You know people complain so much about racism but I’m like then why is Hercules and the POTUS black?
There’s a term for this kind of racial costuming: Yellowface. It’s a phenomenon that seems to be resurgent.
We saw it in Katy Perry’s geisha-inspired performance at the American Music Awards in November, in a January episode of the hit sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” and a month later, in the opening sketch of the venerable comedy program “Saturday Night Live.”
Each time, the use of yellowface has been defended as loving homage or harmless parody. Each time, when Asian-Americans have pointed out that we don’t find the wearing of cosmetics and wardrobe to simulate Asian appearance to be “loving” or “harmless,” our concerns have been dismissed.
Which is why, despite my deep personal love of musical theater, I think these “traditional” productions — yellowface productions — of “The Mikado” have to end.