(Or “Another Example of Ang Moh Tua Kee?” Or “Aping the Prejudices of the West Mindlessly”)
SPH’s Jennani Durai ranted in SunTimes (FB link to story) about some UOB staff who painted their faces black for a Bollywood theme party. The FB link attracted over 300 comments, mostly negative.
This blogger tells us:
I believe these breed of netizens do not watch televisions movies & dramas or SBC productions. Probably these are the netizens who feel local productions are crap and thus watching TV will minus their IQ points by half. I urged these netizens who slammed the offensive act to take further actions against Hong Kong comedian Stephen Chow, Taiwanese Television Channels, local cinemas and Mediacorp
Over the past 2 decades, there were several TV & Movie productions which depicts Chinese painting their faces black.
(I will cheerfully admit that I didn’t know most of this: I knew of the Justice Pao black-face tradition which my amah told me indicated that he was non-Chinese*. But then I am Perankan, watch very little TV, and most importantly, I didn’t find the actions offensive*, and neither did I post critical comments.)
It is sad that it seems neither Jennani Durai nor the editors responsible checked with their colleagues in the Chinese media papers of SPH on a Chinese cultural perspective . Instead, they imposed an American perspective on the story: that it was culturally insensitive in the US to do such a dark deed, and hence it was culturally insensitive to do so here.
It is also sad that many netizens made critical comments based on the SunT story alone. I mean it’s part of the SPH media group, that many netizens love to hate. But if it confirms their prejudices or beliefs, it is halal, not haram, it seems.
Finally it is extremely sad that it seems the critical posters who were Chinese did not know of a facet of popular and traditional Chinese culture.
Another example of the culture of ang mog tua kee here? It’s not only found in the Home Team.
A final wicked tot. Would Jennani Durai and others have been so upset if the Chinks had painted themselves “wheat-coloured”? I can’t think of a single Bollywood star that has anything other than “light” skin. And Indian newspaper ads for suitable marriage partners have no qualms of requiring the other party to have “light” or “wheat-coloured” skin. I suspect, Jennani Durai and the other critics would have applauded the Cina for their cultural sensitivity, even though the preference for “light” skin shows that Indian culture has colour undertones, juz like other cultures.
*Her spin was that the Chinese respect anyone, even a non-Chinese, if that person has “virtue”. Her way of telling me that it’s OK not being Chinese. She also told me that the founder of Zen Buddhism and the martial arts tradition was an Indian monk.
**I posted a comment saying UOB and the staff concerned had no need to apologise.