You’re not looking at an embarrassing old picture of the Prime Minister of Shawn Mendes’ native country. It’s from Camila Cabello’s appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Friday night, in which she performed her latest single “Don’t Go Yet.” It didn’t take long after the episode aired, that Camila was forced to turn the energy of that “Don’t Go Yet” performance into “Don’t go accusing me of putting a dancer in blackface.” According to Camila, even though it really REALLY looks like it, it’s not what it looks like.
Camila claims that the whole performance was supposed to have a tacky 80s party theme. A choice that appeared really difficult to commit to, considering we’ve got 80s, but we’ve also got some 1970s key party. Camila’s dress looks pure 90s, but maybe that’s because it looks like a butchered version of Brenda and Kelly’s Spring Dance dress. Still, it’s supposed to be a cheesy 80s-inspired performance for what is set to be the lead single from her forthcoming album Familia. Around the 2:17 mark, our questionable dancer pops up on Camila’s right, and he caused plenty of people to wonder if Camila’s team was trying to fill a diversity quota in the absolute worst way possible
From the still image above, you can see that the dancer is likely wearing a wig and heavy bronzer. But in the actual broadcast, the lighting isn’t turned up so high, and so the dancer definitely comes across in a way that probably gave at least one person a flashback to C. Thomas Howell’s past filmography. Especially since a little digging showed that the dancer in question, Dylan Pearce, definitely doesn’t look like that in person, according to E! News. So Camila addressed the situation as follows, saying that Dylan the Dancer was just supposed to be a white guy with a comically terrible spray tan:
Camila Cabello addresses backlash after a dancer of hers was accused of performing in blackface on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. pic.twitter.com/8jZDWNYGNm
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) July 24, 2021
She also argued that there were dancers of all races present, and no one was trying to make everyone look “Latin.” True. Because right off the top of that performance, there’s a dancer looking like Hillary Rodham Clinton at the 1993 Inauguration, and it doesn’t get much whiter than that.
Some people online were not so quick to accept Camila’s clarification, and mostly because Camila has been accused in the past of saying, typing, or re-blogging racist stuff on Tumblr back in the day (it’s something she’s acknowledged and publicly apologized for).
Let’s just say that no matter the excuse, it’s probably not a great idea to ever put someone in makeup that doesn’t match their skin tone. But especially when your argument for doing so doesn’t hold water (or oil-based self-tanning pigment). Camila said they slapped on a ton of spray tan because it was an homage to the 80s. That might be someone’s version of the 80s. But come on, everyone knows that if the whole joke is about a douchey party-loving white dude who has clearly tested the limits of how much spray tan the human epidermis can absorb, you’d set your performance in…whatever year Jersey Shore premiered.