Your Face Sounds Familiar is a popular celebrity singing show format, that currently has versions in different countries around the world, including some in Europe.
Each series of the show features a number of celebrities — some established singers, some from other fields of entertainment — who impersonate pop performers. Some series have starred singers who have also been past or future Eurovision stars.
Some series of Your Face Sounds Familiar feature blackface performances — where a white performer wears dark makeup as part of their impersonation of a black performer. These sorts of performances are problematic at best, racist at worst. While in some countries, the performances are delivered as earnest tributes to the stars, in other countries the sight of a white person dressed as a black person is played for laughs.
In the past, wiwibloggs has covered former Eurovision stars who have competed on Your Face Sounds Familiar. Up until 2017, this included some blackface performances, which we covered as basic entertainment news without criticism. We regret this and recognise the harm that it can cause to normalise such performances. We’re sorry.
We have now taken down these posts as we cannot see any positive reason to keep them online.
Since 2018, we have chosen to not cover blackface performances on Your Face Sounds Familiar. In this period, we have, however, covered former Eurovision stars who have performed on editions of the show that have included blackface performances by other competitors.
But enough is enough. We are uncomfortable skirting around the issue of blackface on Your Face Sounds Familiar. From now on, wiwibloggs will not cover performances from Eurovision stars or Eurovision tributes featured on any future series of Your Face Sounds Familiar and we have no reason to cover the show otherwise.
We also urge all productions of Your Face Sounds Familiar to end blackface performances. If a broadcaster wants to include songs by popular black artists, they can do so without blackface or other racially offensive caricatures. Indeed, they could just invite black performers to compete on the show.
Why are blackface performances problematic?
Blackface has its origins in American minstrel shows of the mid to late 19th century. White performers used black greasepaint makeup to parody African-American people. As Vox explains, “Taking place against the backdrop of a society that systematically mistreated and dehumanized black people, they were mocking portrayals that reinforced the idea that African-Americans were inferior in every way.”
The American academic David Leonard told Vox that contemporary blackface “reinforces the idea that black people are appropriate targets of ridicule and mockery and reminds us of stereotypes about black criminality, and danger.”
The website also notes that “not feeling racist when you’re wearing blackface does nothing to change how it affects those who see it”. They also say that due to the internet, blackface photos and videos can spread a lot further than its intended audience.
Outside of the United States, there is some history of blackface performance in countries such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Portugal.
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