Canadian PM Justin Trudeau landed in hot soup yesterday over a prank from two decades ago. He bowed down to political correctness and apologised for wearing brownface to look like a blackface at a 2001 “Arabian Nights” party. What seemed appropriate then is not deemed appropriate now. Donning an Aladdin costume and darkening one’s skin for a fancy dress party can potentially bring down a Prime Minister of a major developed country. The attacks on him were scathing. “Will you resign, Prime Minister?” The Opposition Leader expressed shock and disappointment. “You’re not fit to lead Canada. It was racist in 2001 and it is racist now.” Why is it racist to dress up as a coloured person? White is also a colour, right? Urghhlings, we are all coloured, with different shades. Recognising this fact cannot make us racist. When I was a kid, there were Hollywood movies with white actors acting as Asian characters. They sounded weird with their broken English and looked funny with their slit eyes and Fu Manchu haircuts, but they were not racist, were they? John Wayne the cowboy played a yellowface Mongol, Genghis Khan no less, and Susan Hayward was a Tartar in The Conqueror. Not a single actor was Asian in this Asian movie. Almost half of those involved in the movie died of cancer; they did not realise the deserts of Utah where they shot the film were covered with radioactive dirt from nuclear bomb tests carried out by the US military. The movie bombed due to the terrible script and bad accents. No one accused them of being racist then and they certainly will not be accused of being racist now. They were just acting in movies; likewise, Justin Trudeau’s brownface was just for a fancy dress party. Many of the actors died from making that movie, let us hope the Canadian Prime Minister won’t end up as a casualty too.
Today, a good friend, Charlie, sent us a photo of himself with a brand new New York cap. The tag says it is made in China. Trump has not been effective in his Trade War with China, a war he claimed is “easy to win”. Charlie has a similar dominant trait like mine; a free gift gets him excited and turns him raucous. “Freebies always nice, ya! Don’t you think it matches my sunnies and blue polo shirt? Feeling good…” he chirpily added.
It wasn’t his cap that caught my attention though. Rather, it was the smoothness of his face. To send a photo of himself when he possesses such a silky unblemished face at sixty one years of age will simply beg the same question from anyone. “What is your secret?!” “Bedak, right? My grandma said that was all she used” said Chip. Bedak is made from fermented rice, a popular white powder used by locals before the multi-national brands conquered the shopping malls and high streets all over the world. But, Chip did not elaborate, we do not know how smooth his grandma’s skin was. Unconvinced, another friend asked “Is it SK-II Pitera or L’Occitane?” Another big brand perhaps, “it must be Coco.Lab.” Coco.Lab is proudly Malaysian, their main ingredient is VCO, short for virgin coconut oil. Anything that is virginal has to be pure and therefore good, that’s such clever marketing.
“C’mon, Charlie. Tell us your secret! We want a face as smooth as yours! What do you pamper yourself with? Is it every night that you indulge your senses? How do you get that glow on your face?” To encourage him to divulge his secret, I continued, “Look at your even skin tone, the absence of dark spots, the smooth fine lines and no wrinkles?!” Finally, Charlie cracked. “It’s Darlie! Twice weekly.” he cried out. “Darlie? You mean the Chinese brand that was originally called Darkie?” Calling anyone darkie today would get any PM sacked for sure; there is no way a well established brand like Darkie can survive in the West without changing its name. The product was inspired by the Black and White Minstrel show, which featured wide eyed black men with pronounced white lips and flashy white teeth singing and tap dancing in our teevees back in the sixties. But, Darkie has become Darlie. Its meaning is forever lost, but to the Chinese, it will always be “黑人牙膏” (“Black Person Toothpaste”). Not surprisingly, the brand is predominantly sold in Asia. I guess the Asians are not so uptight about political correctness. Phew!