Oscars Kid Unfazed by Asian Joke, Mom Not So Much

'This was not OK and should never have happened'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2016 8:46 AM CST

Little Estie Kung has never seen Chris Rock's work (not even Madagascar) and doesn't quite understand the ins and outs of child labor. So when the 8-year-old child actor and chef (she's competed on FYI's Man vs. Child: Chef Showdown) became the center of a controversy swirling around one of the comedian's jokes at the Oscars, she shrugged it off, PRI reports. But her family isn't quite so understanding. The joke: Rock introduced Estie and two other Asian-American child actors as the "most dedicated, accurate, and hard-working representatives" of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the firm that safeguards voting for the Oscars, per the Los Angeles Times. He followed that with: "If anybody's upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids."

The joke caused all kinds of backlash, including from Taiwanese-American actress Constance Wu and NBA player Jeremy Lin, who tweeted, "Seriously though, when is this going to change?!? Tired of it being 'cool' and 'ok' to bash Asians." Estie's mom, Laura Kung, admits that during Estie's audition, "I did wonder, 'Why all Asians?' But I assumed there was a bigger picture, a more complex joke given all the emphasis placed on diversity at the Oscars this year." When she and Estie's dad heard the entire joke at the show's rehearsal, after the contract was signed, they reluctantly let their daughter go ahead with it. "This was not OK and should never have happened," says Kung. "But the angrier people are and [the] more people talk about it, the better it will be moving forward." As for Estie, when asked whether Rock's joke was funny, she says, "Kind of, kind of not." (Rock's monologue got mixed reviews.)

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