Chris Rock Jokes Gone Too Far? Academy Apologizes, But Was It Enough?

The Academy has offered its apologies for the jokes comedian and Oscar host Chris Rock made about Asians during the Academy Awards telecast three weeks ago. Some who watched the broadcast, however, are wondering why the jokes about Asians were the ones to be singled out.

Both director Ang Lee and actor George Takei have blasted the Oscars for the jokes Chris Rock made about Asians, according to Page Six. In a letter signed by Lee, Takei, Sandra Oh, and 23 others, Chris Rock and the Academy as a whole was hammered for the perpetuation of racial stereotyping as a whole.

“We are writing as Academy members of Asian descent to express our complete surprise and disappointment with the. . . perpetuation of racist stereotypes,” read the letter. “The Oscars show was marred by a tone-deaf approach to its portrayal of Asians. We’d like to know how such tasteless and offensive skits could have happened.”

According to Vanity Fair, Chris Rock brought some Asian children on stage as fake Price Waterhouse accountants, which is one of the skits that prompted the response from the Asian community. In a statement March 15, the Academy said it was working on trying to ensure future shows were more “culturally sensitive.”

Chris Rock seemed to acknowledge that the joke might be a bit tasteless during the telecast, as he said, “If anybody’s upset about that joke just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids,” according to CNN Money.

Takei told the Hollywood Reporter that he thought the Academy’s decision to allow Chris Rock to go ahead with the jokes apparently made at the expense of the Asian community really irritated him.

“I mean, for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is supposed to be made up of distinguished people — the elite of the motion picture industry — to be so oblivious and so ignorant of the worst stereotypes and the damage, the profound damage, that they can do?” he wondered.

Takei said that the purpose of the letter addressing Chris Rock’s jokes during the Oscars was to encourage further diversity, and he expressed hope for increased diversity in the motion picture industry, particularly in the wake of controversies such as Oscars So White. Takei believed that the approval of Chris Rock’s jokes did nothing to demonstrate the understanding of the word diversity as it came to the global community that would be watching the Oscars broadcast or the pluralistic nature of the United States population.

Takei also said that Chris Rock, as a member of a minority, should have known better than to engage in humor that only continues the racial stereotypes seen in the media and in the world, and added that it seemed as though the comedian was “complicit” in the furthering of the belief that stereotypes were only black and white.

He also addressed the issue of the boycott by some of the stars, saying that a boycott by members of the Asian community would do nothing to stop the lack of diversity being seen in broadcasts like the Oscars. Takei seemed to express a great deal of faith that the Academy would take ownership for the apparent error in letting Chris Rock continue with jokes that only made stereotypes against the Asian community more prevalent.

“They’re intelligent people,” Takei said. “It was a disastrous oversight on their part. I’m sure there will be an apology. These are people that are sensitive and understanding.”

For his part, Chris Rock has not addressed the Academy’s apology as yet.

[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]