ACT NOW! Go (in-person or online) to Seattle Rep’s diversity townhall on 8/18, 6:30pm | #Mikado #SeattleAFAR

A photograph of Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society's production of "The Mikado".
A photograph of Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s production of “The Mikado”.

Yellowface and brownface seems to be all the rage these days.

The Asian American blogosphere has been leading a vocal online conversation over the inappropriateness of yellowface in stage productions of “The Mikado”, prompted by this July 14th op-ed by Sharon Pian Chan; you can check out the wonderful guest-post by Sean Miura that was published on this site last month in protest of Seattle’s latest yellowface “Mikado” production. Meanwhile, HBO is touting its newest cross-over show “Jonah From Tonga”, which premiered last week, and which features Australian comedian Chris Lilley in anti-Pacific Islander brownface;  you should read my post on the offensiveness of Lilley’s show and his routine use of yellowface and brownface and then sign this petition. In both cases, we’ve seen abjectly racist use of racial drag defended as artistic license, when the rhetoric in defense of yellowface can be understood at all (which isn’t always the case).

Apparently, a conversation on race in the arts is overdue, at least for those who forget the first rule of yellowface and brownface. I still assert that yellowface and brownface is one of those “obviously racist” aggressions that really doesn’t warrant additional exposition; but, hey, everyone can benefit from a little dialogue, right?

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HBO to premiere racist Australian show featuring actor in anti-Pacific Islander brownface

Australian comedian Chris Lilley portrays Jonah Takalua, here while still living in Tonga.
Australian comedian Chris Lilley wears brownface to portray his character Jonah Takalua, living in Tonga.

Oh, HBO, how could you do me so wrong after I sung your praises so loudly regarding this season of Game of Thrones? How could you betray me after I just recently discovered the HBO-Go SmartHub app on my does-everything-but-start-the-morning-coffee smart TV?

On August 8th, HBO will premiere an Australian show called Jonah From Tonga. The show’s 6-episode first season (structured as a mockumentary) originally ran in Australia in May of this year, and has since been picked up by HBO, along with BBC (another disappointing turn for an otherwise stellar network). The show stars (White) comedian Chris Lilley in brown makeup and curly-cued wig, playing the show’s 14-year-old eponymous protagonist, a wayward thuggish high school student recently returned to Australia from the Polynesian islands of Tonga (trailer after the jump).

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Nearly 2 Months Later, CNN reports on “Make Me Asian” App

Screen caps of the “Make Me Asian” app, courtesy of Angry Asian Man.

Nearly two months after the Asian American blogosphere (including this blog) broke the news of the incredibly racist “Make Me Asian” Google Android app, CNN has now picked up the story (which explains the sudden increase in traffic I’m getting on that post). From the article:

The apps use dated and racist stereotypes of Asians and Native Americans, said the online campaign 18 Million Rising, named after the number of Asian-Americans in the United States.

“These racist and offensive portrayals of Asians and Native Americans perpetuate damaging racial stereotypes and should not be distributed on the Google play store,” said the campaign, which has an online petition to remove the apps.

Google, however, said the apps are not in violation of the company’s policies that protect against hate speech.

“We don’t comment on individual apps,” Google said in a statement. “We remove apps from Google Play that violate our policies.”

KimberyDeiss makes other photo-altering apps including “Make Me Old” and “Make Me Fat.” There’s also “Make Me Russian” and “Make Me Irish,” which play off stereotypes.

But the furor in the Asian-American community, sparked a few weeks ago, is growing. Blogs, including Angry Asian Man, have reinforced the call to remove the apps.

Washington pastor Peter Chin decided to mount an even larger protest on the website

Chin said he understood Google’s motto is “Don’t be evil.” That makes it hard to fathom why the company would support these apps, he said.

This is the first time Chin has protested in this way. He was prompted to act, he said, because Google refused to do so.

“Google normalizes everything from Google maps, Gmail,” he said. “If you want to search for something on the Internet, you even say to ‘Google it.'”

Chin feared Google’s power would make people think the apps were OK.

“I wanted to make sure this app isn’t given a pass of approval,” he said.

Chin said he wants Google users to know that the stereotypes in the apps have been used to marginalize and discriminate against people.

“It’s not cool,” he said.

The app maker, KimberyDeiss, is also the creator of the equally racist “Make Me Indian” app which plays on racist stereotypes of Native Americans.

Screen-capture of the “Make Me Indian” app.

Google has responded that these apps do not violate their terms of service and therefore cannot be pulled. But you can sign the petition anyways. Because people who don’t like racism don’t get down with this shit.

“Make Me Asian” Android App Is So Incredibly Racist It Makes My Stomach Churn

Angry Asian Man reports that a prolific Android app maker has created a “Make Me Asian” app that takes a photo from your mobile device and allows you to slant your eyes, add yellow spray paint to your skin, and throw on some clipart Fu Manchu moustache and rice paddy hat. And voila — you’re now completely indistinguishable from every other Asian, right? 

Screen caps of the “Make Me Asian” app. The resemblance to Asian people is uncanny.

The app description claims:

Have you ever wondered to present himself as a person of another nationality? You can imagine, for example, Chinese or Japanese? No? Then immediately take your phone and download it amazing Android-application called «Make me Asian».

This is just a fun app lets you indulge you and your friends! You can for a few seconds to make himself a Chinese, Japanese, Korean or any other Asians!
Features “Make me Asian”:

  • almost instantly, you can make yourself or your friends by representatives of Asian nations, such as Chinese or Japanese;
  • the opportunity to photograph people and process the captured images, or upload a photo from the gallery and work with it;
  • the results obtained can be shared via the social network Facebook, email or MMS.

There is absolutely no need for me to explain why this is The Most Fucking Racist Thing You’ve Seen All Day. Just do me a favour and give this thing a negative review (if you’re good-hearted enough to actually download the app in order to do so). Then shoot an email to the app’s developer, Kimbery Deiss, at with the same message. Then go rant to all your friends using Google android.

Oh, and by the way, there’s an equally as racist “Make Me Indian” app that assumes that a furrowed brow and facepaint does a Native American one make. Yeah. No.


Update: Here’s a petition to sign to have this app removed from the Google store.