Preeti, Pls Keep It The F*ck Up! From Layman To Layman
About brownface, public holidays, and the “apuhneneh”s who will steal your children. Rude!
If you have not already heard about it for the six hundredth time, E-payment firm Nets and creative agency Havas Worldwide Singapore recently released a government-backed advertisement in poor taste depicting a Chinese actor in “brownface”.
In a multiracial and multicultural country such as Singapore, why they had to do this is perplexing. It is astonishing how this idea went from conception to production with no one in that entire process chain saying, “hold the **** up, this is racist and offensive, let’s just actually cast a Malay and Indian person instead of painting our Chinese actor brown”. Let that sink in. No one person from the client or the creative team realised that they were actively creating something disgusting.
Maybe these are the same people who tell their kids that the “Apunehneh will come and catch you if you don’t behave”. Also, please stop ingraining innocent kids with the notion that Indians want to kidnap them, it’s neither physically nor financially viable to raise your own child in Singapore’s economic climate let alone a random one that you kidnap.
For those of you who don’t know, brownface is a “variant of blackface, involving ethnic impersonation of people with brown skin including Latin people, darker-skinned South Asians, non-white Middle-Easterners, or non-white Latinos.”
I’m going to end the ‘brownface’ commentary here because I’m calling it what it is: racist, offensive and deeply ignorant. It could only be the pet project of a certain bigoted breed of people.
Let’s talk about Preetipls and her brother/talented rapper Subhas.
Their bold and aggressive rap video (which has been taken down because people complain police) was released as a satirical response to the government-backed “brownface” ad.
Long story short, a group of people got offended by this and made a police report, thus reaffirming the Singaporean saying of “Not happy, complain police ah!”. While it is within a citizen’s right to make a police report for what that individual might deem worthy of an investigation, let’s take a closer look at the video.
It starts straight to the point, “Fck it up sis, keep fcking it up. Chinese people always out here f*cking it up”. Now, if you’ve followed her music videos or just videos in general, you will realise that a large part of the comedic element lies in the subtitles which sometimes don’t reflect the lyrics accurately. In this case, the word “racist” was added before the word “Chinese”. For those of you who can read (this is apparently a rarer skill than I thought) and understand the English language (even rarer), it expands to “Racist Chinese people out here fcking it up”, i.e. to say, the folks behind the “brownface” ad messed up.
Pretty straight forward you’d think, but people still took offence, why? “Is it because you (racist) Chinese!?”.
The rap continues with “This ain’t no joke, Stop trying to buat bodoh, Cos ya’ll huat huat huat that time, You never jio!”. She’s essentially saying, how could a government-backed ad initiative and Mediacorp actor-cum-DJ Dennis Chew, portray characters of other races by wearing a tudung and darkening his skin. What were they thinking? Or maybe the brown face paint impeded the actor’s ability to think and realise what a monumentally stupid decision he was making. Also, why were Malay and Indian actors not “jio-ed” or called upon to fill in the obvious gaps that needed to be filled. I’m sure they had the budget for multiple actors, but hey, why hire more when you can just paint the one guy you have. #CutCost #NoBudgetLahBro
Fast forward and we have the lyrics, “They tryna’ steal our shit everyday, C.M.I.O means.. Cancel minority is OK!” and “We lost all our enclaves, And our holy days”. Alright, I’ll concede this could apply to a broad number of situations depending on where you stand. But let’s use a nationwide example, public holidays! We all love them, and live for them, besides the weekend.
Did you know that up until 1969, Hindus had two public holidays: Deepavali and Thaipusam?
One of which had to be cut because of the need to compete in the global market after our version of Brexit. Basically, we were having too much fun with too many public holidays, and everyone had to give up something, fair right?
Fast forward to 2019 and these are the ethnic holidays that we have.
Chinese folks get two days of Chinese New Year, note that this is not a religious holiday, i.e. to say, if you’re a Chinese Muslim you get four holidays, Chinese Hindus get three holidays, Chinese Buddhists get three holidays and Chinese Christians get four holidays.
Malay folks get two days of Hari Raya(s) which are Muslim holidays. Indians get Deepavali, a Hindu holiday and Vesak Day, a Buddhist holiday. Anyone with common sense would see the flaw in this allocation simply because Vesak Day should not be classified as an “Indian holiday”. It does not only rob a minority group of a rightful holiday, but it also gives a majority group an extra day. How many years has this been happening!? #LostCountAlready
BTW for those of you who don’t know, C.M.I.O actually stands for Chinese, Malay, Indians, and Others.
Lastly in ends with the siblings talking, “And now Mediacorp got paid by the government to do brownface..?! Ya man they always say govt. initiative. But the govt. no initiative” and “OK ah disclaimer!! Not all Chinese people are racist. Only the racist ones ah ;)”.
I would think this dialogue is pretti in your face (brown or otherwise). And she does end by saying that obviously, not all Chinese people are racist, only the racist ones are. It is my belief that this statement applies to everyone, and to quote from Rice Media, “If the Preetipls Video Caused Any Damage, It Was Only By Revealing How Stupid Chinese People Are“.
If you ever have doubts over racial privilege, congratulations, you’re probably not in a minority group. Talk to your friends who are not from the same race, have conversations about how the colour of their skin has had an impact on their daily lives, and maybe with open communication and better understanding, we can all learn a little more about each other.
My speech ends here, but I hope yours will continue until we reach a point where we have spoken so much about this that we can finally stop.
#KickOutCasualRacism2099? We can only hope!