The social media company is being accused not only of introducing the digital equivalent of blackface, but also for the timing of the filter: it appears to have been introduced to mark 20 April (or 4/20), an important day in weed culture – but nothing to do with Bob Marley himself, outside of the musician’s own involvement with marijuana.
Aaisha Dadi Patel, a writer for South Africa’s Daily Vox, said that “the filter is a form of blackface, cultural appropriation, and totally problematic… This is a caricature of a black person.
“Besides that, Snapchat is reducing the legacy of a musical great to smoking weed.”
Prominent Snapchat users have already come under fire for using the filter themselves: celebrity Kylie Jenner posted a pair of videos of herself playing around with the filter, eliciting criticism from others.
The Guardian asked Snapchat whether it considered the optics of such a filter before rolling it out, and whether the firm consulted anyone over whether or not it might be offensive or hurtful. Snapchat said:
The lens we launched today was created in partnership with the Bob Marley Estate, and gives people a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music. Millions of Snapchatters have enjoyed Bob Marley’s music, and we respect his life and achievements.
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