Anyone who has loyally watched Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley make a mockery out of the fashion and celebrity world in their hit long-running television show, Absolutely Fabulous back in the nineties will know that these two actresses don't take themselves very seriously. Yet, times have definitely changed and so have some people's perceptions of certain jokes, and that's why Saunders herself is being forced to defend her new film of accusations of racism.
According to the Guardian, some people in the entertainment industry - including actress Margaret Cho - aren't laughing over a character in the new Ab Fab film named Huki Muki. The 'Japanese' fashion designer is played by Scottish actress Janette Krankie. Some are saying that this hints at the old Hollywood practice of "yellowface" casting in which a white actor is hired to play an Asian character.
Cho said on Twitter in December, "I love AbFab but #YELLOWFACE is something I cannot watch - I just can't. It's sad when heroes are no longer heroic. Too bad. #racism."
Yet, Saunders insists that's not the case here.
She told the newspaper, "The whole film is about people being what they're not. 'd always thought it was going to be Janette because I just thought that was hilarious. Huki Muki is a brand, she is the designer and she looks a bit Japanese, but the moment she opens her mouth she's from Glasgow. It was just a silly little joke - in no way are we pretending she is Japanese, no yellow makeup or slitty eyes or any silliness."
Saunders added, "This nonsense that everyone can be offended by the idea of someone else being offended by something. It's just ridiculous."
Absolutely Fabulous hits theaters on July 22.