The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has admitted that it made a mistake when it green lit an Asian joke to be aired during the Oscars 2016 telecast last month.
Us Weekly reports that the joke in question was a skit that involved three Asian children who were dressed as the accountants who supposedly tabulated the award results. The skit was full of quips about child labor and those jokes rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.
That skit wasn’t the only one that seemed to unfairly target Asians. During the Oscars 2016 telecast, Sacha Baron Cohen, best known for playing Borat, said the following while he was on stage.
“How come there’s no Oscar for them very hard-working, little yellow people with tiny dongs? You know, the Minions.”
Us Weekly reports that high profile Asian members of the Academy — like Sandra Oh and George Takei — wrote a letter in protest of a joke that was included at the Oscars which they deemed derogatory.
“I was astounded at the obliviousness and the ignorance of the Academy,” George Takei told The Hollywood Reporter. He also said that he thought it was “a disastrous oversight on their part.”
The Academy responded to the furor surrounding the jokes with a written statement where they apologized for the elements of the show that people found offensive. They also vowed that they would be more culturally sensitive in the future.
“The Academy appreciates the concerns stated, and regrets that any aspect of the Oscar telecast was offensive,” the statement read. “We are committed to doing our best to ensure that material in future shows be more culturally sensitive.”
However, Takei, in his interview with The Hollywood Reporter, said the issue is bigger than the Oscars and the Academy in general.
“There needs to be more understanding that this is a diverse, global audience that they’re playing to, and they’ve got to tell stories from the vantage point of that diversity, not just black and white,” Takei said. “That is not the meaning of diversity; that’s going back half a century.”
The Academy took a lot of heat this year for the lack of racial diversity in the Oscar nominations. Only white actors were nominated for awards which led to the creation of #OscarSoWhite. The hashtag became a major source of headlines in the lead up to the Academy Awards, as actors like Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith threatened to boycott the ceremony over the issue.
This year’s Oscars host, Chris Rock, addressed #OscarsSowhite in his opening monologue.
“I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards,” the popular comedian quipped. “You realize, if they nominated hosts I wouldn’t even get this job. You’d be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.”
But he also criticized the black actors who decided to boycott the show.
“Jada [Pinket Smith] got mad, Jada said she’s not coming, protesting … Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited. Oh. That’s not an invitation I would turn down.”
Social media reception to the monologue was mixed, with some people in favor of Rock’s jokes, while others thought he went too easy on The Academy.
— Miss Virg (@muzikbox212) March 4, 2016
You know what, whether I agree with Jada’s boycott the Oscars campaign, That Chris Rock monologue was…. a problem
— WonderWomanist (@Breliloquy) March 8, 2016
Chris Rock’s monologue holds up pretty well on a 2nd viewing, especially the Kevin Hart material. The Rihanna gag was terrible. #Oscars
— Dennis Earl (@DennisCEarl) March 6, 2016
So I’m late to the party but damn Chris Rock has the best Oscars opening monologue so far
— Annalise Chikiting (@AicaLeesi) March 5, 2016
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]