Academy Apologizes After Ang Lee, Others Condemn Oscars’ ‘Tone-Deaf’ Anti-Asian Jokes

By Sameer Rao Mar 16, 2016

Last month’s #OscarsSoWhite ceremony caused tremendous controversy—not least of all because of tired jokes about Asian child laborers during a show that otherwise completely erased Asians and Asian Americans in Hollywood. The Academy (sort of) apologized for those jokes yesterday (March 15), but not until after 25 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members of Asian descent (including Ang Lee and George Takei) signed a letter to the Academy’s board and leadership condeming the jokes.

"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," read the letter, which you can read in full via Angry Asian Man. It also referred to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy with the following lines:

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.

Signees addressed the letter to Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, CEO Dawn Hudson, Oscars producers Reginald Hudlin and David Hill and the Academy’s Board of Governors. It was delivered ahead of a board meeting. 

The Academy issued a response via The Hollywood Reporter yesterday, 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."

Angry Asian Man printed an additional letter from Hudson to the 25 signees, which reads: "It certainly was never the Academy’s intent to offend anyone" and "it pains us that any aspect of the show was considered offensive, and I apologize for any hurt the skits caused." She also promised to do better.

(H/t Angry Asian Man, The Hollywood Reporter, Vanity Fair