Rufus Hound issues apology while ‘having a cry’ as pantomime poster sparks backlash

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Rufus Hound, 42, took to his Twitter account this week, where he is followed by more than one million people, to share his devastation after he was accused of racism. The comedian was accused of wearing “racist make-up” in the photograph, where he was characterised as magician Abanazar in the panto Aladdin, which will open at Peterborough’s New Theatre in December.

In a string of tweets, Rufus explained he “completely understands” why people are outraged.

He wrote: “So, let me please say to anyone who has seen the poster for the Panto I’m doing in Peterborough this Christmas.

“Please understand that there was no designer or makeup artist on that COVID depleted shoot.

“I dressed myself and was handed eyeliner to put on, as the final image needed me to look forebodingly down.

“I was neither instructed how to do it or what to do, but instead and I swear on the lives of my children this is true… just tried to make my eyes as menacing as possible.

“I drew one black line on my under-eye and extended it out a bit, so it looked weirder and, in my head ‘more warlocky’.

“I then put the pencil down and we got going.”

Rufus explained that “at no point did I think it was yellowface or anything near, as the character of Abanazar isn’t Asian in origin at all. I swear – that’s why it never crossed my mind”.

He continued: “Seeing it now, I get it. There’s a long association between chinoiserie and this show, even though the story is Arabic.

“I see that, with white actors having so often used eye shape as a racist dogwhistle, the image resonates with that racism for many.”

The comic also explained that he was “hurt” over being accused of racism and that it was something that “kills his soul”.

He wrote: “I was sat here, having a cry and not knowing what to do about it, so I thought I’d just tell you lot. The thing I just wanted to tell you is that being turned on by your own tribe f***ing hurts.

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“To have people whose voices I listen to and amplify assume the worst of me absolutely kills my soul.”

Some Twitter users took to the social media platform to express their outrage over the poster, with one pleading: “Please stop doing productions of Aladdin, stop perpetuating racial stereotypes, and my god don’t put Rufus Hound in eyeliner and identifiably South Asian costume.”

Another user wrote: “Panto Season is basically a nationwide anti-Asian public humiliation campaign.”

Earlier this year, the actor was at the centre of controversy after a string of historic tweets he purportedly sent resurfaced.

According to The Sun, Rufus told one follower to “suck my b***s, r****d” and branded singer Ed Sheeran a “gay lord” for spending a day “writing songs and walking round the hills of Aberfeldy”.

In an exchange with Iranian-born British comedian Shappi Khorsandi he wrote the p-word without starring it out.

Shappi had compared a fan telling her, “You’re the only female comic I find funny” to being told “You’re the only p*** that makes me laugh.”

Rufus added: “Yeah. There’s loads of funny vadgekeepers and loads of funny p***s ffs. You tell ‘em Shapps.”(sic)

Addressing the backlash in a series of tweets, Rufus said his previous tweets were “stupid and hurtful” but stressed that comedy was “darker and edgier then”.

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