Japanese TV Rings In The New Year With Blackface https://t.co/A99dN9wx4c ༄— KotakuBot (@KotakuBot) January 3, 2018
[Image via Baye McNeil]
On New Year’s Eve, one member of Japan’s most famous comedy duo donned blackface for nationwide television.
Masatoshi Hamada, who is one part of the comedy team Downtown, did … pic.twitter.com/v7KsB3YKAO
Although we have embarked on a new year, worldwide racism still persists.
Case in point: A member of Japan’s most famous comedy pair wore blackface on New Year’s Eve on national television.
According to Kotaku, Masatoshi Hamada — one half of the comedy duo Downtown — sported the offensive costume for a parody of the Eddie Murphy film “Beverly Hills Cop” during his variety show’s New Year’s Eve special. The blackface was so extensive that brown makeup was even put inside Hamada’s ears.
Black writer Baye McNeil, who has lived in Japan for 13 years and writes for The Japan Times, condemned the insensitive stunt on Twitter.
“Note to Japanese performing in #BlackFace: #Blackness is not a punchline nor a prop. Need jokes? Get better writers. Need a black character, get a black actor that speaks Japanese. There are several!”
Note to japanese performing in #BlackFace: #Blackness is not a punchline nor a prop. Need jokes? Get better writers. Need a black character, get a black actor that speaks Japanese. There are several! But please #StopBlackfaceJapan #日本でブラックフエイス止めて not a good look! pic.twitter.com/lN0E3bWsgY— Baye McNeil (@Locohama) December 31, 2017
Several Twitter users, in Japan and abroad, recognized the problem with Hamada’s costume and expressed their grievances using the platform.
meanwhile in Japan: a comedian with blackface is on a roughly 7 hour long national TV program😡🤯😠 I just wanted to end the year peacefully but no 2017 won’t let me pic.twitter.com/QrsZ7NTlBM— ぽむぽむあずにゃん (@azusayamamoto) December 31, 2017
Others, however, defended the comedian’s actions, maintaining that Japan doesn’t have the same sordid past with race as the United States and other countries.
Getting upset about Japanese doing blackface on a comedy program is like getting upset with a cow for farting. They simply lack the background to see what’s wrong. Also, I’m interested to know if blacks in Japan really even care. Only comments I see are from white or Japanese— Lloyd Vincent (@lloydvincent) January 2, 2018
As McNeil pointed out — regardless of Japan’s history — making a mockery of blackness affects how black people are treated in Japan today.
“Blackness is being treated as a tool for comedy, for laughs, and that impacts how I’m perceived and treated on a daily basis here,” McNeil said.
He added: “Do you think these comedians care about that? I doubt it. They should. The quality of my life is affected by them.”
No matter what Hamada's so-called intent was, blackface is unacceptable at all times in any country.
Perception is incredibly important, and if an entire race of people is constantly being seen as the butt of a joke, that can be internalized and then perpetuated by people who may not have the same "innocent" intentions.
The bottom line is that blackface needs to disappear in 2018 and beyond.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Getty Images, Axelle/Bauer-Griffin