Chris Rock Takes Blame For Oscars Asian Joke: Academy Knew It Was Coming, Rehearsed In Front Of Hundreds

Chris Rock has been under fire for his joke about Asians for nearly three weeks now. And the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has apologized for Rock’s offensive and stereotypical remarks only now, according to CNN.

Chris Rock made stereotypical remarks about Asians while hosting the 88th Academy Awards ceremony on February 28. The 51-year-old comedian’s remarks came when he was thanking the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers for counting this year’s Oscars results.

Chris Rock introduced on stage PricewaterhouseCoopers’ “most dedicated, accurate and hard-working representatives,” and three Asian kids – two boys and one girl – came onto the stage wearing black suits.

That remark referred to the stereotypical description of Asians, who are perceived as very smart, educated, and hardworking people. But Chris Rock, who has been a comedian for over three decades, expected the joke might get him in trouble, which is why he continued his joke.

“If anybody’s upset about that joke just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids.”

On March 9, such prominent Hollywood figures of Asian origin as actor George Takei, actress Sandra Oh, director Ang Lee, and a number of others sent an open letter to the Academy, in which they complained about Chris Rock’s stereotypical joke. They said in the letter that the joke perpetuated an offensive, racist, and overused stereotype.

Lee, Oh, Takei, and a number of other high-profile Asian figures within Hollywood who were offended by Chris Rock’s joke also said in the letter that they were “hopeful” that the Academy would present “a spectacular example of inclusion and diversity” in light of criticism over #OscarsSoWhite.

A number of celebrities refused to attend this year’s Oscars after no black or minority actors were nominated in the four Academy Awards acting categories for the second year in a row. This fact triggered the #OscarsSoWhite campaign on social media, in which people urged the public to boycott the ceremony.

Chris Rock’s stereotypical joke about Asians even prompted Lee, Takei, Oh, and 23 others offended by it to say that the Academy is now 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 and what process you have in place to preclude such unconscious or outright bias and racism toward any group in future Oscars telecasts.”

Over a week after the letter was sent, a spokesperson for the Academy apologized for Chris Rock’s racist joke, saying that the organization understands the “concerns stated, and regrets that any aspect of the Oscar telecast was offensive.”

The spokesperson also added that the organization will from now on aspire to be more “culturally sensitive” in its future telecasts. However, as noted by a Hollywood source, the Academy has made Chris Rock the scapegoat to save its reputation, according to Page Six.

“This is massive hypocrisy on the part of the academy.”

The anonymous source noted that the Academy knew about the joke long before it came out of Chris Rock’s mouth during the ceremony on February 28. The source explained that this joke was rehearsed by Rock with the child actors “in front of over 100 people” before the ceremony, adding that the Academy’s reps as well as actors’ “guardians or agents” were present during rehearsals.

He also noted that nobody had a problem with Chris Rock’s stereotypical joke about Asians during rehearsals. And the Academy knew “what they were getting,” when they made the decision to hire Rock as the host of the ceremony. It’s because the comedian pushes the boundaries, according to the source. He also added that there is “so much turmoil” within the Academy at the moment.

[Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images]