Long debate on national television ensues.

Masatoshi Hamada is already famous in Japan for being one half  of the extremely popular comedy duo Downtown (he’s also the mane behind this goofy impersonation of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu) but the veteran comedian has made a recent blunder that’s getting him much less positive attention overseas.

During a New Year’s Eve segment on variety TV program Gaki no Tsukai, Hamada painted his face black to impersonate Eddie Murphy’s character in a parody of the 1984 movie, Beverly Hills Cop, drawing widespread condemnation in the process.

The other member of Downtown, Hitoshi Matsumoto (who is also a regular cast member on Gaki no Tsukai), spoke up during a debate about the incident with newscaster Yuko Ando.

Matsumoto: “I have a lot of things to say regarding this issue, but it’s too much of a hassle. Yamada’s terrible. Just hang him out to dry. Exile him from the country. Were there costumes in the changing room? It’s his fault for not turning down the proposal (of the Eddie Murphy impersonation).”

Ando: “I think it was going well until the impersonation. That bit was meant to make viewers laugh but was taken as racial discrimination instead.”

Matsumoto: “I told Hamada we should knock on Eddie Murphy’s door and apologize to him.”

Ando: “Hamada’s take on Eddie Murphy was interesting, and since some foreigners may be sensitive to things like skin color, it came off as making fun of black people. America had famous blackface singing groups (black minstrels) in the past, and it wasn’t a problem then because they were singing. When that’s put into the context of comedy, it becomes a different issue.”

▼ Wait, you guys are trying not to offend people, right?

Also present in the discussion was music producer Maiko Fukushima, who added a few words of her own.

Maiko: “The symbolic blackface has always been condemned worldwide historically. People are now observing a global Japan. People in the television industry must now create programs from an international standpoint.”

Matsumoto: “The theme this time was the American police, and we did Eddy Murphy’s Beverly Hills Cop. The flow wasn’t bad at all… but Hamada was just horrible. And so I pondered over what we should do. We’re not full impersonators after all, and so we’ll just do our variety shows without blackface from now on. I want to establish a rule book with clear guidelines.”

Japanese comedians are great at making people laugh, but sometimes they forget that skin color is no laughing matter. The entire country is still leaps and bounds behind other developed countries in the embracing more racial diversity, as pointed out by a YouTuber in his parody video.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News/Sponichi Annex via Otakomu
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