Welcome to the 21st century Malaysia, where we still uphold archaic beliefs.
This week, the interwebz was all abuzz with Watson’s star-studded #LegendaCun (we can’t even) Raya ad that backfired spectacularly. It’s almost 15-minutes of your life you’ll never get back, so spare yourself with our summary.
Inspired by a Malay folklore of one Dayang Senandung, we are regaled with the story of a rich merchant named Al-Kazam who seeks a bride. Many women vie for his attention (mmhmm) but one captured his heart with her beautiful singing voice. When she reveals herself, he is shocked to find that her skin is as black as night. He chooses her anyway, and she reveals herself yet again, this time with fair skin – she had washed her blackface off. It was all a test of his sincerity, and he passed! She’s beautiful after all! The video ends with literally this quote: “Only at Watson’s you’ll be beautiful”.
When it went viral and not in a way that clients love, Watson’s quickly deleted the video and issued a #sorrynotsorry statement.
When that backfired, they posted a real apology.
All caught up now? But if you simply must, you can watch the video here:
Local celebrities vamp up Watsons Raya commercialWatsons Malaysia has launched a digital movie of epic proportions. “Legenda Cun” – which features a stellar cast of local leading celebrities to welcome the celebration.The digital movie is a throwback to the glorious days of Malay cinematography, drawing inspiration from P.Ramlee movies. Fronted by leading actor Kamal Adli, it also stars Ruhainnies, Amber Chia, Thanuja Ananthan, Nadine Ann Thomas and Sasha Saidin; it can now be viewed on Watsons Malaysia’s official Facebook and Youtube channels.Customer director Danny Hoh said, “This year we offer something different and unique that is relevant for all. This epic movie was carefully scripted to inject Watsons brand identity to include humour, wit and also over the top acting and characters.”During the Raya period, customers and Watsons VIP members can look forward to discounts up to 50%, and purchase fun and colourful pop art Raya canisters for only RM12.53 each.In addition, the health and beauty retailer will be giving away RM20,000 worth of prizes for 30 days between June 15 and July 14. VIP members who spend RM100 and above get automatic entry and stand to win daily prizes. Winners will be announced every Tuesday on Watsons Malaysia Facebook.
Posted by The Rakyat Post on 6hb Jun 2017
While netizens were all up in arms, some of the celebrities involved in this video were puzzled by the reactions. Thanuja Ananthan said that it was “honestly done in good faith and spirit of fun based on traditional fairy tales” while Kamal Adli who played the lead, responded that he was just following the script.
You know, when black people were kept as slaves, the white people did it in good faith too, right? That’s why they called it the white man’s burden. And Nazi soldiers were also just being told what to do, even if it meant killing people. #justsaying
Those are extreme examples, but good intentions can sometimes be very horribly misplaced, with horrific results.
But, we’re not accusing Watson’s, the production crew, or the stars of racism. On the contrary, this is the epitome of how we all can have our heads stuck so far up our asses, we can’t even take a step back and look at a bigger picture that isn’t the insides of our colon. And a similar incident happened not even one year ago, but no one seemed to have taken a cue from that – see: Yuna-Usher blackface on Astro’s MeleTOP.
What does this all mean? The creative industry is so insular, so packed with like-minded people that we can’t see things from a different, mass point of view which is everybody else in the whole damn world. We’re pretty sure that every single person who worked on this Watson’s video are nice people in real life. But they made some very miscalculated, misjudged moves that have earned them the award of “most hated people on the Malaysian internet space” for the moment.
Meanwhile, young and impressionable girls everywhere will take their own cue from this video – fair equals beautiful, as women have been told for centuries. For the love of God, can we stop this rhetoric already?
In other viral news, Malaysia made it to international headlines yet again for you guessed it – the wrong reasons. Our government offered a cash prize of up to USD1,000 for the best video on how to “prevent homosexuality”, which a result of “gender confusion”. Submissions have to show the “consequences” of being LGBT as well as how to “prevent, control and [offer] ways to seek help”.
Their competition callout ironically looked like a gay pride poster.
They have since dropped the category, but not after defending it as a way to encourage creativity. Hmm.
Can you tell a dog not to bark? Can you ask the sun to stop shining?
Can a politician not be corrupt?
In more positive news, comedian Dr. Jason Leong collaborated with GRIM FILM to launch their own video competition.
Send us a 3-min video that supports the LGBT community and the best one wins a cash prize of USD1001! Contest details…
This may or may not be in response to the Health Ministry, but it pays better! We highly recommend aspiring filmmakers to submit for Dr. Jason’s and Grim Film’s contest instead, and we look forward to seeing really creative works!
See also: Much Ado About Wonder Woman’s Armpit
From racism, blackface, and homophobia to feminism: get caught up on Wonder Woman’s hairy situation here.