Singaporean YouTuber Preetipls is facing massive backlash after uploading an extremely offensive rap video targeting Chinese Singaporeans. The video parodies Iggy Azalea's F*ck It Up and the lyrics were changed to insulting words. It was made as a response to an ad for E-Pay SG (a government-initiative) in which local actor Dennis Chew, who is of Chinese ethnicity, posed in different roles including as a hijabi and a man named K. Muthusamy, suggesting Indian heritage. Naturally, this advertisement received heavy criticism and was accused of brownface, which is impersonation of people with brown skin tones.
Credit: @RubyThiagarajan (twitter.com)
But Preetipls' video is also equally condemned by the general public and the Singaporean government. "When you use four-letter words, vulgar language, attack another race, put it out in public, we have to draw the line," says Singapore Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam in an interview with Channel News Asia.
However, some say that Preetipls' video, offensive and wrong as it is, shed light on an important issue in Singapore. People also noted that before the YouTube star's video, the government didn't really discuss or acknowledge that the E-Pay ad was insensitive to the minorities living in Singapore. YouTube user SG Stop commented, "Prior to Preetipls releasing the video, none of the Ministers had anything to say about the distasteful ad that was clearly insensitive to the racial minorities. But today, we had both K Shanmugam and Grace Fu comment on how it was indeed distasteful. Does it take a provocative video for these Ministers to respond?"
It's not the first time a brand was called out for practising brownface in Southeast Asia. Another notable example happened in the Philippines not too long ago when local beauty line SkinWhite released a campaign featuring identical twins Marianne and Martha Bibal. One maintained her natural, fair complexion while the other was made to look darker. The brand then captioned the ad with "Dark or white, you are beautiful." To the critics, the brand responded that they were simply showing how one can be beautiful no matter what your skin tone is. However, their excuse still wasn't enough to persuade the public and the ad went down as one of the most notorious examples of brownface in the country.
But the silver lining, amidst all the chaos, is that discussions are finally being done to address this issue. In the end, an inclusive dialogue is the first step towards ending this insensitive practice once and for all.