Best Oscar Jokes?

The Asian American Journalists Association, a national organization of more than 1,700 members, wonders why USA Today would consider an anti-Asian joke worthy of highlighting in a column of “the 10 best Oscar jokes” by comedian Chris Rock.

Are the editors at USA Today not aware how offensive the stereotypes of Asians being math whizzes and the Jewish being money obsessive are, and of the wide diversity within the Asian American community?

We want to impress upon the USA Today editors that Asian Americans do not find it funny to be marginalized by ethnic jokes or lack of representation in the entertainment media. As Rep. Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, tweeted, “It is not right to protest the exclusion of one group by making jokes at the expense of another.”

USA Today’s response to AAJA’s inquiry was that the story was about the most piercing, not most funny Rock jokes.

The headline reads: “Chris Rock’s 10 best Oscar jokes,” and suggests that the joke was a “best” in some way. AAJA recommends USA Today change the headline and add a link to the follow-up story about the public outcry.

To the media outlets that covered the fallout of the poorly chosen lines while giving the proper context — i.e., why would you repeat the very same stereotypes you’re purportedly trying to eliminate — we salute your efforts. They include GQ, the Daily Mail, BBC News, the Washington Post and many others.

The failure to reflect America’s communities of color still resides in many institutions, Hollywood included. And those inside the institutions have a responsibility to speak up, to affect change. It’s too bad Chris Rock and the Oscars misfired in this attempt, and some in the media failed to call them out on it.

Yours truly,
Ti-Hua Chang
AAJA Media Watch Committee