken as a Malay girl is funny but the girls laugh uncontrolably at her (we think the girls may need some mental help), forcing the main heroine to get upset and run off.
And that’s just the beginning you guys.
The video then continues with the upset girl running to her desk and being surprised with a present from a secret crush. What did the crush get her? Some Snowbebe products!
Her secret crush also leaves her other whitening inducing gifts including a cup of soya, an umbrella, a cardigan and sunblock.
All this is accompanied by the crush a.k.a. Haoren singing “They don’t understand how white you are, how white, how white you are – In my heart you are extremely white, extremely white, extremely white”.
(White here probably means pure la but stillllllllllllllll!)
The main heroine’s skin eventually turns into a Twilight vampire-like white and suddenly everyone loves her. The story continues and if you’re interested to watch, just scroll down and we’ve embedded it lah.
We just cannot brain it. It’s just too much.
Thankfully, we were not the only ones ticked off by this insulting video.
Posting on the comments section on Hoaren’s Instagram page, many Malaysians called him out.
“Bruh pls educate yourself first before posting these things its very offensive,” said user m.xbelll.
“Heard of blackfacing? Yeah that’s not okay and not allowed. Thank you very much,” posted sis.turrr.
“Through the entire production, a group of people saw this in motion and thought, hey this is a GREAT idea? it’s 2021 la pls don’t stupid can,” wrote thatpraveena.
“I’m so embarrassed to be Chinese Malaysians because of the idiotic behaviour that we are showing to the entire world,” said snickers_nickers.
Scarily enough, there were quite a number of positive comments from users with some saying that they were quite tickled by the MV.
For all of you who don’t understand why blackface is wrong, read on!
What is ‘blackface’?
A form of theatrical makeup which gained popularity back in the early 19th century, blackface is normally used by non-black performers to portray a black person in plays and on the silver screen.
In the United States around 1830, non-black performers would put black paint on their faces and perform ridiculous stereotypes about African-Americans in Minstrel shows, a form of live show which consisted of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music. Think of it as a 19th century Saturday Night Live.
The performers would usually use burnt cork, greasepaint or shoe polish to darken their skin. They would often exaggerate their lips and wear wigs and ragged clothes to complete the transformation.
In Minstrel shows, African-Americans were portrayed as “lazy, dim-witted and buffoonish”.
At the height of its popularity, Minstrel shows managed to make its way to other countries, especially in Britian where they were reportedly so popular, they lasted longer than in the United States.
The Black And White Minstrel Show, for example, was broadcasted on Britain’s BBC channel for twenty years, starting from 1958! By 1964, the show reportedly pulled in more than 21 million viewers.
Not only that, several screen legends such as Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby also performed in blackface in several big movies throughout the 1930s.
In fact, in the early years of film, African-American roles were usually played by white actors in blackface.
One of the most popular films of that time – and arguably one of the most important films ever – The Jazz Singer featured white actor Al Johnson in blackface. Premiering in 1927, The Jazz Singer was the first ever film to feature a synchronised recorded music score and lip-synchronous singing and speech.
As blackface entertainment grew, more and more African-Americans started appearing in Minstrel shows and films. The African-American actors in all-black Minstrel shows were dubbed “the real thing” and “authentic”.
But then it all changed
Despite its popularity at that time, more and more people were beginning to shun blackface Minstrel shows.
By the mid-20th century, the people started branding the African-American stereotypes portrayed in Minstrel shows as racist, effectively ending the prominence of using blackface in entertainment.
Tens of years of being exposed to blackface entertainment has led the people into shaping wrong perceptions about the African-American community, as these portrayals were mostly centered around insulting and degrading them.
By the 1950s, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the United States started paying attention to such performances and they even mounted a huge campaign to end blackface performances once and for all.
In 1954, African-Americans banded together to seek an end to end racial segregation and discrimination against them. The African-American Civil Rights Movement lasted close to 15 years, but in the end, blackface performances as well as other blatant branding practices were considered taboo in the United States.
Why blackface is wrong
Two words: it’s degrading.
Like we mentioned above, blackface performances back in the day were centered around insulting and making fun of the African-American community.
The African-American community has struggled for centuries to rid themselves of the stereotypes portrayed in blackface performances, so pulling a stunt like that would throw the minorities back into the spotlight that they’ve been trying to escape for hundreds of years.
No matter if it’s satire or to “highlight the importance of inner beauty”, blackface (including yellowface, brownface, redface etc) is wrong.
There’s no place in the world for blackface – and there should never be a good time to use it.
We hope Haoren and the rest of the gang who were featured and came up with this distasteful MV realises this.
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