Billy Crawford, Coleen Garcia criticized for ‘cultural insensitivity’ in Ethiopia prenup shoot
A destination photo shoot of celebrities Billy Crawford and Coleen Garcia has recently gone viral for more than the dramatic shots and artsy fashion that they sported.
Their prenup photos taken in Ethiopia looked like they belonged in a magazine editorial, with shots showcasing both the photographers’ and couple’s artistry.
But certain photos caught netizens’ attention, particularly those with locals in the background. Perhaps with the intention to showcase Ethiopia and its people; in one shot, the TV hosts were flanked by children, and in others, both women and children were in the background as the couple posed.
Netizens in Twitter weighed in on how the Ethiopians were featured in the photographs. One, @AlfonsoLabrague, believes that the couple appeared to be boasting their privilege as they were in the foreground and locals were blurred away.
“While you are being culturally insensitive, you’re telling the world how privileged you are,” he tweeted. “You can always have pre-nup shoots without being racist.”
i love creative and artsy pre-nup shoots but to use Ethiopian people as props & space fillers is very problematic
while you are being culturally insensitive, you're telling the world how privileged you are
you can always have pre-nup shoots without being racist
— fifironi pizza 😋 (@AlfonsoLabrague) March 10, 2018
“I don’t see at all why we should admire a prenup photoshoot making background props out of Ethiopian women & children,” said another netizen, @therachelravana.
I don't see at all why we should admire a prenup photoshoot making background props out of Ethiopian women & children pic.twitter.com/pU78nC1Af8
— ® (@therachelravana) March 10, 2018ADVERTISEMENT
“It’s always important to ask yourself if you’re objectifying and reducing the dignity of the subjects,” noted another, @rcktchester. “Hindi pwedeng ‘aesthetic value’ lang (It can’t always be just for aesthetic value).”
It’s always important to ask yourself if you’re objectifying and reducing the dignity of the subjects in your photograph when you take pictures. Hindi pwedeng ‘aesthetic value’ lang. https://t.co/00yg9kttCm
— Chester Louie (@rcktchester) March 10, 2018
For @lastjedies, the photo shoot “perpetuates dehumanization and exoticization of other cultures… it’s an act of disrespect and ignorance.”
i'm really FUCKING UPSET that filipino celebrities billy crawford and colleen garcia have the audacity to use locals from another country as props in their prenup shoot. it perpetuates dehumanization and exoticization of other cultures+
— geene (@Iastjedies) March 10, 2018
The photos were also compared to an old cover of men’s magazine FHM, way back in March 2012, where Bela Padilla “stepped out of the shadows” as she was surrounded by black women.
While Hollywood is taking the revolutionary path by making movies like Black Panther & Moonlight, here we are utilizing black people as BACKGROUND for photoshoots of fair-skinned celebrities. pic.twitter.com/ridwPKIZj3
— Thea Reodica (@SeaweedHeart) March 10, 2018
The offending photos have since been taken down from the viral post of ABS-CBN promoter Nhoie Gurrobat.
Gurrobat stated in the post’s comments section, “Hindi kaya kayo yung racist sa pag-oover-analyze n’yo ng mga bagay-bagay tulad nito… kayo yung may issue sa mga blacks at mababa yung tingin sa kanila?”
(Couldn’t it be that you are the racists for over-analyzing things like this? That you’re the ones who have issues on blacks and have a low regard for them?)
Gurrobat claimed that they intended to show the beauty of “Ethiopian kids and culture,” and that Ethiopia wasn’t as poor as other African nations. Gurrobat quoted a Wikipedia article on the economy of Ethiopia to prove his point.
“Hindi naman mukhang gutom ang mga batang yan at kahit papano, ayos naman ang suot nila. tapos naka pose din naman sila at nakatingin sa camera,” he said, referring to the photo where the children are blurred out as they stood around Garcia and Crawford. (They don’t look hungry, and at least in some way, their clothes are decent. They’re posing and looking at the camera.)
In one of his comments, he claimed to quote photographer Oly Ruiz. “We talked to these people and even asked permission. It’s actually offensive for people to interpret them as props. Why slaves? Because they are Africans? Dapat ba pinag-gown din namin sila? These people are beautiful, how they are shot is how they are in real life, if you see them as slaves then I feel bad for you.”
Crawford, who initially had a picture of them and the children on his Instagram page, has also deleted said picture.
Metrophoto has yet to release an official statement on the matter. INQUIRER.net welcomes its side on the issue. JB
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