Ahead of the Oscars, the biggest drama surrounding the Academy's annual ceremony was the #OscarsSoWhite fiasco, in which no actors of color were nominated for any of the four major acting categories.
Chris Rock — who hosted the awards this year — had no choice, really, but to address the controversy, which he did throughout the ceremony and most definitely in his opening monologue.
But while the Academy promised to make sweeping changes to diversify its membership after two years of #OscarsSoWhite, another PR headache related to diversity struck during the telecast.
Namely, two jokes found offensive to Asian-Americans: one in which young Asian kids were "cast" as accountants, playing into the stereotype that all Asians are good at math, and a second made by actor Sacha Baron Cohen, suggesting Asian men had small genitalia, NBC News reports.
Now, members of the Academy, who are of Asian descent, have penned a letter that was delivered Tuesday to its Board of Governors, as well as President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, CEO Dawn Hudson, and Oscars TV producers Reginald Hudlin and David Hill, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Among the signees are Ang Lee — who scored two Oscars for directing Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi — Grey's Anatomy's Sandra Oh and George Takei of Star Trek fame, all taking aim at the "tasteless and offensive skits" that were featured during the February broadcast.
"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."
The group remains hopeful that the Academy will implement some thoughtful changes to avoid a repeat of this embarrassing situation, especially given that host Chris Rock is said to have approved the joke involving the children, according toVariety.
An Academy spokesperson told E! Online the organization "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."
Read the full text below:
Dear Cheryl, Dawn, Members of the Board of Governors, Reginald and David:
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.
Don Hall, Sound Branch, John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation, Academy Governor, 18 years
Freida Lee Mock, Documentary Branch, Academy Award winner, Academy Governor, 6 years
Arthur Dong, Documentary Branch, Academy Award nominee, Academy Governor, 4 years
Ang Lee, Directors Branch, Two-time Academy Award winner
Chris Tashima, Shorts and Feature Animation Branch, Academy Award winner
Christine Choy, Documentary Branch, Academy Award nominee
David Magdael, Public Relations Branch
France Nuyen, Actors Branch
George Takei, Actors Branch
Janet Yang, Producers Branch
Jessica Yu, Documentary Branch, Academy Award winner
Jodi Long, Actors Branch
Laura Kim, Public Relations Branch
Marcus Hu, Executives Branch
Maysie Hoy, Film Editors Branch
Nancy Kwan, Actors Branch
Peter Kwong, Actors Branch
Renee Tajima-Pena, Documentary Branch, Academy Award nominee
Rithy Panh, Documentary Branch, Academy Award nominee
Ruby Yang, Documentary Branch, Academy Award winner
Sandra Oh, Actors Branch
Steven Okazaki, Documentary Branch, Academy Award winner
Teddy Zee, Executives Branch
William Hoy, Film Editors Branch
Yung Chang, Documentary Branch
(H/T: The Hollywood Reporter)
Cover image: ABC/The Academy via Vulture // Kevin Winter / Getty Images