Malaysians recently launched a petition calling for a local production house to stop filming an upcoming drama series
The petition is addressed to Zeel Productions Sdn Bhd, the producers of an upcoming TV series inspired by the Malay folklore, 'Dayang Senandung'.
The original story of Dayang Senandung is about a princess with the same name who was cursed with dark skin. Throughout her life, she was shunned for her complexion as people banished her from kingdoms and attempted to kill her.
At the time of writing this story, 19 June, the petition has garnered over 2,900 signatures.
It is still gathering signatures from supporters demanding Zeel Productions to stop filming the show immediately, given its anti-blackness premise.
This came after a video of a Malaysian woman dancing in blackface went viral on social media.
Netizens then discovered that the woman is Wani Kayrie, the lead actress in Zeel Production's adaptation of Dayang Senandung.
While on set, Wani recorded herself dancing in blackface makeup and posted the video on TikTok. After going viral, she removed the video from her profile.
As a reply to someone who reposted her video, she wrote, "Yes. I'm kindly asking for the video of yours to be taken down since I've deleted it to respect the community. And I wouldn't (want) you to commit sins for my wrong deeds, dear. It would be spreading slander when I've taken down the video myself and for you to spread it all over again."
The viral clip sparked an online debate on whether it is acceptable to be filming an adaptation of the folklore.
Several social media users pointed out that the story of Dayang Senandung is problematic as it portrays dark skin as a curse.
One person wrote, "It is infuriating to hear this over and over again. Dayang Senandung was from a time when colourism was rampant. Where black equals to ugly and evil. As soon as people became aware of its racist connotations, they banned it. 'Traditional folklore' does not give you the means to justify blackface."
Another user pointed out, "It is not an exaggeration to say that Dayang Senandung is problematic. Just because it's an old (story), a legend, a folklore, doesn't mean it's right. The fable taught us colourism. It taught us that dark, black skin is ugly, is cursed. It taught us that being different makes us unwanted."
"Although this Malaysian legend has been told before, it doesn't mean that the story is a good example in today's standards. The story of Dayang Senandung is about a princess who was cursed with black skin. What would that say to young dark-skinned women today?" said another netizen.