February 6, 2023

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The Truth Behind the Controversial Watsons #LegendaCun Raya Video

3 min read

Updated 7.25pm 7/6/2017: The video is taken down by Watsons Malaysia

The Truth Behind the Controversial Watsons #LegendaCun Raya Video

Watsons Malaysia just uploaded this year’s Hari Raya video called Watsons #LegendaCun Raya on their Facebook Page 12 hours ago. The result is less than pleasing as netizens condemn the 14 minute video as racist.

Watsons #LegendaCun Raya Video

Within 12 hours, the video garnered over 250,000 views, more than 1,600 shares and over 300 comments (mostly are negative).

So what went wrong with this Watsons #LegendaCun Raya video?

This is probably one of the longest Hari Raya video ever as it is over 14 minutes. Like the previous Watsons Malaysia festive season videos, Watsons #LegendaCun Raya video is star studded with local celebrities. There are Malaysia’s biggest stars including Uqasha Senrose, Kamal Adli, Raja Ilya, Ruhainies, Sasha Saidin, Amber Chia, Thanuja, Alvin Chong and more in the video.

What went wrong about this video is the ‘black faced’ Harum Senandung. In the video, the king loved the voice of Harum Senandung but shocked to see her face and skin is so dark. He even makes comments like ‘oh my goshh’, ‘where are the lights?” and “she is actually dark?”. There are also scenes where the rest are shocked to see her face is so dark. However, the king still chose her as her queen regardless of her skin colour and the other scene shows Harum Senandung ‘washed’ her face to become a beautiful girl. The video tries to show that the King still loves the girl regardless of her look. However, many people including us don’t see it that way. We felt it is wrong to portrayed Harum Senandung as black skin lady.

So what is the story behind the ‘black skin’ Harum Senandung?

From what we understand, the reference to the black face character ‘Harum Senandung’ is inspired from ‘Dayang Senandong’ movie in 1965, a princess who was cursed to be black but a prince later fell in love because of her voice. They married and had children, and thus she became fair again. You can watch the movie below.

We spoke to a Malay film writer, Mohd. Hisham Salleh and he told us the origin of dark face princess is actually a Malay movie called ‘Dandan Setia’. The movie was released in 1959 and played by Datin Saadiah, Jins Shamsudin, Aziz Jaafar and more. We found the video on Youtube and you can watch it below.

That is the main reason why Harum Senandung in Watsons #LegendaCun Raya video is black faced and not the reason to make it ugly or for racism purposes.

If you watched all the Watsons Malaysia festive videos, there are always element of comedy and parody and same goes to Watsons #LegendaCun Raya video.

The problem is they should make it clear that the Watsons #LegendaCun Raya video is inspired by ‘Dayang Senandong’ movie in the video. Not everyone in this generation knows about ‘Dayang Senandong’ or ‘Dandan Setia’. The movies are set in 1950s and 1960s so please don’t expect everyone know about these movies.

Why do we blog about this?

We believe there is a reason for Watsons Malaysia to potray Harum Senandung as ‘black face’ and they are not that stupid to create a racist Hari Raya festive video. To be frank, we are offended by the video too until we understand the ‘true story’ behind this video.

We hope everyone knows the ‘real story’ behind Watsons #LegendaCun Raya video and we hope that Watsons Malaysia should make their stories ‘clearer’ in the future.

5 thoughts on “The Truth Behind the Controversial Watsons #LegendaCun Raya Video

  1. Yeah but we’ve come a long way from the 60s. We were supposed to have learned some lessons along the way.

  2. yes, we have come a long way since the 60s
    i personally believe we should no longer be offended by who we are

    if we are black, why should we be concerned if people call us black?

    racism is taught. we adults should stop pretending to be heroes. because this is an era when we are told that blacks SHOULD be angry if they are called black. do we really have to continue preaching this?

    stop telling people they should be offended by such things. nobody should be offended by who they are.

  3. I find it hilarious, don’t know why everyone have to take things so serious. Guess it’s up to individual how they want to take it personally or as entertainment lo…

  4. You guys need to really research the Legend before giving Watsons a free pass on this issue. You didn’t notice that in the ad that Dayang Senandong actually washed her face (another WTF moment) and became fairer BEFORE her marriage to the King which is nothing like the legend which says the King married her even though she was dark and even had a baby before she turned fair again.

    So no, Watsons is not off the hook

  5. Have people asked themselves, out of so many culturally rich legends and tales, why specifically choose Dayang Senandong as inspiration for the ad? The answer is simple – it provides Watsons an opportunity to send out the message that there’s hope their products can “cuci-cuci” and effectively as well as radically make you highly acceptable/desirable (fair) versus shocking (dark/black). Following many other “whitening” product ads in the past, Watsons decided to continue with and underscore the same theme that a fair complexion is mandatory for acceptance and success, and that Watsons may just have the products that you need to achieve this. The other uncalled for discrimination and derision which others missed is that of the Thai candidate (Nang Nak) who was not only scary in the ghostly sense but also because she turns out to be a “ladyboy” (alluded to in the end). All in all, a presumably expensive ad with barely tolerable slapstick humour and a terrible, disturbing message.

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