Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 25 April 2019

Lebanese singer Myriam Fares dons blackface in latest music video

And yes, it is 2018

A screengrab from Myriam Fares's 'Goumi' video, which has had 2.2 million views since it was uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday. 
A screengrab from Myriam Fares's 'Goumi' video, which has had 2.2 million views since it was uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday. 

Lebanese singer Myriam Fares's latest music video is getting plenty of attention online, but for all the wrong reasons: the Goumi clip shows the 35-year-old singer in a faux jungle setting, and in blackface.

She starts off in fabrics emblazoned with African-inspired patterns, while wearing bold gold jewellery and dancing like Shakira, and at two minutes and 33 seconds in, things take a decidedly strange and offensive turn when the star appears with her whole body and face painted dark brown. She stays this way throughout the rest of the music video.

Myriam Fares on stage. Photo by Wahid Tajani
Myriam Fares on stage. Photo by Wahid Tajani

Essentially, 'blackface' is when non-black people darken their skin to mimic, or rather mock, black people. Its modern roots lie in minstrel shows in the US in the early 1800s, when white performers would darken their skin with burnt cork, or shoe polish, and then paint a debasing and crudely stereotypical portrayal of an entire race of people.

Remember, in the US, these white performers profited from the act, making money by singing and dancing - something that black people were unable to make a living doing in the time of slavery. Blackface was needed because actual blackness wasn't welcome on stage. And also, when black performers first appeared on stage and film in the US, they were also painted in black paint, to appear darker: which was their only option in order to get work.

This video sums up why blackface is so problematic (in an American context):

Reactions

The end of the 'Goumi' video 
The end of the 'Goumi' video

It is hard to imagine that someone like Fares, in 2018, wouldn't know how loaded and offensive perpetuating blackface would be, and reactions on Twitter have shown a lot of disappointment from those around the region:

'Goumi' lyrics

Here is an English translation of the song's lyrics...

Hey

Stand up, stand up, stand up

Stand up, stand up and dance

Show them your beauty

O girl

The day you danced

You were gorgeous

And crowned everyone’s head

With your coquetry

Yalla yalla yalla

Pretty as the moon

Show me your beauty

Yalla yalla yalla

Get up (and dance)

Isn’t it enough

Your beauty had turned people insane?

All the world’s beauty and henna

Are mirrored in you

Updated: December 16, 2018 03:06 PM

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