‘Colorism?’ Vice Ganda defends Ivana Alawi’s appearance in upcoming MMFF entry

October 11, 2022 - 12:40 PM
Ivana Alawi and Vice Ganda
Ivana Alawi and Vice Ganda in the teaser of Star Cinema's upcoming comedy film "Partners in Crime" as uploaded on ABS-CBN Star Cinema's YouTube. (Screengrab by Interaksyon from YouTube/ABS-CBN Star Cinema)

Actor-comedian Vice Ganda defended his upcoming comedy film with actress-vlogger Ivana Alawi which received criticism for perceived colorism due to her skin tone in the film.

Star Cinema on Monday released a teaser of Cathy Garcia-Molina‘s “Partners in Crime” which is an entry to the 2022 Metro Manila Film Festival.

The story revolves around a former couple who will meet each other again before figuring in a crime. It will show how they will survive the situation while having an unsettled issue between them.

“‘Partners in Crime’ is basically mag-ex na nagkita ulit, only to be maishoot sa isang krimen. How they will survive and how they will get out of the situation, while they’re fighting as exes,” the director said, describing the plot during a story conference.

Vice said that the audience will feel lots of emotions upon watching the movie.

“Iba-iba ‘yung maramdaman nila sa pelikulang ‘to. May tawa, may kurot sa puso… marami siyang sangkap. Maraming lasa. Hindi lang Vice Ganda brand, hindi lang Vice Ganda experience. May Ivana experience, may Cathy Garcia experience. This is not a Vice Ganda movie. This is a Vice Ganda-Ivana-Cathy Garcia movie,” he shared.

Star Cinema released its teaser on its social media accounts on October 10, where it earned mixed reactions.

Among them were criticisms about the “colorism” due to Ivana’s character who is usually fairer in her photos and vlogs.

In the teaser, she is portrayed as having a darker skin tone with curly hair.

“‘Pag eto nagka-make over ta’s naging straight ‘yung buhok… Lordddd, nags-start pa lang ako makakita ng maraming tao na ina-accept ‘yung curly hair nila, step backwards na naman po ata ang magaganap,” a Twitter user wrote in response to the clip.

Vice responded and said that there is nothing wrong with a curly-haired person desiring to have straighter hair.

“Anung mali ‘pag ginusto at pinili ng isang taong kulot ang buhok na ipaunat ang buhok [niya]? Walang mali sa kulot. At wala ring mali kung gusto [niyang] ipaunat ito. Ang mali ay ang baluktot ang pananaw mo at nagpapanggap kang tuwid! Ang mali ay [‘yung] ang nega nega nega mo!!!!!” he tweeted.

Another Twitter user hoped that the movie would not make fun of the physical appearance of Ivana’s character.

“As a curly-haired morena, I pray na walang part sa movie na gawing katatawanan ang looks ni Ivana. Otherwise, it’s gonna be offensive for me. And disappointing towards Vice Ganda,” she wrote.

“Makakaasa kang walang [ganoon],” Vice responded.

Another Pinoy argued that the criticisms are rooted in the fear that Ivana’s character might undergo a “makeover” and will be transformed into someone with straight hair and fairer skin and then be perceived as more beautiful.

“Have u watched the film yet? Girl, [four] sequences pa lang nashu-shoot namin. Don’t stress [yourself],” Vice said in response.

Criticisms of colorism center on online users arguing that TV and movie creators should hire actors who naturally exhibit certain appearances like darker skin tones rather than cast someone fairer and use makeup to change their skin tone.

According to the critics, hiring such actors is “proper representation.” Others, however, said that changing cast members may compromise the quality of the film if the talent’s acting skill is perceived as less than stellar.

Meanwhile, Cathy is known for having female lead stars wear wigs in her movies. Those who have sported such were Liza Soberano, Sarah Geronimo, Bea Alonzo and Kathryn Bernardo.

According to the director, product endorsements prevent cast members from having to cut, curl or color their hair.

“Kaya po naka-wig mga artista ko lagi, e. Kapag may shampoo commercial, bawal pagupitan, bawal pakulayan, bawal kulutin, bawal lahat,” the director said in 2017.