Why it’s not okay to wear Frenchface (ever)

Every day it seems like another Korean pop idol is doing Frenchface.  When will k-pop idols learn?

We’ve all seen it – k-pop idols wearing berets and hanging out in cafes, posing with antique furniture or standing around on rustic-looking street corners to give that “I’m a French person in Paris being all French and stuff” vibe.

Above is a picture of the always-problematic Mamamoo, forever in trouble for some insensitive action. Look at those bitches grinning. God they love being racist – but they’re far from the only ones!  I know what you’re thinking:

Rest assured that it doesn’t matter:

  • If you’re “not really racist”
  • If you love French people
  • If you were just dressing like a famous French person for a party or something

It’s still offensive and you should stop doing it.

It’s incredibly offensive because it is a caricature of a French person, meaning it exaggerates the French form to reinforce racist perceptions. Historically it has been used to perpetuate the fallacy that the French are an inferior beret-wearing cafe-frequenting too-lazy-to-go-to-war race, when in actual fact they don’t wear berets much at all and have the most batshit insane fighting force in the western world.

Starting in the early days of cinema, non-French actors performing in movies would wear berets and hang around in cafes to impersonate French people and act out these racist stereotypes of French people. These movies were enjoyed by non-French people who wanted to dehumanize French people so they could continue to view and treat them as less than human.

It is impossible to separate Frenchface from its history of French oppression. Those who decide to wear Frenchface are disregarding the sensitivities of a group of people who have been marginalized for centuries.

Telling an oppressed minority group not to be offended by your actions is an act of privilege. French people do not have the privilege or the ability to forget their painful history of getting their asses kicked by the Germans in wars twice in the last century, but non-French people, as a member of the majority in the world, claim the privilege to ignore this complicated history out of convenience.  Embracing the chance to mock, dehumanize, and to dismiss the feelings and demands of others, all while re-imagining history so that only things you deem wrong are wrong, is a pretty great way to perpetuate a racist society that treats French people like crap.

LOOK FRENCHFACE IS RACIST… JUST BECAUSE, OKAY?  NOW STOP IT!

IT’S JUST WRONG – IT HURTS PEOPLE’S FEELINGS, OKAY?  WHY CAN’T PEOPLE JUST NOT BE PROBLEMATIC?

Okay, look… I’ll be honest.  When I was younger… I was really racist and would make racist jokes about French people in school all the time. In home group in class I’d wear a fake moustache and act like I was sipping a coffee or something and put on a fake French accent while we were waiting for the teacher.  The whole class laughed at the time, and we all thought we were being hilarious, but since then I became all “woke” and stuff and now I realise that what I did was wrong.  Of course I can’t change it now, but as a born-again “woke” person, by being really strict about this stuff online maybe I can morally compensate for my previous personal shortcomings.  After all if I die and I’ve done more non-racist things than racist things, doesn’t that mean that overall I’m not a racist?

I just want to be a good non-racist person!  How do I redeem myself?  Please tell me!  This is important!  Hey, where are you going?  Come back!

55 thoughts on “Why it’s not okay to wear Frenchface (ever)

  1. I really appreciate your effort in educate kpop fans and netizens in general. I said it in the roundup and it was directed to one group, now I know better: Thanks for calling out the Frenchface. You know, I live in this one country that has a history of mocking and degrading french people using those berets in newspapers, plays and national TV. It’s so offensive when I see that happen because, you know, everybody in the world has to know that! The history of this one country is much more important than everywhere else! Also, I won’t be a fan anymore, this clearly affects the way that producers, lyricists and musicians make their music, they have to put special attention to the group they make their songs to. Clearly, they ask them for feedback in every step of the process and have in mind that this group, that I already forgot their name, think french people are the worst that exist and put special effort on showing this in the music. Thanks again Kpopalypse, I can always count on you.

  2. that isn’t really “frenchface” is it?
    Frenchface is just bitch face isn’t it?
    when someone mentions French people all that comes to mind is someone with a bitch face looking down on others

    the SJW term of what you were going for would be cultural appropriation of the French

  3. lol, I think it may be some time before AJ publishes another article of yours on his site. He banned me following some comments I made on his Mamamoo article.

    Oh, and my you have a lot of girl-in-beret pictures…

  4. Okay, I know it’s a joke, I know it’s got something to do with the whole Mamamoo doing bruno mars blackface thing, but who is it exactly aimed at, I’m sorry IR idiot. Ididn’t follow this whole mamamoo thing all that much, so did something happen to escalate the hate or whatever generally happens when some people get butthurt?

    Last I recal blackface is supposed to offensive and stuff, again sorry IR idiot.

    • The whole issue with blackface comes from American sensitivity, apparently stemming from their so-called minstrel shows from many decades ago that were incredibly racist and featured blackface comedians. The problem here is that it has become bon ton on the internet to project this sensitivity on other cultures (like Korean or Dutch) that do not share the same history with minstrel shows and do not necessarily find blackface offensive.

      The Social Justice Warriors (SJWs), a group of young, extremely progressive Americans that have taken it upon themselves to protect minorities from whatever slight the SJWs perceive might hurt them, are especially active trying to pressure groups like Mamamoo to conform to their standards. They do this with a typical lack of understanding of other cultures and unnecessary vitriol that I personally find deeply unpleasant.

      Kpopalypse in all his wisdom has turned this process on its head by comparing it to frenchface showing how relative the perceived offensiveness of blackface really is. I believe it’s aimed at other people that get uncomfortable around SJWs and their crusades. Not at the warriors themselves, as they are closed of to criticism and do not care much for humour or common sense.

  5. As a proud Frenchman born, raised and still living in Paris around those famous vintage cafés, I must bow before you, sir Kpopalypse ! From this article’s every single word emanates a stirring truth ! I must have seen around 5 berets (on actual living heads) in 32 years, and I would happily bet my balls on the fact that they were tourists :>

    Concerning this “racism” issue, well, I must say that I can’t name a single French guy (that I know ofc) who would find this deeply offensive, or even racist. It’s funny, we like joking about how foreigners impersonate us, as much as we like picturing Australians as kangaroo-eating sunburn-covered surfers sleeping between car-sized spiders and deadlier-than-hitler snakes/jellyfishes/whatever breathes in your scorching hot desert. What we don’t like is, as you said, being told over and over again that we’ve been crushed twice by the Germans (in fact, 3 times if you count the 1870s war where we lost Alsace-Lorraine, that being the reason why this region still has a deep germanic culture).

    Nevertheless, thank you for standing up against French haters, you’re once more the paragon of truth ! Love ya, cunt ❤

    • If americans like me can take being told we’re responsible for most of the wars in the past 100 years, the invention and perpetuation of slavery, and that we’re all fat rednecks with a painful lack of awareness of other cultures around the world, then the french can take it being pointed out that germany has defeated them military every time you’ve fought for the last 150 years.

  6. As an actual parisian french person, I agree that frenchface is EXTREMELY offensive. Don’t hesitate to appropriate british culture though, those fucking snobbish roastbeefs deserve it.

  7. I think you misunderstand the importance of blackface and completely miss the point by comparing it to this imagined scenario of “frenchface.”

    [edits to MRS]

    Hopefully I have provided some perspective for y’all to consider!

    • Sorry but holy living mother of fuck I had to edit that. I think I need to impose a maximum comment length somehow. Anyway I read it all and I might address some isolated points later if I can find a way to actually make a response interesting to read.

      • Sorry, just had a lot of thoughts after reading this. Here’s a condensed sparknotes version of what I wrote (roughly corresponding to each image):

        1. Intent and consequence of an action are two different things. Mamamoo might have meant well, but blackface is still at its core a racist act and carries a painful history that they could not even begin to comprehend.
        2. Don’t dismiss people for being too sensitive. Usually just means you’re being insensitive and not recognizing the full extent of the problem. If people didn’t make an issue out of problematic things, we’d never have the end of slavery, civil rights, etc.
        3. We should be offended because racism is bad. What happened in the past is important, because societies are always grounded in its traditions. Racism happens to be one of America’s traditions, and blackface a key part of that tradition. Not to mention how such a performance may reinforce harmful stereotypes in Korea.
        4. You demand sjw’s take things less seriously, by pointing out inconsistencies in their position, mocking their intelligence, etc). I demand that we take racism seriously in all instances.
        5. Forgot to address this earlier, but people don’t become passionate about social justice because they feel guilty. That’s honestly pretty insulting. I think racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. are bad things, so I speak out against them.

        Looking forward to your next post! I enjoy your blog quite a bit, but sometimes the sjw mocking gets to be a bit much.

        • That’s still way too fucking long but I’ll leave it unedited this time because at least you tried! Thanks for continuing to read even though you have issues with some of the content.

        • Just wanted to comment on your first argument.
          If you think Korea knows nothing about slavery and painful histories, maybe you should crack a fucking book.

  8. (This is auxiliary beauty from ask.fm, btw. I don’t know why wordpress limits the ways I can sign in to comment!)

    I get the intent of your post: you don’t want the Mamamoo scandal to blow up into a T-ara-esque witch hunt, especially because the members’ intentions probably weren’t bad. The thing is, there’s a difference between a) acknowledging that blackface is harmful and Mamamoo made a mistake, and b) going full SJW and hounding the group out of the entertainment industry. Your post suggests that you can’t have a) without b), which is simply not true. Now, is it a problem that some k-pop fans won’t accept Mamamoo’s apology and will continue bringing this up for the next decade whenever the group is mentioned? Maybe, but letting it slide is a bigger problem. If Mamamoo wants to appeal to international fans (and they do–they’re planning a world tour), they can’t afford to be ignorant about this stuff.

  9. Thank you for creating this seemingly much-loved post that i can calmly link to, so i don’t have to waste my own time explaining why my eyes glazed over while trying to read other articles and posts about this. You even have some comments that directly demonstrate the issue at hand 😐

  10. 1) I laughed.

    2) I do think this argument is better deployed against charges of “cultural appropriation” than specifically against blackface, which sits at the nasty intersection of Asian valuing of lighter skin and the loooong American history of making popular entertainment out of slavery. (To put it another way: as best I know it’s damn rare to put on blackface without meaning to pretend to be darker-skinned / of African descent. I can only think of one exception, the Ganguro trend in late-90s/early-00s Tokyo.)

  11. First, you can read the Z. Rothschild studies you cited on Academia.edu, instead of only being able to read that broad-ass abstract. The studies have some flaws in their application, and even the authors don’t conclude that moral outrage is fueled only (or primarily) by selfish urges.

    Even ignoring the questionable paper, the issue of “moral outrage” and the reasons for its expression should also examine the effect it has– no matter what the person is thinking who is expressing that outrage, does it benefit or hurt society? Outrage can be applied to derive negative effects (Russia’s growing outrage at “gay propaganda” leading to criminalization of gayness and violence against the LGBT community) or it can have beneficial effects (getting the white majority to support the civil rights movement in the US). In this case, I don’t feel like the outcome is negative: a company and group had to say “Whoopsie, I’m sorry” in exchange for the benefit of making sure people they’re selling to don’t feel hurt by their content.

    • I had to come back to this article to compliment this comment. While I don’t agree that kpopalypse is an idiot, I really admire the succinct, direct beauty of this comment. Not being sarcastic! I could stand to learn from you.

  12. This is stupid as fuck. How is it even called French face, when 1- they’ve got the most slanty eyes ever, 2- it’s a hat. Hat goes on head. Not face. and 3- Who. The hell. Gives. A. Flying. Bagguette’s. Ass.?

    The more you find to be offended by, the worse the world becomes. Thank you for this ridiculousness and good job on the brainwashing your’re doing to your followers. My god.

  13. lol’d.

    I once argued with a moron on r/kpop that every idol that has their hair dyed blonde is culture appropriating and got mass-downvoted. This was during the Truedy ‘black face’ fiasco. The people who have their heads so far up their arse can’t tell that there are countless things in every culture that was appropriated from somewhere.

    Majority of Western kpop fans are young and extremely liberal. SJWs make very good entertainment.

    • The SJW-ness of Kpop fans makes me roll my eyes so often when it comes to meeting new kpop people. It’s impossible to have another opinion, much less an identity that doesn’t follow their alignment. I am a gun store manager, but I don’t bring it up around my kpoppier friends.

  14. This is the most stupid thing I have ever read. It’s a fashion statement. What mental disorder do you have that you can derive anything else but that? Fashion is not exclusive to the country it came from. I can’t even believe I have to say this.

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