A well-known perfume brand had to publicly apologize to actor John Boyega—starred in “Star Wars”—after eliminating him from the Chinese version of an ad, even though he had created and directed the original video, which featured his family and friends. The fact adds to a long list of racial discriminations that arise after agreements between the authorities of the Chinese Communist Party and companies in the entertainment industry.
Jo Malone’s announcement that the Chinese version replaced Boyega with local star Liu Haoran, without the black actor having been notified. As described by The Hollywood Reporter (THR), the new video not only completely eliminated the “Star Wars” actor, but did not feature any black individuals.
In response to the scandal that broke, Jo Malone London said in a statement to THR that the ad designed for the Chinese public was a misstep and has been removed.
“The company described its actions—likely to be seen as yet another example of perceived anti-Black prejudice in China that has been widely reported on in recent years—as a ‘misstep’ that it said was ‘painful’ and caused ‘offense’,” THR journalist Alex Ritman said.
As described in an Associated Press (AP) report, broadcast by several media outlets, Boyega’s original spot was aired last year and called “The London Gent.” The video features the London-born actor walking through the neighborhood where he grew up and also refers to his Nigerian roots.
See the original commercial below:
We are thrilled to announce that our Jo Malone London Gent film featuring @JohnBoyega is the proud winner of The Fragrance Foundation Virtual Awards 2020 for Best Media Campaign. #ScentofAGent #TheFragranceFoundationAwards pic.twitter.com/rNZpTVXLB6
— Jo Malone London (@JoMaloneLondon) August 27, 2020
The concept for the film was based on John’s personal experiences and should not have been replicated,” acknowledged the British perfume company.
This is not the first time
This is not the first time Boyega has faced racist actions under the rigid CCP. In fact, a number of criticisms have been mounting against the entertainment industry over its apparent anti-black bias agreed upon between the companies and the CCP.
In 2015, Boyega had a leading role playing Finn’s character in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” However, the film’s promotion in China caused backlash when fans saw that Finn’s appearance on China’s posters had been significantly reduced in size compared to the original posters, where he was the third largest character after Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren and Daisy Ridley’s King.
Furthermore, other nonwhite characters, including Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron and Lupita Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata, were directly removed from these graphics.
According to the AP report, Boyega has been very critical of racism in Hollywood lately. In fact, in statements to GQ magazine, he has said that black characters have been “pushed to the side” of Disney’s “Star Wars” franchise.
It is also worth mentioning that Chinese ads have already been criticized on several occasions for their racist messages. In 2016, for example, a commercial for the local detergent Qiaobi caused worldwide outrage after it appeared to show a black man being “bleached.”