The nasty Asian jokes at the Oscars highlighted Hollywood's other big race problem.

Last night, Chris Rock forced Hollywood to confront its race problem.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.


Rock didn't let up all night, using not just his slashing monologue, but nearly every appearance to make those in the audience face up to the lack of diversity in the room — particularly the ceremony's exclusion of black actors, directors, and writers.

It was glorious.

A couple of jokes, however, came at the expense of a group just as frequently ignored and stereotyped by Hollywood: Asian-Americans.

In one bit, Rock brought out three kids to represent "PriceWaterhouseCoopers accountants," a joke which appeared to trade on the stereotype that Asian and Asian-American kids are good at math.


"It's OK, it's OK, thanks guys, thanks a lot. If anybody is upset about that joke just tweet about it on your phone, that was also made by these guys," Rock said, apparently, jokingly, referring to the charge that iPhones are often made under poor labor conditions at the FoxCon factory in Shanghai.

Later in the program, Sacha Baron Cohen (as Ali G) drudged up one of the oldest, crudest stereotypes in the book for a gag.

"I is here representing all of them that's been overlooked," he said as he took the mic.

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

"How come there's no Oscar for them very hard working little yellow people with tiny dongs," he said. "You know, the minions."

So ... yeah. That's an "Asian-American men have small penises joke," folks. At the Oscars.

Since 2000, only 1% (!!!) of Oscar nominations in acting categories have gone to actors of Asian descent. And, sadly, that might be the best that can be said about Hollywood's historic treatment of Asians and Asian-Americans on film.

Emma Stone, who portrayed the part-Asian Allison Ng in "Aloha." Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images.

Yellowface — white actors portraying Asian characters on screen — is an unfortunately common practice in movies, ranging from the just-kinda-boneheaded (Emma Stone in "Aloha") to the weird (Fisher Stevens in "Short Circuit") to the grotesque (Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's).

Even when portrayed by actors of the same ethnicity, Asian or Asian-American characters in movies are often conceived as one-note stereotypes or the butt of a joke ("Van Wilder's" Taj or "Sixteen Candles" Long Duk Dong).

Needless to say, Twitter wasn't here for it.

A hashtag was started in response...

...as commenters called on Hollywood to do better.


Others used the tag #RepresentAsian, in reference to "Fresh Off the Boat" actor Constance Wu's insistence that even though she plays a mother of Asian descent on TV, she doesn't need to "represent every Asian mom ever."




The silver lining to Rock and Baron Cohen's stumbles? An often invisible prejudice is now getting some much-needed attention.

Progress is already being made on TV, by shows like "Master of None," "Fresh Off the Boat," and "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," which feature nuanced, complex Asian and Asian-American characters in leading roles.

"Fresh Off the Boat's" Randall Park and Constance Wu. Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images.

But as more and more people speak out, the more likely it becomes that the film industry will start to get the message too.

And the bigger push they get? The more likely that there will be a lot more celebrating at next year's ceremony — by actors, writers, and directors of all genders and ethnicities.

Albert Einstein

One of the strangest things about being human is that people of lesser intelligence tend to overestimate how smart they are and people who are highly intelligent tend to underestimate how smart they are.

This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect and it’s proven every time you log onto Facebook and see someone from high school who thinks they know more about vaccines than a doctor.

The interesting thing is that even though people are poor judges of their own smarts, we’ve evolved to be pretty good at judging the intelligence of others.

“Such findings imply that, in order to be adaptive, first impressions of personality or social characteristics should be accurate,” a study published in the journal Intelligence says. “There is accumulating evidence that this is indeed the case—at least to some extent—for traits such as intelligence extraversion, conscientiousness, openness, and narcissism, and even for characteristics such as sexual orientation, political ideology, or antigay prejudice.”

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