Comedy show ‘Banana Sundae’ attracts controversy for using blackface in skit

A shot from the controversial episode. Photo: Screenshots by Joey Lazaro
A shot from the controversial episode. Photo: Screenshots by Joey Lazaro

There is something very wrong with Philippine TV.

Filipino comedy show Banana Sundae is in the middle of a growing controversy thanks to an episode this past Sunday in which its actors sported blackface to make fun of the Binay family, one of the Philippines’ major political clans.

The ABS-CBN show’s use of blackface may have flown under the radar had it not been for a Facebook post that went up that night.

“A skit was shown in Banana Sundae with the intent of having a spoof of the Binay incident that happened last week. The show just used blackface to portray the Binay siblings including their father, our former Vice President,” a deeply unamused Joey Lozaro wrote.

“Dear ABS-CBN, how could you allow such insensitivity to happen? NOT FUNNY AT ALL,” he said.

Lazaro’s post has since gone viral and been shared more than 7,100 times.

The episode parodies the heated confrontation between Makati mayoral candidates Abby and Junjun Binay, which erupted during a debate at a church last week. Their spat got so heated that their father, former Vice President Jejomar Binay, had to intervene.

In the skit, the siblings pretend to fight over petty things, including stolen food. Watch it below:

The Binays have long been the butt of jokes, not just because of their alleged corrupt practices but because of their dark skin, a characteristic they share with millions of Filipinos.

In the Philippines, dark skin is routinely perceived and portrayed as unattractive. That’s why the local entertainment industry has a wildly disproportionate number of actors who are light-skinned, and why it’s common to see clinics that offer whitening drip procedures.

The show’s use of blackface, an offensive theatrical makeup which, as explained by Vox, has perpetuated “some of the cartoonish, dehumanizing tropes” about African Americans in the US that exist until this day, has sadly been a recurring issue on Philippine TV.

Some who saw Lazaro’s post were quick to understand why the skit is so offensive.

“That’s not good. What Banana Sundae did is insulting. That’s discriminating people based on their skin color. Being dark is nothing to be made fun of; Martin Luther King [Jr.] fought for black people to be equal with Caucasians, and this is what they’ll show. This is so harsh to black people,” Macata Udtohan wrote.

Photo: Joey Lazaro's FB
Photo: Joey Lazaro’s FB page

“I was shocked and appalled by their skit… not funny. What were the writers and directors thinking of?” P’Jeric Hizon, another netizen, wrote.

Photo: Joey Lazaro's FB page
Photo: Joey Lazaro’s FB page

But some people didn’t think there was anything wrong with the blatant display of colorism. Marie Posas dismissively said a lot of people “are trying hard to be woke.”

Photo: Joey Lazaro's FB page
Photo: Joey Lazaro’s FB page

Another netizen tried — but failed– to justify the show’s use of blackface.

Jang Gelbites wrote: “You son of a b*tch, you’re so fussy. That family is really dark in the first place.”

Photo: Joey Lazaro's FB page
Photo: Joey Lazaro’s FB page

This is not the first time that an ABS-CBN show used blackface. Drama show Maalaala Mo Kaya (aka Memories or MMK) in March became the object of scorn when its actors sported blackface for an episode about the indigenous Aeta community. While just last year, the drama fantasy series Bagani was slammed for using light-skinned actors it then darkened with bronzer for their roles rather than simply hiring darker-skinned actors to begin with.

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