Twenty-five Academy members of Asian descent, including three former members of the Board of Governors, have sent a letter to the organization protesting “its perpetuation of racist stereotypes” at the Oscars on Feb. 28.
At a ceremony designed to explore Hollywood’s problems with diversity, host Chris Rock brought three Asian children on stage and presented them as the “most dedicated, accurate, and hard-working representatives” of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm that tallies Oscar votes, before making a joke about child labor in Asia. Later in the show, Sacha Baron Cohen made a thinly veiled dig about Asian men’s supposedly small genitalia.
“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,” the letter reads. “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.”
The letter also mentions the “several hundred million people around the world” who watch the Oscars, “of whom 60 percent are Asians and potential moviegoers.” This alludes to China’s growing influence at the box office; the country is expected to overtake North America as the world’s largest movie market in 2017.