Japanese Comedian Criticized For Eddie Murphy Blackface Impression

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A Japanese comedian is being criticized for his impression of Eddie Murphy that broadcast on Japanese television during New Years Eve—because his impression involved blackface.

According to the New York Times, comedian Masatoshi Hamada was attempting to portray Eddie Murphy’s character from “Beverly Hills Cop” for a skit on the show “Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!!”

The portrayal was quickly criticized on social media and in various publications ranging from Vice to Teen Vogue.

Some, however, claim that the portrayal does not hold the same weight as an American in blackface because Japan never enslaved blacks. According to the New York Times:

Not all were critical, with some defending the comic’s depiction of Mr. Murphy. Unlike the United States, they said, Japan does not have a history of systematic discrimination against black people, and a Japanese performer painting his face black does not come with the same cultural stigma.

Others viewed the criticism as an attack on Japanese culture and art:

While Japan may not have enslaved blacks, BuzzFeed claims there is a long history of blackface in the country, dating back to 1845. The New York Times also says the Japanese started racially profiling blacks in the 1850s.

BuzzFeed also noted some of the Japanese tweets about the incident viewed the outrage as an attack on comedy in itself.

 

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