Brownface was a hot topic in Singapore for the past few weeks.
Police were called, a well-known DJ & actor had to apologise, a singer was taken off a documentary and a public figure (BBW) was called names and adored at the same time.
Yup, safe to say, no one would ever dare to make that mist-
Wait, hold that thought. My inner BuffLord is telling me something.
WHAT? Nathan Hartono DID IT?
Oh boy, here we go again.
Nathan Hartono Did What?
This is Nathan Hartono.
This is also Nathan Hartono.
Woah, so handsum can.
Unfortunately, not everybody is looking at his fine, delicately-chiselled face. They’re more concerned about his skin tone.
The photo, which was uploaded by the man of the hour himself on 5 August, showed him looking visibly darker.
Netizens felt that he had deliberately darkened his skin to embody Freddie Mercury who is of Indian Parsi descent.
“Have you been living under a rock or something? Brownface is literally all we’ve been talking for the past 2-3 weeks man. Was it really necessary to darken your skin for this shoot just because Freddie Mercury had Indian roots?”
Nathan Hartono Said What?
Initially, Hartono did not respond to the criticisms. However, on 8 Aug, he uploaded a lengthy explanation on his Instagram account.
View this post on Instagram
I have avoided making a public statement about this because I did not feel the need to add more noise to a genuinely important conversation. It’s an exciting time right now because crucial discussions about racism, privilege, and freedom of speech are finally being had. This specific case, I feel, has been based off of kneejerk assumptions and anger. While I get how anything can be misconstrued due to perception…compared to the actual things we should be talking about, this is just noise. I didn’t wish to draw unnecessary attention to it. THAT BEING SAID, enough people have been calling me out, and I understand the frustration that comes with believing somebody has made a mistake, yet seemingly tries to sweep it under the rug. That hasn’t been the intention at all. I just didn’t want to open up another forum for people on either sides of the argument to sling hatred at each other, especially because a lot of the commentors are quite young and I feel a certain responsibility in protecting their stances, whether or not I agree. Cuz we all know how toxic the internet can be. I’m putting this up now because tbh I’m just kinda tired of trying to resolve this quietly. For the past few days I have been messaging all the commentors privately in hopes of bridging the gap of understanding. Unfortunately that hasn’t really been an effective way to deal with this because everyone wants answers, I get it, and sorry the explanation didn’t come sooner. Here is the DM I sent to everyone in it’s entirety, along with a few images that I hope will clear the air. Furthermore (and this is the defensive side of me speaking 😅) I’d like to add that Freddie Mercury, despite his roots, was not a particularly dark skinned person. Objectively speaking, why would so much trouble be put into the accuracy of the hair, the mustache, the outfit – only for my skin to then be supposedly “artificially darkened” a trait that Freddie himself did not possess? Spoiler alert – it’s because thats literally the color of my skin. • 🆃🅻;🅳🆁 This isn’t brownface. My face is just brown. Be nice to one another, love and kindness over anything else ❤️
Now, if you’re not able to read his full post (or just can’t be bothered)…
Here’s the TL; DR:
- He’s happy that Singapore is having a conversation on racism, privilege and freedom of speech
- The responses to his image were just kneejerk assumptions and reaction
- He didn’t darken his skin, his skin tone is naturally brown
- Be nice to each other
Makeup Artist Says What?
Now, if you don’t believe him, his make-up artist Manisa Tan has testified for him.
View this post on Instagram
As Nathan’s makeup artist for this spread, I would like to share the fact is that I did not darken his skin. Nathan is naturally-tanned and I want to clear the misconception about him being painted dark, which I as his makeup artist did nothing of. This spread came out during a sensitive period and things might have been casually linked, which is not the intention of the creative team behind this spread. Words hurt. I believe the strongest weapon is words, it can even start a war between one another. Let’s be more careful and sensitive with words, kindness make this place a greater place.
She asked for netizens to be careful with their words because, well, words hurt.
Well, that didn’t last as long as the other brownface saga.
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