Shane Pow Does Blackface: Did Toggle Dismiss Racial Sensitivity?

UPDATE (4 May 2017, 6:25PM): The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has fined Mediacorp Pte Ltd $5,500 for “an offensive remark by one of the characters” and for featuring “a Chinese male actor with ‘blackface’ makeup role-playing an African” in the episode of “I Want To Be A Star” discussed below.

In a press release, IMDA cited a breach of the Video-On-Demand Programme Code and assessed that the segment was “racially insensitive and constituted racial stereotyping that might offend certain segments of the community”.

IMDA notes that Mediacorp had promptly removed the offensive segment from online access via Toggle and has taken remedial action to prevent a recurrence.

MediaCorp‘s online service Toggle has come under fire for featuring Chinese actor Shane Pow in a racially insensitive scene. Episode 6 of the Toggle original “I Want To Be A Star” depicts a series of offensive scenes ranging from blackface to misrepresentation of people from Indian and African descent.

This isn’t the first time a MediaCorp entity has been associated with the offensive blackface.

Blackface refers to the makeup used to impersonate or dress up as a black person. As a costume, it reduces entire cultures to just the colour of their skin. It forms a caricature of the marginalised group and exaggerates stereotypes to reinforce racist perceptions.

Shane Pow Does Blackface - Popspoken

In short, it is racist and wrong. Period.

When clearly at fault, sugarcoating your wrongdoing clearly adds more insult to injury. Toggle’s latest apology posted Wednesday night sidestepped the issue to the point of placing the blame on the viewers instead.


The head-scratching phrase “perceived as being racially insensitive” disqualifies this attempt at an apology. While we understand that apologising for misdeeds is a difficult area for corporate PR, discomfort with admitting that you were wrong is a hallmark of public apologies. Swallow your pride, admit your mistake, and carry on.

Actor Shane Pow has yet to issue a comment on the matter.

As expected, Twitter didn’t take the half-baked attempt too well. Singaporeans laid the truth on the @ToggleSG account and they laid it hard.

And the perennial…

As of Thursday afternoon, Episode 6 of the online series has been removed from the Toggle page.

Shane Pow Does Blackface - Popspoken

We hope the relevant people have learnt something from this.

Image Credits: Screengrabs from Toggle
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