Disclaimer: This piece reflects the writer’s opinion and compiled opinions of others on the subject matter. It does not reflect the opinions or beliefs of WORLD OF BUZZ.
So, Malaysia has seen several incidences where blackface and brownface were used in promotional materials and other social media content.
But, what happens when you use brownface to advocate against colourism? Yeah, it still makes it wrong.
Malaysian singer and actor, Choo Hao Ren took to his official Facebook page to showcase his latest single, White Doll, which sings a tale of love for a girl who is bullied by her schoolmates for being ‘very tanned’ and a boy who is obsessed with whitening products and the fairness of his own skin. But, multiple contradictory aspects of the video tell a different story.
The first thing that caught netizens’ eyes was the fact that Hao Ren used brownface in the video.
Hao Ren took to the comment section of his Instagram account to defend himself against the backlash from netizens calling him out.
While he shared that his intentions were to imitate people who have become tanned from walking under the sun, others pointed out that he could have just hired someone who is tanned instead of painting a fair model brown.
He also explained that blackface is something used to imitate African-Americans and others of African descent, but this is much closer to home and still very much relevant as blackface (or in this case, brownface) is still widely used in Asian countries (including Malaysia) to imitate Indians and other darker-skinned Asians.
Secondly, instead of using the video to defend those with tanned and darker skin tones, Hao Ren was showcased gifting whitening products to the girl in the video.
The girl then uses the products to become pearly-white and loved by her classmates, a concept that implies that only fair-skinned people deserve acceptance, empathy and respect.
At this point, Hao Ren even sings, “You’re my beloved white doll, like a white spotlight.”
Why is this wrong?
In order to understand why blackface (and brownface) is wrong, first, you’ll need to know the history behind its existence.
Blackface came to be in the mid-19 century, when white performers darkened their skin to mimic enslaved Africans in plantations, depicting them as lazy, ignorant, cowardly and hyper-sexual.
These performances were intended to be funny to white audiences, but obviously, it was demeaning and hurtful to the black community. These performances not only dehumanised black people but also desensitised white people of the real-life problems of the black community.
Blackface basically promoted demeaning stereotypes of black people that helped confirm white people’s notion of superiority.
Hence, just because it is done with good intentions doesn’t mean it’s any less demeaning to those with darker skin tones.
Hao Ren’s video not only condoned the degradation of those with dark skin but also validated the belief that fairer is superior, as the girl in the video is showcased to be celebrated by the classmates after she had used the whitening products to become the fairest one of all.
One way they could have improved the video is to have the girl reject Hao Ren and his gifts as she accepts and loves herself for who she is.
After all, if he really loved her, he would have accepted her, tanned skin and all, and showed their fellow classmates that laughing and bullying someone just because they have dark skin is wrong.
To all the tanned and dark-skinned people out there, you are beautiful as you are and we hope you love yourselves just as much as we love you!
What do you think about this? Let us know in the comment section.
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