Chris Rock made it a point to tackle the #OscarsSoWhite controversy head-on as the host for 88th annual Academy Awards on Sunday, February 28, but the comedian took a major misstep when he cracked a joke about Asians halfway through the ceremony.
Under the pretense of bringing out the “PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants” responsible for the Oscars vote, Rock instead welcomed three young Asian kids — two boys and a girl — to wordlessly join him onstage. One boy wandered around for a bit, unable to find his mark (shout out to Katy Perry’s Super Bowl left shark, anyone?).
The audience laughed as the three kids, who wore tuxes and bow ties and held tiny briefcases, stood by Rock, 51, as he then followed his racist joke with a quip about child labor.
“And if anybody’s upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone, which was also made by these kids,” he said.
Oscar viewers at home weren’t quite so amused by Rock’s off-color remarks, and quickly took to social media to share their thoughts.
Hey Asian kids, so you’ve never seen an Asian actor nominated in your lifetime, but maybe one day you can be a prop for a shit joke. #Oscars
— Angry Asian Man (@angryasianman) February 29, 2016
Think my brain shut down for a few minutes. Did that appalling joke about Asian kids actually happen? #Oscars
— Justin Chang (@JustinCChang) February 29, 2016
— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) February 29, 2016
Nah this speech about diversity doesn’t work 5 minutes after you hired three kids for the sole purpose of a racist joke. #OscarsSoWhite
— sean miura (@seanmiura) February 29, 2016
How unnecessary to make fun of Asians on the #Oscars when Hollywood isn’t even evolved enough to give Asians Asian-specific roles yet.
— Jen Chae (@frmheadtotoe) February 29, 2016
Chris Rock spent the entire night talking about the importance of diversity.Brings out CHILDREN to make a racist Asian joke. #doublestandard
— Olivia Ketron (@oketron16) February 29, 2016
anybody playing the drinking game where you take a shot every time an Asian person gets nominated? I AM! sober as fuck………. 🙁
— DUMMY (@dumbfoundead) February 29, 2016
Later on in the evening, Sacha Baron Cohen (in character as Ali G) made another jab at Asians while presenting the Best Picture nominee Room alongside Olivia Wilde.
“How come there’s no Oscar for them very hard-working little yellow people with tiny little dongs?” he asked in his typical no-holds-barred manner. “You know, the Minions.”
Rock and Cohen’s remarks come hot on the heels of a touchy awards show season colored by the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. While Rock made sure to address the exclusion of black nominees at this year’s awards (he created a hilarious faux movie montage subbing black actors into the Best Picture nominees), his joke at the expense of Asians showed there’s still a long way to go in Hollywood’s road to diversity.
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