Chris Rock put white Hollywood on blast last month during the 88th Annual Academy Awards with an opening monologue that coined the phrase “sorority racism” and referred to the ceremony as the “White People’s Choice Awards.” However, not every joke landed and there were a few missteps along the way including an awkward moment when the comedian brought Stacey Dash out on the stage for a Black History Month joke.
Perhaps his biggest mistake came while ironically making an offensive joke of his own while pointing out Hollywood’s racism. In case you forgot, he brought three adorable Asian kids to the stage and described them as the "dedicated, accurate, and hard-working" accountants of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the company that helped count the Oscar ballots. He went on to say that anyone offended by that should tweet their complaints on a phone that was probably made by them.
In response, 25 prominent Asian figures including George Takei and Academy Award winning director Ang Lee co-signed an open letter to Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, CEO Dawn Hudson, members of the board of governors and producers David Hill and Reginald Hudlin about the "tasteless and offensive" jokes made during the live broadcast, Mashable reports.
Dear Cheryl, Dawn, Members of the Board of Governors, Reginald and David:
We are writing as Academy members of Asian descent to express our complete surprise and disappointment with the targeting of Asians at the 88th Oscars telecast and its perpetuation of racist stereotypes.
In light of criticism over #OscarsSoWhite, we were hopeful that the telecast would provide the Academy a way forward and the chance to present a spectacular example of inclusion and diversity. Instead, 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 and what process you have in place to preclude such unconscious or outright bias and racism toward any group in future Oscars telecasts.
We look forward to hearing from you about this matter and about the concrete steps to ensure that all people are portrayed with dignity and respect.
We are proud that the Oscars reach several hundred million people around the world of whom 60% are Asians and potential moviegoers.
Don Hall, Sound Branch, John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation, Academy Governor, 18 years
Freida Lee Mock, Documentary Branch, Academy Award winner, Academy Governor, 6 years
Arthur Dong, Documentary Branch, Academy Award nominee, Academy Governor, 4 years
Ang Lee, Directors Branch, Two-time Academy Award winner
Chris Tashima, Shorts and Feature Animation Branch, Academy Award winner
Christine Choy, Documentary Branch, Academy Award nominee
David Magdael, Public Relations Branch
France Nuyen, Actors Branch
George Takei, Actors Branch
Janet Yang, Producers Branch
Jessica Yu, Documentary Branch, Academy Award winner AMPAS
Jodi Long, Actors Branch
Laura Kim, Public Relations Branch
Marcus Hu, Executives Branch
Maysie Hoy, Film Editors Branch
Nancy Kwan, Actors Branch
Peter Kwong, Actors Branch
Renee Tajima-Pena, Documentary Branch, Academy Award nominee
Rithy Panh, Documentary Branch, Academy Award® nominee
Ruby Yang, Documentary Branch, Academy Award winner
Sandra Oh, Actors Branch
Steven Okazaki, Documentary Branch, Academy Award winner
Teddy Zee, Executives Branch
William Hoy, Film Editors Branch
Yung Chang, Documentary Branch
An Academy spokesperson has come out to address the letter, saying: "The Academy appreciates the concerns stated, and regrets that any aspect of the Oscar telecast was offensive. We are committed to doing our best to ensure that material in future shows be more culturally sensitive."