Takei, Other Asian Academy Members Blast Oscars' Asian Jokes

Letter to Academy calls skits on awards show 'tasteless and offensive'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2016 8:26 AM CDT
Takei, Other Asian Academy Members Blast Oscars' Asian Jokes
In this April 28, 2015, file photo, George Takei arrives for a state dinner for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

The child actors who were part of a joke about Asians on Oscars night seem unperturbed by the ensuing controversy, but more than two dozen members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who are of Asian descent feel otherwise. Per the Hollywood Reporter, 25 members—including director Ang Lee, actress Sandra Oh, and actor George Takei—penned a letter to the Academy criticizing the "tasteless and offensive skits" about Asians during the Feb. 28 broadcast, including a joke by host Chris Rock that referred to the three Asian child actors as accountants and a swipe from presenter Sacha Baron Cohen that seemed to poke fun of Asians' genitalia. The note was delivered to the Academy, including President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, before a monthly board meeting Tuesday.

"When [the child actor] skit came up in the middle of the Oscars, we all went like, 'What?'" one of the letter's signees tells the Reporter. In the letter, the members express "surprise and disappointment" at the mockery and call for "concrete steps" so that such a "tone-deaf approach" doesn't happen again, reports Variety. "If you watched the Oscars, the word diversity seemed to mean black and white. That was it," Takei tells the Los Angeles Times. "I grew up in prisons behind barbed-wire fences largely because of those stereotypes." Variety notes that Asians make up a mere 1% of the Academy membership, per International Energy Agency stats. The organization's official response so far, per a rep: The Academy "regrets that any aspect of the Oscar telecast was offensive" and will try to have "more culturally sensitive" material in future shows. (More Oscars stories.)

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