Kids (and, surprisingly, babies) nowadays have their hands on smartphones, tablets, computers, and/or gaming systems with social media sharing. They’re exposed to much more information than I ever was when I was a kid! (I’m a post-millennial, by the way.)
My initial reaction to the Capital Gazette shootings on June 28, 2018 (before the shooter was identified): “Is this a ‘Charlie Hebdo-like’ attack on American soil?” Yesterday (July 2), I saw the video below and was shocked to hear what Jim Cavanaugh said about the shooter: he was posting tweets about Charlie Hebdo (4:14).
It’s been ages since I last wrote on my blog. I’m so happy to return to my blog.
I’m going to be posting at least once a week starting today. It won’t be hard for me to follow that schedule this year since I’ve been more active online.
Late in January, I came across a trending topic on Twitter called the “knitemaya controversy” and got involved in an argument with some users.
Basically, knitemaya is a cosplayer who got criticized for skin-darkening and eye-taping.
Just in case some of you aren’t familiar with some of the terms I used, here are some definitions:
- cosplayer: someone who puts together a costume of a Japanese (anime or manga) character
- eye-taping: the act of pulling back one’s eyes by taping around the temples or near the ears
Some cosplayers simply dress up like their favorite Japanese characters while others go to the extent of looking like those 2D characters.
The extent to which cosplayers modify their physical appearance is often a debatable topic in the cosplay community.
I’m not a cosplayer nor am I into cosplaying. Plus, it’s been a long time since I last watched anime (about 6 years at least). So I was really surprised to learn about knitemaya on my Twitter feed.
knitemaya is a pretty popular cosplayer for his amazing costumes, makeup, photoshoots, and other fan activities.
Moreover, not to long ago, his popularity surged when he cosplayed a character from the anime “Devilman: Crybaby”.
That show became so mainstream as soon as Netflix announced that it’s going to be their first original anime series.
The series became available online early January, and has attracted a large following mostly due to its unique art style and music, and partly due to the fact that it’s a spin-off of the original Devilman story (1972).
I found out about the controversy through seeing Twitter posts about “Devilman: Crybaby” because “popular cosplayer” + “popular anime series” = “lots of conversations and related content recommendations”.
When I first heard about the knitemaya controversy, I had no idea that racism was an issue in the cosplay community. Also, I was aware that certain cosplayers are popular because of their looks, photoshoot gigs, “extravagant” costumes, ability to travel to near and far events, etc. etc.
Some of the posts I saw about the controversy mentioned how it’s wrong to represent another race by changing your skin tone. One example of cultural appropriation people liked to mention is black-facing – the act of changing one’s skin color to look like an African (or African American).
Black-facing was done in Japan by comedians and singers for entertainment-purposes, and not always with the intention of being racist.
Those that defend skin-darkening/lightening say that there’s nothing wrong with doing that as long as there are no racist intentions behind the actions and permission is granted from someone who represents the culture that is being mimicked.
On the other hand, those that are against those practices say that it’s wrong to represent a large population or culture that one is not a part of, regardless of how many permissions one got, or how not-racist or culturally-informed he or she is.
On Twitter, I wrote some posts regarding the controversy in an argumentative thread:
I mentioned some pretty valid points, but think I was pretty mediocre at debating. (I wasn’t even debating, LOL. I guess I was in the middle of bringing up my argument.)
You can find the original thread on my Twitter. I don’t know if some of the posts within the thread are still there because the user I was talking to is kinda known for deleting posts and blocking people (or so what I’ve heard).
knitemaya apologized for eye-taping, but people aren’t buying his apology because they think he’s still doing it.
I don’t know what to think of his apology. I don’t know too much about him (I don’t follow his social media) to judge his apology.
I can see why eye-taping by non-Asians is disrespectful to Asians; because it’s similar to making a chinky-eye face.
Do I think it’s racist? Hmmm… I don’t know. I’m 50/50 on this one.
Moreover, I don’t completely agree and disagree that changing one’s skin color is racist.
Before I learned about the blackfacing culture, I knew about the Japanese ganguro culture. That culture involves girls (gyaru) who darken their skins to either look tan or brown while maintaining a colorful appearance and sometimes wearing a school-girl outfit (kogyaru)
Some (not all) of those girls gather inspiration from African females, especially American R&B and hip-hop artists.
Yeah, it’s shocking to see Asian girls so dark, right?
Why? You know there are Asians that are dark. Not all Asians have porcelain-white skin.
The girls in the picture above (SNSD Girls’ Generation) are Korean idols who, like many other Korean idols, conform to the Korean standards of beauty by doing physical changes like whitening their skin.
Those who adhere to Korean or Asian beauty standards see those girls as beautiful, not as people who are trying to look white. Moreover, since the vast majority of the media identifies light skin tones as beautiful, you and others find the picture of SNSD to be more appealing than the picture of ganguros. (Am I right? Right?)
Scroll back up and look at the image of the blackfaced Japanese man again. There’s not much context in the image, but… Is he really racist for darkening his skin? What if he admires dark skin tones? How dark is too dark? Can’t the media embrace dark skin tones more by showing more people like him and/or ganguros?
This woman is a Korean rapper called Jessie. She grew up in New Jersey and, obviously, loves hip hop. She fights Korea’s (and the world’s) light-skinned beauty standard with her unnatural skin tan.
Similar to Jessie, CL is sometimes seen with an unnatural skin tan. She grew up traveling to various countries like Japan and France, and in turn became “globally-minded” – someone who explores new perspectives.
You can’t tell that CL and Jessie are English-speakers just by looking at them, and they certainly don’t look like the average Korean citizen and idol.
Okay, this blog post is super long. I didn’t imagine it’d be this long.
Anyways, to end this post, here’s a random yet not-so-random fact: Ne-Yo is a Blasian (Black and Asian). You can’t just judge people’s feelings towards a race by their appearance; you gotta try to look at the actions, mentality and appearance.
Lastly (and most importantly), you can say, do, and/or think wrongful things, but that doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person as long as you understand what was wrong and shape yourself to become more mindful of others. Even if you didn’t intend to be hurtful or wrongful, it doesn’t hurt to be mindful of the black, gray and white.
The man above is PewDiePie – the most popular YouTuber. He accidentally mentioned some racist things, but released some amazing videos in response to how the media and viewers reacted to his racist comments. Here is one of his videos: