Why Watson’s blackface advertisement sparked riot on the internet

By A.F.

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Youtube grab of the Watson's video that has been removed since then

The advert, portraying a young woman with a sweet voice clad in a scarf covering her face entirely only to reveal a black face behind it, sparked outrage on Twitter.

But the beauty chain advert was meant to show the ‘flawless’ face of the young woman while it portrayed a Malay folklore story known as Dayang Senandong” and is about a lady ‘cursed with black skin but blessed with a beautiful voice’.

It sparked furious allegations of racism against Hong Kong’s billionaire Li Ka Shing’s Watsons.

In the video, a wealthy man is haunted by the voice of a mystery woman.

He summons all of the ‘beauties’ in the region to come and audition for him.

He finally hears the voice that he has been dreaming of.

But when he pulls back her veil he recoils in shock to see her ‘black’ face.

‘Where are the lights?’ he asks, before saying in disbelief, ‘she is actually dark.’

The scene, approximately nine minutes into the video, has shocked audiences.

‘The video was shot to highlight the Legend and its moral values of inner beauty and that true love exist.’ the UK’s Daily Mail reported.

But this is the second time that a business in Malaysia has been in trouble over featuring a ‘blackfaced’ actor in an advert in recent years.

In 2014, a controversial insurance advert featured a ‘blackface’ domestic worker injuring herself around the house in an ad for Hong Leong Financial Group.

The company was also forced to withdraw that ad.

The Watsons advert featured Malaysian celebrities and it aimed to be a throwback to the glorious days of Malay cinematography, drawing inspiration from P.Ramlee movies.

It was fronted by leading actor Kamal Adli, and also starred Ruhainnies, Amber Chia, Thanuja Ananthan, Nadine Ann Thomas and Sasha Saidin.

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