×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Academy Apologizes for Asian Jokes on Oscars, Vows to Be More Sensitive

UPDATED: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences apologized on Tuesday for the Asian jokes on the Feb. 28 Oscar telecast, after receiving a protest letter signed by 25 AMPAS members, including Ang Lee.

An Academy spokesperson issued the statement, “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.” 

The letter asked for “concrete steps” to ensure that future Oscarcasts will avoid the “tone-deaf approach” to Asians that was exhibited last month. The protest was delivered in advance of today’s board meeting, where the Oscar show and issues of diversity are undoubtedly on the agenda. The missive was sent to the board, AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, CEO Dawn Hudson, and ceremony producers Reginald Hudlin and David Hill.

The letter said, “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.”

In addition to Lee, other Oscar winners on the list include Chris Tashima (shorts and feature animation) and four members of the documentary branch: Ruby Yang, Steven Okazaki, Jessica Yu and Freida Lee Mock. Aside from Mock, two other former governors signed, Don Hall (sound branch) and Arthur Dong (documentaries). Another three signers were Oscar nominees: Christine Choy, Renee Tajima-Pena and Rithy Panh, again all docu-branch members.

Other signers were Yung Chang, documentary; Maysie Hoy and William Hoy, editors; Marcus Hu and Teddy Zee, executives; Janet Yang, producers; David Magdael and Laura Kim, PR; and six members of the actors branch: Nancy Kwan, Peter Kwong, Jodi Long, France Nuyen, Sandra Oh and George Takei.

According to the International Energy Agency, Asians represent 4.3 billion, or 60% of the population. However, they are estimated to represent less than 1% of the Academy.

Sources close to the show told Variety that Chris Rock made decisions about his material (including a series of jokes about Asian children), while Sacha Baron Cohen’s crack was apparently ad-libbed. However, at a time of heightened sensitivity with racial matters, many viewers were shocked that old Asian stereotypes were trotted out for a laugh.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Antonio Banderas Actors on Actors

    Antonio Banderas Reveals How His Priorities Changed After His Heart Attack

    Antonio Banderas used his recent heart attack to fuel his performance in Pedro Almodóvar’s film “Pain and Glory.” Banderas — who suffered a cardiac arrest two years ago — discussed how it fueled his performances and changed his priorities during a conversation with former co-star Eddie Murphy (“Dolemite Is My Name”) for “Variety Studio: Actors [...]

  • Robert Pattinson Twilight Was Weird

    Robert Pattinson Finds the Whole ‘Twilight’ Premise 'Weird'

    While speaking with Jennifer Lopez for Variety’s Actors on Actors series, Robert Pattinson confessed that the blockbuster “Twilight” series always struck him as a profoundly “weird” saga. “It’s a weird story, ‘Twilight.’ It’s not just like – it’s strange how people responded a lot to it. I guess the books are very romantic, but at [...]

  • Robert Pattinson

    Robert Pattinson Says Actors Only Go Method When They’re Playing A--holes

    Robert Pattinson is no fan of method acting, as he told Jennifer Lopez during an interview for Variety’s Actors on Actors series. Discussing his work in the nightmarish drama “The Lighthouse,” Pattinson revealed the psychological challenges that come with playing a character who slowly descends into madness. “It was a kind of no limit part, [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez Batman Actors on Actors

    Robert Pattinson Thinks Jennifer Lopez Would Make an 'Awesome' Batman

    From his iconic portrayal of a lovestruck vampire in the “Twilight” series to his latest role as a disturbed lighthouse keeper in director Robert Eggers’ frightening drama “The Lighthouse,” it’s clear that Robert Pattinson is drawn to playing dark and brooding characters. While that might make his casting as Bruce Wayne in Matt Reeves’ upcoming [...]

  • Always Be My Maybe

    Cinema Inspires Chefs at Variety's Food to Table Event at Napa Valley Film Festival

    The Variety Film to Table event at the Napa Valley Film Festival on Nov. 14 showcases some of the best chefs in the region, and their dishes that have been inspired by films. Mark Caldwell DISH: Tiger prawn noodle salad, pickled carrots, sesame-ginger vinaigrette Executive chef Caldwell creates dishes at David Estates winery, where his [...]

  • Keeley Hawes to Star in Untitled

    Keeley Hawes to Play Patricia Neal in Film About the Star and Roald Dahl (EXCLUSIVE)

    Keeley Hawes will star opposite Hugh Bonneville in a film about the Oscar-winner Patricia Neal and her husband, author Roald Dahl. Formerly known as “An Unquiet Life,” and based on Stephen Michael Shearer’s book of the same name, the family drama starts filming this week in Surrey, southern England. John Hay directs. He co-wrote the [...]

  • Eddie Murphy Antonio Bandares Variety Actors

    Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas Share More in Common Than 'Shrek'

    Antonio Banderas (“Pain and Glory”) and Eddie Murphy (“Dolemite Is My Name”) sat down for a chat for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” For more, click here.  Antonio Banderas takes on the role of his career as the director who discovered him in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory,” playing a fictionalized take on Almodóvar sorting [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content