On December 31, 2011, Saturday Night Live (SNL) Korea featured a skit of the Dreamgirls in which the actresses painted their skin to look African American. This is blackface, regardless of its intentions.
Lorne Michaels, as the executive producer and founder of the flagship SNL it is your job to know what is going on in the other companies that have taken on your namesake to pay homage to what you have spent years building and perfecting. When unfortunate situations like this occur and people take notice, it will not only have a negative impact on the image of SNL Korea but on the SNL brand as a whole. International fans have already started to take a stand against this by tweeting Korean producers, artists, MC’s, and anyone else we can think of in the Korean Entertainment Industry. While this is not the first instance of black face on television in Korea, we are actively working to educate people involved in the industry on the racist history of black face. The only way to accomplish this goal is to bring awareness and make SNL Korea understand that what they are doing is in no way funny and is highly racially insensitive.
In light of Korea’s international success in the field of entertainment and media, there should be some sort of awareness amongst Korean producers that their actions and portrayals are now viewed and judged on an international level. This being said, any materials that are distributed to the public should be done so with the understanding that they may offend and perpetuate stereotypes of other ethnic groups. In the case of blackface, there is no argument that it is offensive and harmful to African Americans. Skits such as this should not be taken lightly, and accepted as a simple “joke”.
As the SNL flagship, we are petitioning you to address this skit, to help us garner an apology, and to take steps to prevent this from happening again.
Blackface was created to further dehumanize, ridicule, and scandalize the way African- Americans were and are portrayed. On top of being enslaved, they were made fun of horrendously. Women were either over-sexualized [Jezebels] or stripped of all sexuality [Mammy]. And men were painted as dogs- lower than animals who could only be saved by the white man, and this was an American pastime along with lynching. White folks would kill African-Americans and then go to the theater watch blackface minstrel shows.
I find it disturbing and grossly irresponsible that a SNL NBC would lend their namesake and allow this to occur. It doesn’t matter the intentions SNL Korea; You cannot reclaim black-face and try to make it “good.” Please understand the racial and oppressive implications of blackface.
Blackface equals oppression and perpetuation of stereotypes.
“Displays of ignorance like [….] use of blackface simply hurt Korea. They prove the assumptions of the outside world that Koreans are close-minded and racist. […….. ]My only point is that in a truly internationalized and globalized culture, the people who should know better would simply know not to do things like this.”
South Korea CAN and DOES identify racism/insensitivity towards culture;
An incident occurred in which three of the members of a band pulled their eyes upward to appear “Korean,” saying they were trying to look like the K-Pop artists they were into at the time. This was very racially insensitive and the Korean media and Korean fans were very offended. They had every right to be—they were, essentially, mocking a characteristic largely considered to be Korean for the sake of acting cute or funny and that was not okay.
So if the South Korean media and public can identify racism and racial insensitivity when against themselves, why can’t they tell that painting your skin to look “black,” for the sake of entertainment is offensive? A person’s ethnicity should never be considered comedic material. Ever.
SNL Korea is using the namesake of an American creation; being such the SNL flagship is very aware of the racially oppressive history of blackface it should of concern that their name is being associated with this grossly racist act.
We ask that the SNL flagship address this issue to garner an apology to international fans and that they take the steps to make sure this never happens again.