Saturday, August 3, 2013

G-Dragon's 'blackface' IG photo draws controversy

By JONATHAN HICAP, Manila Bulletin
Big Bang's leader G-Dragon has courted controversy over his Instagram photo that showed him wearing black face paint and a hoodie that resembled the image of teen Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed in Florida last year. said, "But this time G-Dragon might have gone too far. As with Frank Ocean, Diddy, the-Dream, and others after news of Martin's shooting death broke last year, the K-pop idol wears what looks like a hoodie (though may be a T-shirt pulled up over his head), in apparent tribute to Martin. But he's also wearing black face paint."
G-Dragon's controversial photo (left) (Photos courtesy of G-Dragon's Instagram and

The blackface issue has dogged the Korean entertainment industry in the past with overseas fans slamming celebrities for being racist because they wore blackface makeup.
Last year, TV station MBC issued an apology after comedians Lee Kyung Shil and Kim Ji Sun wore black makeup to parody the cartoon character Michol on the show "Quiz that Changes the World."
In 2010, Kikwang of boy band BEAST pretended to be an African American by wearing a black makeup on the TV show "Hot Brothers."
G-Dragon posted the photo last July 30 with the caption "X" and has since been liked by 107,000 people and has accumulated 10,800 comments, mostly supporting the singer.
A blogger for "Oh No They Didn't" wrote, "I demand an apology from GDragon for the bastardization of sensitive American issues, and for being in blackface for the THIRD TIME."
Years ago, G-Dragon wore dark makeup as a tribute to American rapper Andre 3000 for Vogue Korea.
The Los Angeles Times music blog "Pop & Hiss" said G-Dragon may have had good intentions in his attempted homage to Trayvor Martin. But a photo shared by the Big Bang front man had the exact opposite effect. The problem? G-Dragon took the photo while wearing blackface makeup."
It added, "While the photo seems unfathomably offensive to U.S. eyes, it might be a grim cultural misunderstanding. While blackface has long been discarded as offensive and ridiculous in modern American society, its ugly history may not be as well known among young Koreans."
The blog said the photo "can't be doing any favors for Big Bang as they make inroads into Western hip-hop and R&B audiences."
"But let it be a lesson to any global superstar trying to show some sympathy for Martin -- rallies, boycotts and calls for justice are just fine. Blackface makeup is not," it said.
A G-Dragon representative sent a response to to say that it was a "huge misunderstanding."
"GD was simply wearing different facepaint colors and this is a HUGE misunderstanding. The facepaint is only a color variation for his album cover which includes black, white, and red. It is in no way meant to be a political or racial statement," quoted the representative's email.
"It’s being derived by a simple photo shoot where GD was using different facepaint colors for his upcoming album," the representative added and said the's reporting of the photo "is completely wrong and taken out of context."
Link to my original article on Manila Bulletin online:

To contact the author, send email to sangchusan(at)

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