Soooo one Snapchat filter that’s definitely not making the betchy list is the one Snapchat did yesterday for 4/20. Basically, you could take your regular selfie and instead of doing your usual puppy face or whatever, Snapchat gave you the option of turning yourself into Bob Marley—yes, including a skin-darkening effect that many people are calling blackface. Oh, Snapchat. Really, how did you think this was going to fly? That’s not a rhetorical question, by the way. I’m genuinely curious.
Very, very predictably, people are pissed at Snapchat and accusing them of stereotyping and cultural appropriation and a whole slew of other things that are not great for PR. I don’t know enough about Jamaican and/or Rastafarian culture to really comment on that, and I only know like one Bob Marley song, so I can't really say whether or not I disagree. What I think we all can agree on, though, is that anything that even seems like blackface is a really bad idea in today’s day and age. People get fired for their Halloween costumes every year. Kylie got into some hot water a while back for using weird lighting/effects in a photoshoot that weren't even blackface, but kind of resembled it. So like, did the bros behind Snapchat honestly think everybody was going to let this fly? Was nobody over at Snapchat HQ like, “Hey guys, this kiiiiinda looks like blackface so maybsss we shouldn’t do it”? IDK I’m finding it hard to believe nobody, NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON, thought this filter was dicey, when meanwhile I cringed just reading the headline about it.
Eventually (after their Twitter mentions blew up?), Snapchat had this to say:
"Millions of Snapchatters have enjoyed Bob Marley's music, and we respect his life and achievements.” The lens gives people a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music."
AKA the verbal equivalent of a huge side step. That's like, a pretty bold move when tons of people are calling you racist AF.
Meanwhile, one person who definitely didn’t fall into the category of “maybe I shouldn’t do this” was, equally predictably, Kylie Jenner, who snapped a video of herself yesterday using the filter saying, “Yaaaaaasss bitch. Yaaaassss.”
I'm gonna let Salon or whoever do a think-piece on the irony of Kylie impersonating gay men impersonating black women while disguised as a black man. What I will say is this:
Okay, Kylie. You smoke weed. You’re super cool. We get it. Just lay off the blackface, okay?