Played by fellow Youtuber Ridhwan Azman, who portrayed Ismail Mohammed in the first two instalments of Ah Boys To Men, Peter Papadum regularly turns up with prata-making antics that strike a comedic chord with the audience. And despite being a supporting cast in most JianHao Tan videos, Peter Papadum somehow steals the scene every time he appears, and has since become recognisable to the Youtube-watching audience of Singapore.
But it seems that things have come to an end. After years of entertaining Youtube audiences…
The endearing character of Peter Papadum has been retired.
JianHao Tan Retired an Indian Character Played by a Malay; Apologises for Not Being Sensitive Enough
On 1 June 2020, self-proclaimed Singapore Youtube sensation JianHao Tan posted a lengthy, thought-provoking entry on the social media platform Instagram, in which he announced the retirement of fan favourite character Peter Papadum, as well as the reason behind it.
According to him, Peter Papadum was a character developed in Tan’s early years of Youtube, and came during a time when he could not afford to “have a team or pay other actors yet”.
As such, Azman was drafted in to play the character, even though ethnic status differed.
He then recognises the notion that Azman is also playing other characters, including awkward Chinese character Ren Yi Xiang. However, it was different in the sense that Peter Papadum adopted “caricature-like qualities that exploit racial stereotypes”, while Ren Yi Xiang “merely appears as a name”.
He also touched on the issue of oppression, stating that Chinese people in Singapore “do not deal with the same oppression as minority races”, and that he never “meant to put a certain race under a bad light”.
Realising that the character portrayal of Peter Papadum might have been insensitive in nature, he decided that the team could have done better, and so chose to retire the long-running character.
“However, now, as I grow and learn more, I will be more sensitive to how I portray certain races, and I apologize for not understanding the implications of this and I will not make the same mistake again,” he wrote.
Tan also states that he has a “responsibility to educate” his “young and impressionable audiences”, before ending the post via an apology to Singaporean minorities, who might’ve been hurt by “any of” his jokes.
You can view the full Instagram post down below:
View this post on Instagram
When I first started out on YouTube with my best friend, we created some characters because we were only a 2 people team. Peter Papadum was one of these characters and the storyline is that PP and JianHao have a long history of banter and putting each other in tough spots. This was a time where we couldn’t afford to have a team or pay other actors yet. Among other characters, Ridhwan also plays other characters like an awkward Chinese boy Ren Yi Xiang but I understand the difference. PP adopts caricature-like qualities that exploit racial stereotypes, while Ren Yi Xiang merely appears as a name. Furthermore, Chinese people in SG do not deal with the same oppression as other minority races. I’ve never meant to put a certain race under a bad light. After some reflection, I realized it was insensitive and we could have done it better. I will no longer have that character anymore. I try my best to include as many races in my videos, among the characters, we have a Malay principal, a Chinese cleaner, an Indian teacher. I do not give actors roles based on their color of their skin. I give it to them based on their ability to portray a role. However, now, as I grow and learn more, I will be more sensitive to how I portray certain races, and I apologize for not understanding this implications of this and I will not make the same mistake again. I realise now that to enact change to dismantle racism it has to begin at home, and with those who have a voice. As an influencer and content creator with a following, I have a responsibility to educate my young and impressionable audiences. To the Singaporean minorities I’ve hurt with any of my jokes, I apologize.
Responses Prove Mixed
After Tan’s post went viral, Netizens took to the comments section to air their opinions.
And as it turns out, it’s quite mixed.
While some professed an increased level of respect for Tan after the announcement…
Others felt that Tan’s removal of the character could have come at an earlier timing.
Though one consensus seems to be in place:
Peter Papadum was well-liked, and he’ll be missed.
Goodbye, Peter Papadum.
With that said, the issue of racism has been especially prevalent in recent times. A while back, a white police officer in the United States had kneeled on the neck of a black man, which led to the latter’s eventual death.
Protests have since swept the nation, with razing and looting incidents commonplace among certain areas, including the police station that’s affiliated with the incident.
Donald Trump has called an end to the violence, and threatened to impose a violent countermeasure if things do not improve.
A social media trend, which prompts users to post a fully-black picture in support of the deceased black man, George Floyd, has also been making its rounds on the net.