The 88th Oscars were a topic of much controversy this year because of the lack of diversity. The biggest argument against the Oscars was the lack of representation for blacks. Although there had been no nominations for black actors and actresses this year, many people failed to see that the lack of diversity is not merely a black and white issue. The AAPI community receives limited to none nominations. In addition, there is often no wins in the AAPI community for acting. The last time a AAPI woman was nominated for best actress was 1935, Merle Oberon didn’t even receive a win. The AAPI community has limited to none speaking roles in films. Not only that, our speaking roles often are reduced to mere racial caricatures developed by the white man.
The Oscars were #sowhite this year which was especially emphasized when it came to the racist jokes casually thrown around. The unnecessary black jokes were already enough of a deal breaker, but the AAPI jokes were the last straw for many in the AAPI community. The most major mention of the AAPI community was during Chris Rock’s segment.
Chris Rock’s segment included three small Asian children going on stage where he had proceeded to crack jokes about them. These children were supposed to represent bankers from Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC).
He stated “They sent us their most dedicated, accurate and hardworking representatives, please welcome Ming Zhu, Bao Ling, and David Moskowitz.” He ended his joke with “If anyone’s upset with that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was made by these kids.”
This joke especially sparked anger among our community because of the crack at the aged stereotype that all AAPI are good at math.This stereotype has led to limited to none focus upon AAPI children in school. With limited focus, AAPI children fall behind.
In addition, it’s concerning that Rock found it appropriate to laugh about child labor. It’s disgusting that he chose to make three oblivious young children the subject of ridicule in front of a large international community.
“Let’s talk about how three little Asian kids went up on stage in front of thousands of Hollywood millionaires and were laughed AT (not with) BECAUSE of their race” Rainer Maningding of LLAG (Love life of an Asian Guy)
To make a deeper evaluation of Chris Rock’s joke Dolly Li of Medium.com says:
“Reinforcing the stereotypes that have kept yellow people under the bamboo ceiling and invisible in American society seems pretty ironic for a man who spent much of the evening chewing out Hollywood for its lack of black representation. No, it’s not Chris Rock’s job to uplift and empower Asian-Americans (or any other minority, for that matter). But to insult them while demanding equal opportunities for other underrepresented groups is hypocritical and counterproductive.”
As mentioned before in the first paragraph, the limited representation for our community isn’t just a situation found in the Oscars. It’s all over the industry. We are barely ever represented in film or on TV, and when we are we’re typically stereotyped. How do AAPI youth thrive in a society where practically our only representation is through the mocking of our community? It’s time that AAPI are seen as everyday people. Our stories need to be told without the white man trying to erase us with yellow face or their versions of our lives. Our stories and our lives matter.