By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent
Prompted by a sharply worded letter by 25 Asian American members of the Academy about the “perpetuation of racist stereotypes” about Asians, the group behind the Oscars has apologized for a skit by Chris Rock and jokes made by Sacha Baren Cohen during the telecast.”
An Academy spokesperson told the The Hollywood Reporter “The Academy appreciates the concerns stated and regrets that any aspect of the Oscar telecast was offensive. We are committed to doing our best to ensure that material in future shows be more culturally sensitive.
In the letter signed by George Takei, Oscar winning director Ang Lee, Arthur Dong, Nancy Kwan, Sandra Oh and a host of others, the group stated “The Oscars show was marred by a tone-deaf approach to its protrayal of Asians.
“We’d like to know how such tasteless and offensive skits could have happened and what process you have in place to preclude such unconscious or outright bias and racism toward any group in future Oscar telecasts.”
In the telecast, three Asian children portrayed accountants of the Academy, an offensive take on the stereotype that all Asians are good at math.
Cohen’s jokes played off the stereotype that Asian men have small penises.
Early on in the telecast, Rock urged anyone offended by the jokes to complain.
Complain was exactly what many Asians did, taking to social media to protest not only the ironic timing of the joke given that Rock was there to help counter the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, but his exclusion of all except Blacks and Whites in his discussion of diversity.
Rock stuck to the Black-White paradigm on race, leaving out any concerns for Asian Americans and Hispanics.
It’s unfortunate it took a letter from Academy members themselves to prompt the apology. Both Hollywood and general news outlet have been full of stories about the Asian American community’s displeasure with the tone of the telecast.
When a big name and ego such as Rock is involved, Hollywood can often walk on its tiptoes. That is no excuse for letting this issue linger weeks after the telecast, which was among one of the lowest rated in recent years.
Hollywood continues to present movies that don’t reflect society and go so far as to use White actors to portray Asian roles. This lack of respect for six percent of the American population hardly goes with Hollywood’s image of being a bastion of liberals. Apparently Hollywood is only liberal when it comes to White issues. They can’t see beyond their black and white lens.
The issue should not end with this apology. While the controversy over the jokes on the Oscars may have been put to rest, the lack of diversity in Hollywood movies remains. We must continue the discussion until movies are presented in full living color.
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