In the past, Gag Concert has come under fire for using blackface in their comedy routines, but they may not be at fault this time.
On Reddit, a user recently accused Gag Concert of using blackface in a skit, before going on to mention Korea’s alleged “ism” problem.
Historically, blackface has been a form of theatrical makeup used by non-black performers, often comedians, to portray a caricature of a black person. It has contributed to the spread of racial stereotypes, and is considered both offensive and harmful.
These days, any performers who partake in blackface are met with instant backlash and criticism.
When taken out of context, anyone might agree that this comedian is guilty of blackface, but there is more to this photo than meets the eye.
In truth, this comedian was cosplaying an anime character from the 1978 anime series Galaxy Express 999.
The Conductor is an alien with an invisible body that is shown as being entirely black, like a shadow. Only his eyes can be seen while he is wearing his conductor uniform.
As several Redditors pointed out, painting one’s skin black to cosplay an invisible, non-human anime character who is literally black is not the same as doing it to portray black people. This means that the comedian is not guilty of doing blackface in this situation.
After learning more, the original poster acknowledged that their assumption had been based on personal experiences and not the context. Even so, InfamousCut claimed that seeing the comedian’s painted face would still make them cringe, even with the knowledge that there is no “malicious intent” behind it.
Although this incident is not an example of blackface, the Redditor’s assumption is understandable. Blackface and other forms of racism are an ongoing issue in Korea.
Last year, Gag Concert received backlash for this promotional flyer that showed actors doing blackface.
Another gag show, People Looking for a Laugh, was called out for airing an offensive episode that featured performers in full blackface makeup and tribal clothes.
Although racism is still prevalent in Korea, there is an ongoing conversation about cultural sensitivity and awareness that will hopefully end blackface (and all other racially insensitive behaviour) in the near future.