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Mediacorp issues double apology after ‘blackface’ scene in drama offends viewers

Shane Pow in 'blackface'

Shane Pow in I Want To Be A Star; image: Coconuts Singapore

Mediacorp’s YouTube-like video streaming platform Toggle has deleted a scene from an episode of a popular drama series after accusations of racism.

The scene from the series I Want To Be A Star in question features actor Shane Pow dressed in an afro wig and wearing ‘blackface’ make up.

Toggle apologised, pinning the following post on Twitter, after an outcry in social media, but the apology has not been deemed sincere by many people voicing their views in social media.

Toggle says sorry

Some took issue with the wording of Mediacorp’s apology, as the company appeared to be saying that ‘blackface’ can only be perceived to be racist by some viewers.

Toggle tweet blackface

One local Twitter user took aim at their country’s carefully guarded reputation as a racially harmonious utopia.

Twitter toggle

Another accused the broadcaster of double standards because of its position on reporting on LGBT issues. Mediacorp, like other media outlets in Singapore, are forbidden from portraying homosexuality as a “positive lifestyle choice”.

Mediacorp tweet

However, Mediacorp has moved to adjust its position as the outcry has unfolded this afternoon, and the story has started to get attention from international news outlets.

Mediacorp explained to Mumbrella that the scene was part of the storyline in the show, featuring a bit-part actor who has his face painted black to try to fulfil the role of an African-American character.

A statement from Anil Nihalani, who runs Toggle as Mediacorp’s head of connected media, said:

We’re sorry for the blackface portrayal. We take race-related issues very seriously and that portrayal should not have happened. We’ve removed the offensive scenes from the programme and will ensure something like that doesn’t happen again.

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