Oscars organizers stopped short of an actual apology Tuesday in response to two “tone-deaf” jokes about Asian stereotypes — one about kid accountants, the other about “tiny dongs.”
“The Academy appreciates the concerns stated, and regrets that any aspect of the Oscar telecast was offensive,” read a statement from an Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences spokesperson.
“We are committed to doing our best to ensure that material in future shows be more culturally sensitive.”
The statement came after some of its Asian members delivered a letter earlier in the day urging the board of governors to own up to the low-brow and “offensive skits” by show host Chris Rock and presenter Sacha Baron Cohen.
The 25 signatories include Oscar-winning director Ang Lee, “Star Trek” star George Takei, and Canadian “Grey’s Anatomy” actress Sandra Oh.
Director Ang Lee accepts Academy Award for Best Director seen from backstage during the Oscars held at the Dolby Theatre on Feb. 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
A copy of the letter, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, accused the Academy of failing to make a “spectacular example of inclusion” with its ham-fisted, low-brow jokes. This was a considerable misstep considering the backlash the organization faced with the #OscarsSoWhite campaign, according to the letter.
“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,” it read.
“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.”
The letter asked the board for “concrete steps” so that “all people are portrayed with dignity and respect.”
After reading the Academy's response, Takei told The New York Times it struck him as “bland” and “patronizing.”
“The obliviousness was actually shocking. Doesn’t anyone over there have any sense?” he said.
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