George Takei has slammed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ response to a letter protesting two sketches shown during this year’s Oscars that were considered derogatory to Asians. Speaking to the New York Times, Takei said of the Academy’s “patronizing” statement, “It was a bland, corporate response.”
In a statement released Tuesday night after Takei, director Ang Lee and actress Sandra Oh published their letter, the Academy responded that it “appreciates the concerns stated, and regrets that any aspect of the Oscar telecast was offensive. We are committed to doing our best to ensure that material in future shows be more culturally sensitive.” However, as Takei and many in the entertainment industry noted, the words “sorry” and “apology” were prominently left out of the statement.
“The obliviousness was actually shocking. Doesn’t anyone over there have any sense,” Takei said to the Times. In a follow-up email to the New York Times, Dawn Hudson, the CEO of the Academy, wrote, “I apologize for any hurt the skits caused.”
During the Oscars telecast, host Chris Rock introduced three Asian-American children as the accountants who tallied the award votes, playing on the stereotype that Asians are good at math. During Sacha Baron Cohen’s sneak appearance as Ali G, he joked about the Oscars’ lack of diversity, “How come there’s no Oscar for them very hard-working, little yellow people with tiny dongs? You know, the Minions.”
In their letter to the Academy, the protesting members called the sketches “tasteless and offensive” and wrote, “In light of criticism over #OscarsSoWhite, we were hopeful that the telecast would provide the Academy a way forward and the chance to present a spectacular example of inclusion and diversity. Instead, the Oscars show was marred by a tone-deaf approach to its portrayal of Asians.”