Scott Disick and Brody Jenner are under fire after using their social media accounts to promote Gradient, an app that changes the appearance of people’s skin color.
According to the app’s website, Gradient uses AI technology to show users what they would supposedly look like if they were “born on a different continent.” In an ad for the app, a model is shown using the newest feature to imagine herself as Brazilian, Asian and Indian (as the filters are labeled in the app).
Disick and Jenner recently promoted this specific feature of the app on their social media accounts.
“You need to try this new feature in the Gradient app, it’s crazy,” Jenner wrote in a now-deleted tweet alongside photos of himself imagined as African, Asian and Indian. The same post remains up on Instagram, though comments are disabled.
“Tried new filters in the Gradient app. Which one is better?” Disick similarly wrote in a now-deleted tweet. Attached to his post were photos of himself using the Europe, Asia and India filters.
Though Disick and Jenner took down their original posts on Twitter, both celebrities have since reuploaded their filtered faces on the platform and turned off comments. Based on the updated posts — both of which include the hashtag #ad — it appears that the two reality TV stars were paid to promote the app and its new feature.
Social media users quickly responded to both Jenner and Disick, noting that the app — and the celebrities’ posts — were “racist.”
“You can’t just ‘try on’ someone’s ethnicity for fun,” one person said. “Do you understand that black face is wrong? Apply that logic here. Plus you can’t generalise like this, India is in Asia.”
“There’s god awful and then there’s this,” another added.
“‘Let’s see how I would look if I was born another race’ is racist as h***,” a third person said. “Changing your ethnicity for ‘fun’ is making a mockery of that ethnicity.”
Seeing as both Disick and Jenner are white, many critics noted that the Gradient filters were a form of digital blackface, which occurs when a non-Black individual uses technology to “‘try out’ a Black identity online.” It’s also a prime example of two white males profiting off of Blackfishing, a term popularized by writer Wanna Thompson to describe the “alarming” action of white celebrities pretending to be Black via hairstyles, makeup, fashion and, in this case, filters.
Neither Disick nor Jenner have publicly responded to the backlash.
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