The photo and video app giant says Anime characters inspired the filter
Snapchat continues to come under fire for its culturally insensitive filters.
The photo app giant believed it would be a good idea to create a lens that would allow users to morph themselves into looking Asian, which set social media on fire.
Snapchat users took to Twitter to call out the tech company, stressing that the lens was racist because it perpetuated exaggerated Asian features including “dramatically slanted eyes, upturned eyebrows, and buck teeth,” Fusion reported.
— grace (@tequilafunrise) August 9, 2016
— Brian (@bkisnah) August 9, 2016
— lia (@limb_light) August 9, 2016
Who approved this?
A Snapchat rep told Verge that the filter was inspired by Japanese animation and was all in fun. But who really benefits from creating a filter grounded in blatant historical stereotypes? Who finds that entertaining?
Thankfully, the lens has been pulled from the app, but it’s important to note that this isn’t Snapchat’s first offense.
In May, Snapchat was accused of forcing a white standard of beauty on its users by lightening darker skin and even narrowing noses and jaw lines via its “beauty” filter.
huge fan of snapchat's new lightening filter!!! love me some Eurocentric beauty standards ?? pic.twitter.com/DajLKNYjBy
— fka ellaisahoot (@ellaadjoa) March 14, 2016
Snapchat, I am very disturbed by the fact that your "beautification" filters make my skin lighter, and my nose and jaw smaller. Just saying.
— Allegra Clark (@SimplyAllegra) May 9, 2016
Then in April the company created a Bob Marley filter, for the marijuana holiday April 20, which gave users darker skin, dreadlocks and a Rasta-colored hat, similar to the Reggae icon. Critics accused Snapchat of encouraging blackface and reducing Marley’s rich legacy to being a pothead.
— Casey Johnston (@caseyjohnston) April 20, 2016
This current blunder speaks to a much larger issue about Asian representation in popular culture. With the whitewashing of Asian roles in films such as The Ghost in The Shell and Doctor Strange and white saviors being centered in films about Asian countries, movies like The Great Wall, where erasure of Asian life is clear.
A point that Guardian reporter Julia Carrie Wong brilliantly points out in this tweet:
If you put that Snapchat filter onto this photo we'd have a pretty good depiction of Asian representation in 2016 pic.twitter.com/AjnTGiSZbC
— Julia Carrie Wong (@juliacarriew) August 10, 2016