The photo and video-sharing app caused public uproar yesterday when a filter superimposing stereotypical Asian features such as slanted eyes, rounded faces and toothy smiles was introduced.
According to a Snapchat spokesperson, the lens was meant to pay tribute to animé. However some users took to social media to air their anger at Asian and African American racism, spreading negative misconceptions to a wide audience.
Twitter’s #myyellowfacestory Trend
Earlier this year, the Californian app was accused of being racist when it introduced a controversial Bob Marley 4/20 filter with dreadlocks, which people could superimpose to a photo, adding a black face.
Although the app is meant to be fun, enhancing features to appear cartoon-like, audiences, many users took to social media saying they did not like being reduced to a cultural stereotype.
The exaggerated ‘yellowface’ brings back to mind Mickey Rooney in the original Breakfast at Tiffany’s film.
Snapchat Statistics and Cultural Influence
According to DMR, in 2013, Facebook reportedly offered Snapchat $3 billion. Since their introduction in 2011, Snapchat has enjoyed 100 million daily active users.
Snapchat has more than 10 billion daily video views whereas Facebook has 8 billion views in 2015. This statistic is a 350 percent increase in the last year alone.
Their US audience is culminated of 37 percent 18-24 year-olds, which makes them one of the most coveted apps for advertisers wanting to capitalize on a young audience.
According to Snapchat, on any given day the app reaches 41 percent of all 18-34 year-olds in the US.
Aziz Ansari and Ethnic Racism in Hollywood/ America
Aziz Ansari (@azizansari) 33, the Indian American comedian from Columbia, South Carolina, is cited for raising America’s consciousness regarding Asian stereotyping in Hollywood.
For example, in his Netflix series, Master of None, his character Dev is told by a network executive that a TV series cannot have more than one Indian:
“If I do a show with two Indian guys on the poster, everyone’s gonna think it’s an Indian show. It wouldn’t be as relatable to a large, mainstream audience.”
Fusion.net found that of 800 main cast members on 100 network TV shows, just 52 (6 percent) are of Asian decent.
Snapchat’s Racial Preferences And Message
Although Snapchat pulled the ‘Yellow Face’ filter as soon as the furore began, critics point out to other ethnic stereotyping on the app.
Some believe that the app favors white complexions because there are functions that lighten skin tone.
The official statement from Snapchat was, “This animé-inspired lens has already expired and won’t be put back into circulation.”
“Lenses are meant to be playful and never to offend.”
One Twitter user, Mike Udem succinctly replied, “Racist taste in black and yellow filters. Snapchat must be Donald Trump supporters.”