This year’s Oscars have already been presented, but controversy is still causing ill-will.
The problems for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences began when African-Americans expressed their discontent with the paucity of nominations for people of color.
The latest complaint comes from George Takei and other Asian-Americans and concerns a skit by host Chris Rock at the ceremony. In the skit, Rock “introduced three children of Asian descent as Academy accountants.” To add insult to injury, Sacha Baron Cohen “insinuated that Asians have small genitalia.”
“The damage that stereotypes can do is enormous, and for the Academy that touted the Oscars as an Oscars about diversity to define the word “diversity” as black and white left me aghast,” said Takei. “I mean, diversity means much more than black and white. It means Asian-Americans, it means Latinos, it means LGBT people, it means Native-Americans, it means — particularly in today’s context — Arab-Americans.
“And yet it was a show in black and white — black-and-white pictures, like going back a half-century. I was astounded at the obliviousness and the ignorance of the Academy people with regard to the notion of stereotypes. And then they perpetrated that in today’s context: They had Asian children dressed in tuxedos with briefcases as numbers-counters, which is a stereotype that Asians have today. Back in those days, we were depicted as merciless villains or obsequious servants or buffoons to be laughed at. And then, in that same skit, they talked about Asian children making computers and iPhones — har, har, har. I mean, for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is supposed to be made up of distinguished people — the elite of the motion picture industry — to be so oblivious and so ignorant of the worst stereotypes and the damage, the profound damage, that they can do? Watching the show, that just gnawed at me.”
Takei would like a formal apology from the Academy. “We want changes made,” he said. “We are, first of all, owed an apology for this kind of demonstration, so that’s the first step. The next step is to see how they perform next year on the awards.”
An Academy spokesperson said, “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.”