Academy Apologizes for Asian Jokes During Oscars (Updated)

25 AMPAS members, including George Takei and Ang Lee, express “complete surprise and disappointment” in strongly worded condemnation

The Motion Picture Academy apologized on Tuesday for jokes made about Asians during last month’s Oscars ceremony.

“The Academy appreciates the concerns stated, and regrets that any aspect of the Oscar telecast was offensive,” says an Academy spokesperson. “We are committed to doing our best to ensure that material in future shows be more culturally sensitive.”

Dozens of Academy members issued a letter to Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and CEO Dawn Hudson earlier in the day expressing their concerns.

“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,” said the March 9 letter signed by Ang Lee, George Takei, Sandra Oh and 22 other Academy members, former Oscar winners and nominees.

During the controversial segment from the February awards show, host Chris Rock brought three Asian children carrying briefcases onto the stage, posing as “bankers” from finance firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“They sent us their most dedicated, accurate and hard-working representatives,” he said. “Please welcome Ming Zhu, Bao Ling and David Moskowitz.”

“If anybody’s upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids,” Rock added.

The letter demanded a response from the Academy, saying, “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.”

Read the full letter below. The Academy did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

March 9, 2016

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, President
Dawn Hudson, CEO
Members of the Board of Governors
Reginald Hudlin and David Hill, Oscars® Producers
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
8949 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

RE: “Oscars: Why Make Cheap Jokes at the Expense of Asians?”
(Hollywoodreporter.com)
“The Oscars anti-Asian racism was alive and well.”
(PsychologyToday.com)
“Asian-American Jab at Oscars reveals deeper diversity woes”
(Associated Press, Salon.com)

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.

Sincerely,

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

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