It is often said an online argument can start by simply posting a comment on any social media and waiting, but when a Japanese comedian named Hamada dressed up as Eddie Murphy, with ‘blackface’ so extensive that brown makeup was put inside his ears, the internet lit on fire.
Masatoshi Hamada, one half of the comedy duo Downtown, sported the costume for a parody of the Eddie Murphy film “Beverly Hills Cop” during his variety show’s New Year’s Eve special, which was shown on Japanese national TV.
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US-writer and columnist Baye McNeil started the argument on Twitter, arguing that black people were "not a punchline nor a prop".
"Need a black actor, get a black actor that speaks Japanese."
Even though many said that Hamada simply was trying to portray Eddie Murphy’s character as correctly as possible, Mr McNeil went on to say that his fear was that Japan would never change this ‘blackfacing’ of actors and that during the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, "Japan naively sends a Blackface doowop group out to pay homage to black athletes. What a fiasco that'll be! So I implore you please #stopblackfaceJapan now."
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="nl"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Note to japanese performing in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlackFace?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BlackFace</a>: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Blackness?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Blackness</a> 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 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StopBlackfaceJapan?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StopBlackfaceJapan</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/%E6%97%A5%E6%9C%AC%E3%81%A7%E3%83%96%E3%83%A9%E3%83%83%E3%82%AF%E3%83%95%E3%82%A8%E3%82%A4%E3%82%B9%E6%AD%A2%E3%82%81%E3%81%A6?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#日本でブラックフエイス止めて</a> not a good look! <a href="https://t.co/lN0E3bWsgY">pic.twitter.com/lN0E3bWsgY</a></p>— Baye McNeil (@Locohama) <a href="https://twitter.com/Locohama/status/947455021645381632?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">31 december 2017</a></blockquote>
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The stereotypical portrayal of foreigners on Japanese TV is in fact nothing new, both Japanese airline ANA and electronics giant Toshiba have had to pull their TV ads in the past when viewers took offence.