Watsons Malaysia launched its Raya holiday campaign with Legenda Cun Raya and the internet is fuming over the short film.
The film is 15 minutes long and is loosely based on the Malay classic Dayang Senandung which was then made into a movie in 1965. The classic is about a princess who was “cursed” with skin as dark as night, and the only way for her to break the curse is to live away from the palace. The princess, Dayang Senandung, eventually finds love when a king hears her melodious singing, tracks her down and promises to marry her no matter how she looks like.
Somewhat like the classic, Legenda Cun Raya tells a story of how princesses and beauty queens audition to impress the rich merchant, Al-Kazam. He then holds an audition to find the woman who haunts his dreams with her awesome singing but alas, the pretty faces at his audition got everything but the singing right.
That is until a woman in a veil named Harum Senandung starts singing. He then asks to see the face behind the enchanting voice and finds her in blackface *gasp*.
But Al-Kazam chooses her in the end anyway which is sweet and all but also because her pipes are flawless and dude’s got priorities.
I think what made the Internet blow up was the fact that in the end she comes back sans blackface paint *gasp* and tells the Al-Kazam that she was merely testing his loyalty and, I quote, “adinda tidak hitam, adinda flawless lagi”(I’m not black, I’m flawless), which left Al-Kazam TOTALLY relieved – which was awkward for us, TBH. The video also featured some very prominent Malaysian personalities and celebrities. Which basically had the internet erupting like this:
And this, in response to Amber Chia’s comment on Watsons Malaysia’s Facebook post of the Legenda Cun Raya:
ICYMI, blackface is a form of theatrical makeup used by a non-black person to portray a black person. More often than not, they were portrayed as stereotypes with negative connotations in the 19th century. Fast forward 2 centuries later and everyone agrees that putting on blackface is crazy offensive and everyone should stop doing it because that’s basically saying “black is bad, white is good” and that’s not something we should celebrate in the 21st century.
Until Watsons Malaysia posted the video, at least. I’m not so sure how the video or the script got approved, but I can’t lie and say that it didn’t leave a sour taste in my mouth. Sure, it’s based on a celebrated Malay classic and it was then made into a popular film. But that was also in 1965. In 2017, I’d like to believe that everyone’s about celebrating people of all shapes and colours, and it’s been nothing short of amazing to see the love go around.
At least Watsons Malaysia realised the severity of Legenda Raya Cun, taken down the video from their YouTube channel and released this statement just a couple of minutes ago:
In the spirit of Raya where everyone’s about loving each other and forgiveness, I’m just hoping Watsons Malaysia brings their great production quality and star-studded cast up a notch with a better script the next time around. Until then, I’d like to know what makeup remover Harum Senandung was using to get rid of all that paint in under a minute.