The Academy Awards this year were riven by accusations of racism, due to the absence of black nominees from many of the key awards. As a result, a number of high-profile African-American stars, including Will Smith, boycotted the event. The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was widely used on Twitter.
This was why the joke by Chris Rock, the host, involving three Asian children was found so jarring on social media. Many thought that Asian-Americans, and Chinese-Americans, were the minority that had been left out of the debate.
Playing with a stereotype about Asians being good at math, Chris Rock welcomed onto the stage three Asian children as representatives of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the auditing and accounting firm.
They walked onto stage sheepishly in suits, clutching black briefcases.
Rock ended the joke with the remark: “If anybody’s upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone, which was also made by these kids.”
Online writers jumped on the joke as an example of racism in an awards ceremony that suffered a great deal of controversy precisely because of allegations of racism—against black people.
As time of writing, there has been very little response on China’s social media. On Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, one user with the name Yang Yuzhi from the United States, expressed anger at how Rock “had made a fool of Asians as only able to do math, accounting, using child labor to make phones.” This “makes one furious,” the user wrote.
Jeremy Lin, the former Knicks phenom and currently plays for the Charlotte Hornet, wrote on his Facebook page “Seriously though, when is this going to change?!? Tired of it being ‘cool’ and ‘ok’ to bash Asians smh.” The post has gotten over 31,000 likes and 3,200 shares.
Twitter users seemed to express similar frustrations. A sampling of tweets on the matter is below.
— Grace Hwang Lynch (@HapaMamaGrace) 2016年2月29日
WHAAAAAAAT was that joke with the Asian kids. #Oscars
— Angry Asian Man (@angryasianman) 2016年2月29日
As the mother of two Asian American kids I was saddened by that stupid stereotyping last night, esp using children. https://t.co/MFzoVLdePz
— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) 2016年2月29日
So we’re all upset about the racial makeup of the Oscars but it’s OK to make fun of Asian kids onstage?
— Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) 2016年2月29日
Still so discouraged by Chris Rock’s Asian jokes tonight. Why step on our necks when we’re already so invisible? And to little kids at that.
— Jenny Han (@jennyhan) 2016年2月29日
The Oscars: “We’re doing everything we can to prove we’re not racist.”
Asian kids on stage: “Um.”
— Kenny Coble (@KennyCoble) 2016年2月29日