By now, you've heard that the 88th Academy Awards were a hot fiery garbage pile of ignorance and bad taste.
Even with all of scrutiny and lip service paid to rectifying the glaring whiteness of the Oscars, the show was stunningly ignorant about what real inclusion means. The Academy is apparently going to do this "diversity" thing kicking and screaming. When it comes to Asians in Hollywood, invisibility is pretty much expected. But sometimes, if we're lucky, we get to be the butt of some tired, shitty joke. Some things never change.
I'm referring, of course, to that awkward-ass moment where host Chris Rock trotted out a trio of Asian children on to the stage to make a cheap joke about Asians being good at math.
The kids were supposed to be accountants. "They sent us their most dedicated, accurate and hard-working representatives," Rock said of the kids. "Please welcome Ming Zhu, Bao Ling and David Moskowitz."
And then Rock doubled down, as if daring us to see if anyone gave a shit about what he just said: "If anybody's upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids."
Because Chinese child labor is hi-larous!
We do not belong here. We are comic props. We are a punchline.
That seems to be the message. Rock had the unenviable challenge of hosting the night's festivities while trying to address the Academy's perpetual shutout of Black nominees. It was a mixed bag, with the ceremony bending over backward to cram DIVERSITY DIVERSITY DIVERSITY into the proceedings, while having no clue what actual diversity really means. Actual diversity is hard. But at the very, very least, it means perhaps avoiding dehumanizing, stereotypical jokes at the expense of Asian kids on national fucking television.
How old do you think those kids were? Six? Seven? Hailee Steinfeld was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for True Grit in 2010. Rinko Kikuchi was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Babel in 2006. Ken Watanabe was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Last Samurai in 2003. These kids have barely ever seen an Asian nominee in their lifetime, but hey, at least they can serve as accessories for a tired laugh.
Adding to the insult, the moment came immediately after two South Asians -- in a row -- had just won Oscars in the documentary categories. Director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won the award for Short Documentary for A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, followed Asif Kapadia, co-director of Amy, which won Best Documentary Feature. I could not tweet fast enough.
And then, as we surrendered hope that the show had reached its lowest point, Sacha Baron Cohen (remember him?) came out in his Ali G persona to drop a joke about "hard-working, little yellow people with tiny dongs."
This is some blatant bullshit, all around.
Representation matters. We can lament the lack of nominees of color. We can lament the systemic lack of roles in Hollywood feature films that bar us from even getting invited to the party. But after watching this shit, you gotta wonder why the hell people want to attend this party so badly.