Snapchat has made some interesting filters recently like dog faces and face swap. But the 420 filter that allows users to change their face to Bob Marley is beyond offensive and has been called out for being a “black face” filter.
The filter is in light of 420 and is trying to honor Rastafari legend Bob Marley, but it’s efforts fall a little short. The filter gives you both dreadlocks and also gives you a black face, which sounds as insensitive as you would think.
The problem that Snapchat doesn’t recognize is that Bob Marley’s deep rooted faith isn’t just about recreational cannabis use. Rastafari beliefs and specifically Bob Marley beliefs held cannabis to a higher level as being, “a sacred herb.” It wasn’t just about getting a little buzz, which is what the Snapchat filter suggests.
Also, the filter is plain racist and insensitive. The dreadlocks of Bob Marley represented strength and the feeling of being close to Africa. The filter is appropriating them to make them seem that they were just the haircut of a regular cannabis smoker. The dreadlocks have a real meaning behind them that is voided in the filter.
The filter also gives anyone a black face. By doing this we are reducing the legacy of Bob Marley to just a pot smoker, not mentioning his contributions to peace or to lyrical music. The filter also reduces the legacy of the black Rastafari culture to just a butt of a joke.
Celebrities are receiving backlash for using the filter as well.
Queen of the selfie Kylie Jenner has been called out for using the filter to literally darken her skin tone, which is the equivalent of old time black face.
Snapchat has fired back at people who have called this filter racist by stating,
“The lens we launched today was created in partnership with the Bob Marley Estate, and gives people a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music. Millions of Snapchatters have enjoyed Bob Marley’s music, and we respect his life and achievements.”
However, they have yet to respond to the outcry that this isn’t simply just about Marley, but the whole smoking community as a whole.
The cannabis lover and legend through this filter has been made into a joke, and is a stereotype of the cannabis community. Not to mention that using black face to show support for 420 is also incredibly insensitive and racially uncomfortable. C’mon Snapchat, you can do way better.