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Malaysian Singer Apologises For 'Brownface' MV & Explains That It Was About Sunburnt Skin

In the music video, the female lead plays a brown-skinned high schooler, who is deemed as unattractive by her peers.

Cover image via @haorened (Instagram) & 朱浩仁Haoren (YouTube) via Johny's Channel (YouTube)

A music video portraying a brown-skinned woman who turns fair after consuming a beauty product given by a secret admirer is criticised for making dark-skinned people look inferior

In the almost five-minute long music video, Malaysian singer Choo Hao Ren (朱浩仁) can be seen singing a song about turning a brown-skinned woman fair while describing her as a 'white doll' — which is also the title of the song.

The brown-skinned woman is played by an influencer named Qiu Wen, who normally boasts fair skin in her Instagram photos.

However, in the music video, she paints her skin brown and portrays a high schooler who gets bullied for being tanned.

In one of the scenes, a canteen vendor speaks Bahasa Malaysia with Qiu Wen's character, which can be seen as a sign that she is mistaken as Malay.

It quickly prompts her schoolmates to laugh at her.

After getting bullied, Qiu Wen's character tries to use an easer to rub off her tanned skin.

Image via 朱浩仁Haoren (YouTube) via Johny's Channel (YouTube)

"I stare at your dark skin with admiration. I wonder if you mind," Choo begins singing

"Your dark forearms are bullied by the sun until you reach home. I am concerned, do you know?"

Choo, who plays a boy with a hero complex, then secretly gifts her 'nutritious' sachets that can turn her fair upon drinking.

The music video also includes unscientific skin-whitening tips, such as drinking soy milk to turn one's skin tone lighter by a few shades.

By the 60th day, Qiu Wen's character turns fair, winning praise from her friends who once bullied her.

Additionally, the song also uses homophonic word plays to make the term 'very white' in Chinese sound like the vulgar word for 'vagina' in Hokkien.

The music video is doubled as an advertisement for a skin-whitening product called Snowbebe.

Image via @haorened (Instagram)

The music video garnered almost 200,000 views within less than a day

Many netizens criticised Choo and his team for the racist music video and propagating antiquated ideals that fairness is beauty.

"Personally, I [find] this MV offensive, especially with the incredibly inappropriate use of tanned skin. Society has been trying to be prejudice-free and this MV creation [is] indirectly implying that fairer skin girls are more beautiful, [while] dark skin tones [are] inferior and less beautiful," read a comment.

"I think the team can create a better MV than going after such [an extreme] to gain publicity.

At the time of writing, the video was removed from YouTube.

Image via YouTube

"[Throughout] the entire production, a group of people saw this in motion and thought, 'hey this is a great idea?' It's 2021 la, please don't stupid can?" read a comment written on Choo's Instagram post, which has also been removed.

"Seems like school didn't teach y'all enough about cultural appropriation," added another.

"This is not ok it's 2021 y'all," said a person, while another asked, "Why the f*ck is there blackface in 2021?"

Image via Instagram

At 10am this morning, 26 January, Choo released an apology video, saying he is sorry for making his audience feel uncomfortable over the music video

In the seven-minute long video, Choo also took the opportunity to clarify that the character Qiu Wen played was dark from being sunburnt.

"By sharing this MV, I hope you know that my intention is to highlight the story and effects of sunburn. It was never my intention to touch on skin colours and racial sensitive topics," said the 32-year-old singer.

"If I have offended anyone, I sincerely apologise."

He also admitted that he was "immature" when producing the music video, adding that he will make the necessary edits to the song and share it with his audience in the future.

Choo said the new music video will not contain any offensive content.

The apology video made no mention that the music video was trying to equate fair skin with beauty nor did he apologise for propagating the misguided beauty standard.

Choo shared the lyrics of the song in the apology video in the hope that no one would misunderstand his intention.

Image via 朱浩仁Haoren (YouTube)

At the end of the apology video, Choo plays the song and includes the lyrics. Watch the video here:

Meanwhile, watch the original music video here.

To the brown girls out there, bring out your gorgeous skin tone with these products:

Listen to Nandini explain why one should never comment on someone's skin colour:

Similarly, other Malaysians have landed themselves in hot water for offensive blackface portrayals: