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PETALING JAYA, Jan 26 — Malaysian singer Haoren has apologised for showing brownface in his White Doll music video but remains adamant that the controversy was caused by “misunderstandings.”
The 32-year-old removed the music video from his YouTube page last night and posted a statement on his Instagram detailing the plot of his music video, which showed a schoolgirl whose skin became dark after walking to school every day.
Several scenes show the girl being taunted by her classmates and the bullying only stops after she uses a beauty product that whitens her complexion.
Haoren plays the role of the girl’s secret admirer in the music video and he passes her a range of gifts, including the skin whitening product, to help her skin become lighter.
Haoren went on to question if it was “really inappropriate” for a fair-skinned model to darken her entire body with makeup.
“In Malaysia, a country with strong sunlight, is it really inappropriate to do tanned makeup on an actor to present a plot (about being) sunburnt?
“Even though the story ends up showing unconditional love from the boy towards the tanned-skin girl?
“I want to listen to everyone's opinions, and welcome everyone to give your valuable opinions,” wrote Haoren.
The Klang-born singer later posted a follow-up video on his Instagram that included further apologies and explanations of the music video’s plot.
Haoren claimed that people were “ignoring” his original intentions behind the storyline and emphasised that he never meant to stir up any racial issues with the song.
“Actually, everyone has been ignoring the idea that I have been meaning to express.
“At the beginning and end of the video, the female lead remained as the girl with sunburnt skin and the love from the male lead remained the same for her.
“I sincerely hope everyone will not misunderstand my good intentions,” he said.
Haoren added that the music video for White Doll will be re-edited to remove any offensive content and reposted online.
He ended the music video by playing the song and showing the English translations of the lyrics on the screen.
Reactions to Haoren’s statements have been divided, with some Instagram users offering words of encouragement and appreciation to the musician while others called his video a “non-apology.”
“You did not address any of the constructive criticism that we have posted.
“You still want to justify what you have done and insist on how it is the sunlight in Malaysia,” said Instagram user @l.i.y.i.
“I really do hope you learn from this entire fiasco, not only to carefully review your content but also understand what you’re trying to convey through your videos from a cultural standpoint.
“Society‘s media today is progressing forward, yet you regressed instead with this content,” said @itsandrew.ong.
The original music video for White Doll sparked anger after it featured online influencer Qiu Wen with make-up slathered on her face and body to darken her appearance.
The act has been widely branded as brownface, a form of make-up commonly used by light-skinned performers to negatively portray people from Latin America, South Asia, or Southeast Asia.