The controversy surrounding Julianne Hough’s blackface costume for Halloween seems mainly shocking in the sense that a star seems to have been wholly unaware of the massive stigma and taboo surrounding the buried tradition — and as she apologizes again, we have to wonder how on Earth she was so ignorant of the cultural perception of such a thing.
Julianne Hough’s blackface seems to be a tone-deaf ode to her favorite show, Orange Is The New Black, and was meant to portray Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren, played on the Netflix hit by Uzo Aduba.
Aduba is black, clearly, and Hough is white — and the costume, comprised of prison orange pants and a top with an afro puffs hairstyle, was topped off with a deep, deep tan.
Juilanne Hough’s blackface causing a celeb news controversy was an inevitability, but also a chance to again examine why we’ve retired blackface as a humor bit and sanction it so severely.
After the backlash began, journalist and commentator Touré told TODAY that the hurt behind blackface will never be so far in the past that it becomes acceptable to don blackface for laughs:
“Blackface is always going to be problematic… It has this very deep, painful history in America.”
Hough herself apologized a day after the brouhaha, saying on an extended tweet:
I am a huge fan of the show Orange is the New black, actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created. It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize.
Julianne Hough’s blackface was not well received by basically anyone — and on Twitter, many commented with displeased reactions as the images began circulating.
Star Martha Plimpton said:
It’s not hard. White people: Do not wear blackface. Life will still be okay if you don’t ever, ever, jever, wear blackface. OKAY? GREAT.
— Martha Plimpton (@MarthaPlimpton) October 26, 2013
Letterman writer Justin Stangel commented:
Julianne Hough wore blackface to a party. Nothing screams Halloween like good ole fashion racism.
— Justin Stangel (@Justin_Stangel) October 26, 2013
Other people seemed to think Hough’s blackface was no big deal:
@juliannehough you shouldn’t have to apologize! Halloween is to pretend to be someone you’re not. I don’t get what’s so offensive. Loved it!
— Amanda Kendl (@AmandaKendl) October 26, 2013
@juliannehough You were portraying a character you admire, no one should be offended!Some people just likes to scream racist for everything.
— Joy McBride (@joymc49) October 26, 2013
Do you think Julianne Hough’s blackface was offensive, or are critics guilty of oversensitivity?