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Did the Academy really need to apologise for those Oscars 'Asian jokes'?

The Independent logo The Independent 16/03/2016 Christopher Hooton

I’m loathed to explain a joke, but unfortunately I must.

The Academy , after 25 AMPAS members, including Ang Lee, sent them a letter criticising the Asian-orientated jokes made at this year’s Oscars.

“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,” they said.

In 2016, we live in a world where it’s issue immediate apology now, think later, but were the jokes really that insensitive? Let’s actually bloody look at them before getting outraged:

Chris Rock’s joke:

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Many saw this joke cut in half on YouTube (and in ), ending after Rock brought the kids out.

At this point yes, it is incredibly tasteless, but if you watch the whole thing it’s obvious Rock is not making a “lol asians are good at math!!!” joke, but intentionally telling a bad, racist joke to highlight the hypocrisy of the outrage era.

He couldn’t have made it any clearer.

“If anyone’s upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids.” he said, simultaneously taking a swipe at child labour and our willingness to vent spleen over racial issues, yet be blissfully ignorant to others that touch our lives every day.

Ali G’s joke:

“How come there is no Oscar for them very hard-working little yellow people with tiny dongs, you know, The Minions?”

Again, Sacha Baron Cohen here isn’t perpetuating a disgusting stereotype, but lampooning the fact that everyone’s mind still immediately jumps to it.

He is also in character as Ali G for goodness sake, a character who’s prejudice is the real joke, not what he says.

Were either of these jokes particularly good? No. Intelligent? No. But were they the reductive, archaic jokes most assumed them to be when they read the headlines about them without actually watching them? Also no.

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