I have only one problem with Japanese people in blackface: it’s totally inexcusably awful. I hate to be shrill about this, and outrage in this case feels like almost like a cliche, but how many more of these are we going to have to see?
Let’s assume for a minute that this sudden rash of Japanese blackface in the wake of Obama’s presidency is well-intentioned. Comedians and yuksters want to look like Obama, so they darken their faces. Does no one know that this is not okay outside of Japan? And more to the point, do people understand that putting these images on the internet means that non-Japanese will view them and say, wow, this Japanese man in blackface in imitation of Obama is a total bummer and a blight on the Japanese nation?
Obama will be president for at least four years, if not more. Someone needs to drop the hint now — in some kind of well-orchestrated national campaign — that Japanese comedians and actors can’t do their Obama imitations in blackface (or even worse, crappy blackface) for the entire span of the Obama administration. Otherwise, this problem is only going to get worse.
Spike Lee’s Bamboolzed is not his greatest work, but it definitively tackles the core issues at the heart of the blackface debate. (Wait, is this even a “debate”? You just are not supposed to do blackface in contemporary global society. Case closed.) Can we send a boatload of Region 2 DVDs of this film over here and pass them out?
I leave you with hopefully one of the last examples of Japan’s Blackface Era: a truly terrible Obama in blackface and fuzzy black wig in the world of Super Mario.