Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Academy Didn’t Apologize for the Asian Jokes at the Oscars

They issued a statement about cultural sensitivity. But don’t call it an apology.

By now, most people are aware of the tasteless jokes Chris Rock and Sacha Cohen made about Asians during this year’s Oscars.

Earlier this week, George Takei, Ang Lee, and 22 other members of the Academy wrote an open letter to the Academy (see text) regarding the targeting of Asians.

Yesterday, the Academy responded with the following (yes, this is the full public response):

“The Academy 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.”

Let’s be clear: this is not an apology.

Why? Let’s do a little thought experiment here.

Say you’re walking down the street, and some random guy punches you in the gut. You want to hit back, but the better angels of your nature prevail and you decide not to. Instead, you ask him to apologize. After a back-and-forth, he finally offers “I regret all forms of violence.”

Is that an apology? No. An apology would be something like “Sorry for punching you in the gut.” A statement of regret about the specific thing that happened.

The letter Takei and others wrote was about the specific “targeting of Asians.” The letter was about how “the Oscars show was marred by a tone-deaf approach to its portrayal of Asians” through “tasteless and offensive skits” (namely, the Chris Rock and Sasha Cohen bits).

In response to a complaint about the specific targeting of Asians, the Academy offered a general, non-specific statement about cultural sensitivity.

Maybe they thought our understanding of English isn’t nuanced enough to pick up on this verbal sleight-of-hand. Maybe they thought they could get away with it.

Based on its response, the Academy is not sorry. Not in the least.

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