Prominent Asian Film Figures Send Open Letter To The Academy Protesting Racist Joke

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Chris Rock may have blasted Hollywood during the Oscars for its alleged bigotry but now he’s under fire for his own ‘racist joke’. 

Last month, during the 88th Annual Academy Awards, Rock roasted Hollywood with a hilarious opening monologue that coined such genius phrases as ‘sorority racism’ and accurately referred to the ceremony as the ‘White People’s Choice Awards’.

However, the night wasn’t without controversy and, ironically, Rock himself has been accused of making an offensive joke of his own while pointing out Hollywood’s racism.

For the gag in question, he brought out three young Asian kids and described them as the ‘dedicated, accurate, and hard-working accountants of PricewaterhouseCoopers’, the company that helped count the Oscar ballots.

Rock then joked that if anyone was offended by his comments then they should tweet their complaints on a phone that was probably made by the kids as well.


In response to the misjudged joke, 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, Complex reports.

Here’s the letter in full:

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.

Cheryl_Boone_Isaacs_87th_Oscars_Nominations_AnnouncementCheryl Boone Isaacs - Wikimedia

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 since 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.

You’d think the Academy would have learnt its lesson by now…