‘Blatant racism’: Hong Kong TV series ‘Barrack O’Karma 1968’ receives criticism for actor wearing brown face
The concept of “Asian fishing,” in which people of non-Asian descent use makeup, clothing, or other means to appear East Asian, is not new to the entertainment industry. For a long time it has been used to stereotype a particular part of society. A few months ago, the Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma has been called out for sporting a ‘brownface’ for his character in the film Chakda Xpress.
And now a Hong Kong TV series is facing backlash on using “brownface” after one of his actors darkened his skin with makeup for his role as a Filipino maid. For the uninitiated, “brownface” refers to makeup done to darken the face and other exposed skin to mimic the complexion of an ethnic or racial group.
“I turn into another person”, actor Franchesca Wong, who appears in the series O’Karma Barracks 1968 with visibly darker skin, said in a video on Twitter while putting on makeup. “I am Sun tanning right now.”
After the episode aired on Tuesday, several people took to social media to call out the casting of a Hong Kong actor on a real Filipino to play the character, and for blatantly reinforcing the negative stereotypes associated with Asians.
“Hong Kong media are raving about the performance of a local actress who paints her face black to play the role of a Filipina in a TVB series. I haven’t watched the show (I don’t I didn’t mean to) but it’s so wrong. Why does it still exist today?” wrote Vivienne Chow, a journalist on Twitter.
Hong Kong media are raving about the performance of a local actress who paints her face black to play the role of a Filipina in a TVB series. I haven’t watched the show (didn’t mean to) but it’s so bad. Why does this still exist today? pic.twitter.com/nRo169Kmy0
— Vivienne Chow (@VivienneChow) April 12, 2022
Many people expressed their displeasure with the “brownface” in the comments section of the actor’s Instagram post.
“How are some people so blind to blatant racism lmao. Really disappointing,” wrote one user.
Another user commented: “Disappointing to see so many of mine unable to recognize the brown face problem, stereotyping and overwhelming amount of occasional racism.”
“If you are going to represent a marginalized population that is subject to systemic racism, you need to do better (i.e. represent them with dignity and respect). Not that brown face stereotype. It’s just embarrassing and outdated for the Hong Kong TV industry and everyone involved,” read another comment.
Raly Tejada, the Philippine Consul General in Hong Kong, expressed his concerns in a Facebook post and wrote, “The show is downright ignorant, insensitive and utterly disgusting. There’s no denying that the depiction of the Filipino helper and the use of brownface reinforces the negative stereotypes that characterize “Ban Mui” – an offensive Cantonese slang.
“Recent world events should have taught TVB that it is unacceptable to assign corresponding social value to a particular race. You have no right to mock and ridicule people because of their race and ethnicity,” he added.
After receiving criticism, TVB defended the show’s storyline and called it “simply a creatively driven dramatic plot”.
“TVB has always strived to deliver a top notch entertainment experience to our viewers and we would like to emphasize that it was never our intention to disrespect or discriminate against any nationality in any of our programs. We would like to express our concern to anyone who may be affected by this matter,” the broadcaster said. CNN.