In response to accusations over Hollywood's "whitewashing," rapper Dumbfoundead (born Jonathan Park) released a new music video to call out the lack of diversity from movie to television screens.
"Safe," which superimposes Dumbfoundead as the lead role in films and shows including “Pirates of the Caribbean" and "The Brady Bunch," critiques the lack of Asian-American representation in Hollywood and specifically references the Academy Awards ("The other night I watched the Oscars / And the roster of the only yellow men were all statues").
“The title ‘Safe’ is a reference to how I felt Asians and Asian Americans were being perceived: the model minority that’ll take it and smile, the punching bag of America,” Dumbfoundead told NBC News, adding that he wrote the song shortly after February's Academy Awards, where host Chris Rock came under fire for using three Asian-American children onstage as part of a joke.
He added, “I wanted to flip the script on the conversation everybody was having about the whitewashing of Hollywood and 'yellow-wash' some of the most iconic films starring white male leads."
The conversation about "whitewashing" has been a frequent topic on social media recently, with hashtags such as #StarringJohnCho, #MyYellowFaceStory, and #whitewashedOUT bringing actors and audiences together on Twitter to discuss the problems.
"#StarringJohnCho is about igniting a conversation about how Asian-Americans are perceived in today's Hollywood landscape and our greater society," William Yu, the 25-year-old digital strategist behind #StarringJohnCho, told NBC News earlier this month.
In addition to the current conversations occurring online, Dumbfoundead told NBC News "Safe" was not just a music video observing a problem, but commenting on something he's experienced himself. “I have been to many auditions where they wanted me to speak in an 'Asian accent' and I understand when the role requires that, but there were so many roles where the accent wasn’t necessary,” he said. “It only showed me the perception of what Hollywood thinks of us.”
Despite sitcoms such as “Fresh off the Boat” and “Dr. Ken” starring Asian-American families on network television for the first time in decades, Dumbfoundead added that “it’s important we keep having this conversation and having Asian-American artists coming from different mediums to express their want for change.”
With three solo albums under his belt, Dumbfoundead said he hopes to push the conversation even further with his latest song. “I think I have a responsibility to speak up for my community,” he said. “‘Safe’ was definitely my proudest song to date especially cause it wasn’t for me but for all of us.”