A Bob Marley Snapchat filter on 4/20? For reasons not entirely clear, Snapchat apparently thought this was a great idea. One can almost imagine someone pitching this during a meeting, being met with an enthusiastic thumbs-up from whoever is in charge of giving out thumbs-up, then strutting back to the confines of his or her desk to celebrate a seemingly victorious pitch. The only problem, of course, is that this pretty much amounts to digital blackfacing.
Aside from the fact that Marley himself is not actually connected with the 420 vibes at play in this filter, many have taken offense at the fact that Snapchat‘s apparent effort at a tribute belittles the iconic figure’s impact on a variety of social causes. Snapchat, however, argues in a statement to Gawker that the filter was developed “in partnership” with the late legend’s estate:
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.
Aaisha Dadi Patel, writing for the Daily Vox, calls the ill-advised filter a “form of blackface, cultural appropriation, and totally problematic.” According to Patel, Snapchat‘s move reduces Marley’s legacy to simply “smoking weed.” Estate-approved or not, Snapchat surely could have come up with a better way to honor the multifaceted legacy of Bob Marley than this.