Toggle showed Chinese actor in blackface role because his Indian colleague couldn’t make it
His Indian colleague is called Muthu, because effort.
Witness to War: Remembering 1942
23 September 2017 - 25 March 2018, -
National Museum of Singapore
Good news, bad news.
Good news, there are still local productions.
Bad news, one of the local productions did this.
These are the Internet’s general reaction to this faux pas.
sg: "regardless of race"
also sg: pic.twitter.com/5nKuPbIK2X
— mr frowny (@seitanclaws) October 25, 2016
So what happened?
The scene is from a Toggle original called I want to be a Star.
The show follows the trials and tribulations of some bit part actors looking for their big break.
Here are all the good decisions that lead to this cinematic masterpiece.
First, the casting lady wanted an African actor.
But due to a miscommunication, they did not have a muscular African man.
Well then let’s postpone the shooting, or recast the character right?
Chew Chor Meng’s character immediately decided to call his Indian colleague, Muthu (no, really, he calls him Muthu), because Indians = Africans.
When the casting lady tried to make a distinction between an Indian and an African, Chew Chor Meng’s character dropped this immortal line, translated from Chinese of course.
“It’s all the same what”
No Indian, now how?
Deprived of an Indian actor to play an African role, the casting lady, through brilliant deduction, worked out this solution.
Chinese actor + Black face paint + collegiate sweater with the letter B (for black probably)= African Man.
So they turned this guy:
Into this dude:
Fun fact: When he first puts on blackface, the music changes from the usual Chinese melodramatic tune, to a hip hop beat.
Wow, much conceptual integrity.
And, what was this use of blackface for? Was it perhaps an insightful look into the harsh reality of minority roles being taken up by the majority.
Nope! It was for a gag.
Where the Chinese lady (Kym Ng) bumps into an African man and is scared because he is big and black.
So much Lolz!
Despite local productions caricaturing other minorities (think cross-dressing or exaggerated gesticulating), there are some negative aspects to blackface.
The entire history of blackface takes up more than a century, so we won’t delve too deep into it.
But the crux of the problem is that minority culture and identity becomes nothing more than a caricature, and a figure of mockery by the majority.
And it isn’t just a black thing. *Insert colour* face applies for more fair skinned Asians as well.
This is white American actor, Mickey Rooney, pretending to be Asian.
That was in 1961.
This is in 2016.
Top image from Toggle