Despite an Academy Awards ceremony focused on addressing issues of diversity in Hollywood, Asian Americans expressed outrage on social media after two jokes that poked at stereotypes. The comments, one by host Chris Rock during a skit and another by comedic actor Sacha Baron Cohen under his Ali G persona, were particularly notable due to the controversy surrounding the #OscarsSoWhite theme.
Rock's skit drew the most ire. In a rehearsed bit involving the tabulation of Academy Awards votes, he introduced the would-be PriceWaterhouseCoopers representatives overseeing the count. “They sent us their most dedicated, accurate and hard-working representatives," he said. "Please welcome Ming Zhu, Bao Ling and David Moskowitz."
Three kids of Asian descent, dressed in suits and carrying briefcases, walked toward center stage. Following a muted response from the crowd, Rock added: "If anybody’s upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids."
When comedian Chris Rock took to the Dolby Theatre stage to start the Oscars telecast Sunday night, the track “Fight the Power” by rap group Public Enemy played in the background. That same song, used by Spike Lee to cap his seminal film “Do the Right Thing,” also played at the end of the show as the credits rolled. Both instances were a reminder, comedic or otherwise, to keep pushing for greater diversity prompted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' mostly white list of nominees for a second year in a row. And fighting the power is what the #OscarsSoWhite movement plans to continue doing.
Here are the ways some proponents of increased diversity believe the conversation can continue now that awards season is over.
During a comedy bit on the 88th Academy Awards Sunday night, Chris Rock said he trekked to a Compton movie theater to interview black moviegoers about largely white Oscar contenders.
The resulting segment got big laughs as Rock asked cinema fans if they had seen, or even heard of, movies like "The Big Short," "Brooklyn" and "Bridge of Spies."
But there was one problem with the routine — that theater isn't in Compton. Rock's video, filmed about a week before the ceremony, actually took place in front of the Rave Cinema 15 (formerly Magic Johnson Theatres) at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.
Patricia Clarkson, sitting on a couch bleary-eyed at the late hour, seemed amused by the gaggle of tall, pretty girls. Less concerned was "Love" star Gillian Jacobs, who was hanging out with "Game of Thrones" star Emilia Clarke.
Jacobs was more interested in getting some beignets. While waiting for her ride, she grabbed a bag of the Bouchon donuts — guests were given to-go packets upon exiting — and tossed a few in her mouth. And that's how you end an award season right.
No real surprise here, the most popular Instagram videos to be created on Oscars night include a celebrity puppy, Cate Blanchett and her diamonds, Reese Witherspoon doing shots, and Diddy instructing his followers on how to keep their "glows."
As established over the last few months of #OscarsSoWhite coverage and controversy, Hollywood diversity is an issue that inspires much passion within the entertainment industry and beyond.
But matters of diversity aren’t a trending topic, they’re a conversation that’s been going on for decades. Even in Hollywood. Even at the Oscars.
At the 49th Academy Awards held in 1977, 39 years ago, Richard Pryor (after a seven-minute interpretive song-and-dance number by Ann-Margret) opened the Oscars with a searing monologue that lampooned the lack of African American representation at the awards while a primarily white audience nervously tittered.
For as much was written speculating about what this year’s Chris Rock-hosted Oscars might look like, it’s doubtful many prognosticators predicted an appearance of Black History Month’s sworn enemy Stacey Dash.
Dash, best known for her work in 1995’s “Clueless,” now spends her days as a cultural contributor for Fox News, where she was suspended in December 2015 for using profanity in reference to President Obama while on the air. More recently, Dash stoked the flames of controversy with statements in response to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that suggested that BET and Black History Month should be done away with in the interest of equality.
So when Dash took the stage at Sunday’s Oscars, under the guise of “director of minority outreach,” the joke didn’t just flail, it sank like a stone.