February 29, 2016

Asian jokes at 2016 Oscars

If the Oscars were all about diversity, why the crude Asian joke?

By Jessica ContreraChris Rock opened his monologue by saying he’d never be the host if he had to be nominated for the job. We all got the joke—Chris Rock is black, and for the second year in the row, not a single actor nominated for an Oscar was black.

But they also weren’t Asian or Latino. Representation is a problem in Hollywood for all minorities, but all night long, the show’s jokes focused almost entirely on the problem as it pertains to black people.

During a sketch in which Rock altered top movies to include actors of color, he chose Whoopi Goldberg, Leslie Jones and Tracy Morgan. Stacey Dash wished everyone a happy Black History Month. Kevin Hart joked, wasn’t it about time they put him in the front row?

There was a lack of diversity in the lack of diversity. This became most apparent when Rock brought three Asian children to the stage, posing as “bankers” from finance firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Chris Rock's Oscars joke about Asian American accountants stirs outrage

By Randall RobertsDespite an Academy Award ceremony focused on addressing issues of diversity in Hollywood, Asian Americans expressed outrage on social media after two jokes that poked at stereotypes. The comments, one by host Chris Rock during a skit and another by comedic actor Sacha Baron Cohen under his Ali G persona, were particularly notable due to the controversy surrounding the #OscarsSoWhite theme.

Rock's skit drew the most ire. In a rehearsed bit involving the tabulation of Academy Awards votes, he introduced the would-be PriceWaterhouseCoopers representatives overseeing the count. “They sent us their most dedicated, accurate and hard-working representatives," he said. "Please welcome Ming Zhu, Bao Ling and David Moskowitz."

Three kids of Asian descent, dressed in suits and carrying briefcases, walked toward center stage. Following a muted response from the crowd, Rock added: "If anybody’s upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids."

And react they did, many wondering how the gag made it out of the writers room.
“Yellow people with tiny dongs”?: The Oscars have more than one diversity problem—and it shows

Tasteless jokes about Asians put a damper on what was otherwise a joyous celebration of diversity

By Sonia Saraiya
Last night’s 88th Academy Awards was a major platform, at the center of Hollywood’s glitterati, for a discussion of diversity in Hollywood. As I wrote last night, host Chris Rock made that the focus of the evening, paying an equally self-righteous and self-mocking attention to the contributions of black performers in Hollywood, from Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles to outspoken black conservative Stacey Dash as the Oscars’ “diversity outreach coordinator.”

But diversity in Hollywood isn’t just about black artists and performers in Hollywood. Writer Kelly Oxford observed on Twitter last night, “There have been more droids on the Oscar stage than Latinos or Asians,” after three “Star Wars” robot-characters rolled out and spoke or beeped to the audience. First Nations actors were only highlighted through their supporting roles in “The Revenant,” which nabbed both the Best Actor and Best Director awards.

And to add insult to injury, rather too much of the Oscars telecast mocked Asians and Asian-Americans. It’s one thing for a black host to play with stereotypes of both white and black people to create a commentary on inclusion in the Academy Awards, especially when notable roles by black performers were not recognized by the Academy. It is another for that same host—and that predominantly white show—to turn to making jokes about another marginalized race, as if that somehow neutralizes the issue.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Recapping the 2016 Oscars and Facebooking the 2016 Oscars.

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