*Twenty-five members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who are of Asian descent — among them two-time best director Oscar winner Ang Lee — have sent a letter to the organization protesting “tasteless and offensive skits” about Asians that were part of the 88th Academy Awards on Feb. 28, including one joke from host Chris Rock.
The jokes were made during a ceremony at which #oscarssowhite and the lack of African American acting nominees dominated Rock’s comedic material.
The jokes that have members of the Asian community most upset: a skit in which Rock introduced three Asian children as Academy accountants, and comments ad-libbed by presenter Sacha Baron Cohen that insinuated Asians have small genitalia, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The letter was delivered to the Academy ahead of Tuesday’s monthly Board of Governors meeting. It was addressed specifically to Board of Governors president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, CEO Dawn Hudson and Oscar producers Reginald Hudlin and David Hill. It references several articles that criticized the Academy’s jokes about Asians, and asks for “concrete steps” to “preclude such unconscious or outright bias and racism toward any group in future Oscars telecasts.”
The letter’s signatories are Oscar winners Lee (directors branch), Mock, Steven Okazaki, Ruby Yang, Jessica Yu (documentary branch) and Chris Tashima (shorts and feature animation branch); Oscar nominees Dong, Christine Choy, Rithy Panh and Renee Tajima-Pena (documentary branch); and Nancy Kwan, Peter Kwong, Jodi Long, France Nuyen, Sandra Oh, George Takei (actors branch), Yung Chang, (documentary branch), Marcus Hu, Teddy Zee (executives), Maysie Hoy, William Hoy (film editors branch), Janet Yang (producers branch), Laura Kim, David Magdael (public relations branch) and Hall (sound branch).
Magdael told The Hollywood Reporter, “When that skit came up in the middle of the Oscars, we all went like, ‘What?’ There was a collective, ‘That didn’t just happen.’ We found a lot of people who said, ‘We’re not going to accept this sort of joke anymore,’ especially right after Cheryl Boone Isaacs gave that speech about diversity.”