Blackface sitcom scene on Hong Kong TV sparks controversy – months after broadcaster was accused of racism for using ‘brownface’ to depict Filipinos

  • The show was imitating the ‘Coffin Dance’ meme which went viral on TikTok
  • Broadcaster TVB said actors ‘wore special makeup’ for a ‘dramatic story plot’
  • TVB aired ‘Barrack O’Karma’ where actors with darkened skin portrayed Filipinos
  • Several skin-darkening controversies have emerged across Asian entertainment

One of Hong Kong’s top broadcasters has aired a TV show with some characters in blackface, just months after it was accused of racism for putting an actor in brownface to depict Filipinos. 

In an episode of the sitcom ‘Come Home Love’ aired Monday, one scene showed a funeral service that mimicked the ‘Coffin Dance’, a video of dancing Ghanaian pallbearers that went viral on TikTok a few years ago. 

TVB, Hong Kong’s largest free TV broadcaster, said Wednesday that the characters ‘wore special makeup’ for a ‘dramatic story plot’, and that their ‘faces were made dirty by the exhaust gas of a vehicle’.

In April, TVB broadcast a series in which actors darkened their skin to portray people from the Philippines in a show called ‘Barrack O’Karma 1968’, a horror series. 

Hong Kong broadcaster TVB has aired a TV show with some characters in blackface, saying the actors ‘wore special makeup’ for a ‘dramatic story plot’

The broadcaster said ‘it was never our intention to show disrespect or to discriminate (against) any persons,’ but stopped short of apologising

Several skin-darkening controversies have popped up across Asian entertainment in recent years

‘It was never our intention to show disrespect or to discriminate (against) any persons,’ the broadcaster added.

Blackface is considered highly offensive and racist in many parts of the world —especially in North America — but several skin-darkening controversies have popped up across Asian entertainment in recent years.

The broadcaster didn’t apologise, nor did it explain why that storyline was linked to the dancing Ghanaian pallbearers, who are black, and why blackface was needed for a play on the meme.

There was no widespread social media response or criticism in Hong Kong over the episode.

Actress Franchesca Wong, who plays a Filipino domestic helper in the TVB show, posted an Instagram video of her brushing make-up over her leg to darken her skin.

The video caused outrage, particularly in the city’s large Filipino community, and TVB apologised.

Then too, there was no wave of criticism locally, and the series got favourable reviews with no discussion of race.

The Hong Kong government’s Equal Opportunities Commission told AFP that ‘imitation or disguise cannot, and should not, be automatically equated with sarcasm, ridicule, or discrimination.’

The show was imitating the ‘Coffin dance’, also known as the ‘Dancing Pallbearers’, a video of a Ghanaian group filmed dancing with a coffin that went viral mostly on TikTok

https://youtube.com/watch?v=j9V78UbdzWI%3Frel%3D0%26showinfo%3D1%26hl%3Den-US

‘Having said that, producers and artists ought to take heed of sensitive social issues so as not to be seen as irresponsible,’ the EOC added.

Similar controversies have surfaced in other Asian countries.

Last year, a Malaysian pop star apologised for using a darkened woman in a music video that promoted a skin-whitening product.

Singapore’s state-owned broadcaster apologised in 2019 for an ad featuring an actor of Chinese origin with his skin darkened.

And a long-running TV series in the Philippines also received criticism for darkening three light-skinned actors who were playing characters from the indigenous Aeta communities.


The controversy came just months after it was accused of racism for putting an actor in brownface to depict Filipinos. Pictured: Actress Franchesca Wong plays Louisa, a Filipino domestic helper, in the TVB horror series Barrack O’Karma 1968. The actress posted an Instagram video of her brushing dark make-over her leg to darken her skin

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