Last Sunday, February 28, 2016, the 88th Academy Awards took place. Millions of Americans across the United States tuned in to see who would go home with an Oscar this year. All eyes would be on Leonardo DiCaprio, an actor who, over the past 12 years, has been nominated for the Best Actor Award numerous times, but never won it. History changed that night, as DiCaprio finally went home with an Oscar for his lead role in The Revenant.
Though the 88th Academy Awards is primarily watched for the aforementioned, this year’s ceremony was also watched because of racial tension tied to it. For the second year in a row, it was branded as being “overly white,” causing the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag to trend. Politically correct protests, spurned by Al Sharpton, were held outside of Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California, the venue for the event. What’s worse, said racial tensions were present despite the Academy’s attempts of diversity improvement.
Apparently, diversity improvement does not extend to Asians for the Academy. At the 88th Academy Awards, a race joke was used for the entertainment of white and black people, which mocked Asians with a child labor joke.
For those who missed the stereotypical Asian joke at the 88th Academy Awards, Chris Rock announced that the results of the night’s awards were tabulated by a fictitious accounting firm. Rock continued, saying the firm sent over their three best accountants to the awards to take care of business. Suddenly, three Asian children in business attire joined Rock on stage, much to the delight of white and black people in the audience.
The Asian joke was peculiar, given the racial tension surrounding the Academy and their awards ceremony. One can even say it was kind of an oxymoron. Nevertheless, the joke was made in bad taste, perpetuating stereotypes of Asians being proficient in mathematics and exploiting children for cheap labor, as reported by Vulture. Anthony Berteaux, an Asian-American who is the SDSU Campus Editor at Large at the Huffington Post, detailed thoroughly criticized the joke, explaining its fallacy, through the video below.
Anthony Berteaux is not the only Asian-American (or Asian in general) who found the joke to be insulting. NBC reported numerous Twitter responses, mostly from people of Asian ethnicity, on the joke. What is ironic is that Chris Rock himself told people to tweet about the joke if it upsets them, though he went the extra mile by saying the phones they are tweeting on are “also made by these kids.”
Think my brain shut down for a few minutes. Did that appalling joke about Asian kids actually happen? #Oscars
— Justin Chang (@JustinCChang) February 29, 2016
They played off Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy talking about honor killings but they gave Chris Rock 45 seconds for that bit??
— Kat Dennings (@OfficialKat) February 29, 2016
In the wake of the Asian joke used, many Asians suddenly took up the mantra of the Academy and their awards showing a lack of diversity for Asian and Asian Americans. This is debilitating because Asians are considered an even smaller minority, not just in Hollywood, but in the United States too.
How unnecessary to make fun of Asians on the #Oscars when Hollywood isn’t even evolved enough to give Asians Asian-specific roles yet.
— Jen Chae (@frmheadtotoe) February 29, 2016
— Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) January 22, 2016
In conclusion, the reason why the Asian joke is not getting as much attention in comparison if it were any other non-White minority (especially black people), is because most people do not care. Apparently, that is now changing because Asians, especially Asian Americans, are starting to take a stand. And even though the 88th Academy Awards dropped the ball with the Asian joke, they at least diversified their presentation in which Priyanka Chopra, Lee Byung Hun, and Dev Patel presented. Also, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy picked up her second Oscar for her documentary, A Girl in the River.
Ultimately, the Academy is slowly and surely diversifying, which is far better than doing nothing at all. It should be expected that an establishment, entity, or group that has “been white for so long” would have a hiccup every now and then.
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]