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Polish singing competition says it is ‘very surprised’ to receive complaints over the show’s use of blackface

Popular series sees celebrity contestants impersonate famous singers

Annabel Nugent
Monday 22 March 2021 13:32 GMT
Polish singing series Your Face Sounds Familiar comes under fire for blackface
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A Polish singing competition has said it was “surprised” to receive complaints over the show’s use of blackface.

The Spanish TV series Your Face Sounds Familiar has almost 50 formats around the world and sees celebrity contestants impersonate musicians in televised performances.

As well as attempting to mimic a singer’s voice, the participants also take measures to look like the stars they are trying to imitate.

The Polish iteration of the reality show has attracted criticism after its white performers impersonated Black artists such as Bill Withers by wearing prosthetics and facial make-up that amounts to blackface.

Blackface is a racist practice in which non-Black people paint their skin darker to resemble a Black person. The performance perpetuates negative and reductive stereotypes.

Addressing the backlash to its contestants’ use of blackface, the team behind the show wrote on its official Instagram: “Dear Viewers, we are very surprised with the number of negative comments regarding the TV show ‘Your Face Sounds Familiar.’”

It continued to state that the participants “strive to be as close to the original as possible” and that the contestants’ aim is to deliver a rendition of the “original performance in the most precise manner, while honouring the original artist”.

The lengthy statement goes on to note that a number of famous Polish celebrities have impersonated Black singers during their time on the programme, including Kasia Skrzynecka as Tina Turner, Agnieszka Włodarczyk as Michael Jackson, Mariusz Totoszko as Stevie Wonder, Natalia Szroeder as Whitney Houston, Kacper Kuszewski as Missy Elliott, and Aleksandra Szwed as Beyonce.

Users on social media, however, were not impressed with the TV show’s statement.

One critic wrote: “One word IGNORANCE. Can’t believe we are still dealing with blackface in 2021. The audacity to even defending this act [sic] clueless and not acknowledge the issue is astonishing.”

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“Lol y’all still never apologised. we don’t care about intent, it’s about the effect and it clearly shows how UNEDUCATED and unaware you all are about the origination of these racist trends,” added another person.

In June last year, British comedy series Little Britain was removed from BBC iPlayer and Britbox amid concerns about its use of blackface and racist humour. 

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In a statement, a spokesperson for the BBC said: “There’s a lot of historical programming available on BBC iPlayer, which we regularly review. Times have changed since Little Britain first aired so it is not currently available on BBC iPlayer.”

The removal of the sketch show, starring David Walliams and Matt Lucas, followed its removal from Netflix UK the week before. 

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