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Academy Issues Apology After Ang Lee, Sandra Oh, George Takei Send Letter of Protest Over Oscar Telecast's Asian Jokes

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Santiago Felipe/Getty;Walter McBride/WireImage;Michael Stewart/WireImage

Twenty-five members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who are of Asian descent sent a joint letter to the organization this week protesting what they called “tasteless and offensive skits” about Asians at the Oscars on Feb. 28.

Two-time Best Director Oscar winner Ang Lee, Star Trek alum George Takei and Grey’s Anatomy star Sandra Oh are among those who signed the letter, which was delivered ahead of Tuesday’s Board of Governors’ meeting.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the letter asked for “concrete steps” to “preclude such unconscious or outright bias and racism toward any group in future Oscars telecasts.”

Specifically, the trade reports the group was most angered by a skit host Chris Rock introduced that featured three Asian children as Academy accountants, and a line presenter Sacha Baron Cohen seemingly ad-libbed that hinted at Asians having small genitalia.

The letter points out that they hoped in a year when the Academy was addressing the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, that they would not be so “tone-deaf” to the depiction of their community.

“I was astounded at the obliviousness and the ignorance of the Academy people with regard to the notion of stereotypes,” Takei told The Hollywood Reporter. The actor added that he expects the Academy to apologize “for that shameful presentation” and that the signers of the letters will “be watching the next Academy Awards very closely.”

In response to the letter, an Academy spokesperson said in a 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 brief letter, which the Reporter published in full, is addressed to Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, CEO Dawn Hill, Oscars producers Reginald Hudlin and David Hill, and members of the Board of Governors.

It references three articles that addressed the controversy: “Oscars: Why Make Cheap Jokes at the Expense of Asians?” (Hollywoodreporter.com), “The Oscars anti-Asian racism was alive and well” (PsychologyToday.com) and “Asian-American Jab at Oscars reveals deeper diversity woes” (Associated Press, Salon.com).

Here ‘s the letter in full:

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.