Oscar Jokes

March 1, 2016

Chris Rock made an Asian joke during his opening for the Oscars. And people are mad. Not mad enough that it’s making top headlines, but at least a few Facebook links.

Sacha Baron Cohen also made an Asian joke during his presenting at the Oscars. This seems to have been largely ignored.

What were these jokes?

Rock’s joke was about Asians being smart, which he brought home by bring three Asian children on stage as “PWC accountants”. Cohen, in typical Ali G style, joked “How come there is no Oscar for them very hard-working little yellow people with tiny dongs? You know — the Minions.”

So why is Rock making headlines and Cohen is buried in the articles are not mentioned at all?

Is it because the children? Children who clearly have some business agreement in place to appear on national TV for Rock’s hosting. Children who have rehearsed the marks they’re supposed to hit. Who got dressed up in costume for it. So if they’re victims – no more than other child actors who get crappy jobs.

Is it because Rock was making a statement? Is it because we expect more diversity from a minority? Is it because no one watched the Oscars long enough to see Cohen’s joke and now they’re just jumping on the headline bandwagon? Or is it because we accept that Ali G is offensive?

It all sounds like excuses to me. If you call out Rock for making a stereotypical Asian joke (one that is pretty well accepted among Asians – let’s be honest), but you don’t call out Cohen – it’s basically condoning racist jokes in certain situations. You didn’t trot out children to be laughed at – so it’s cool you refer to us as “yellow people”. You were obviously joking and not trying to seriously speak about diversity – so your racist joke gets a pass. Forgive me when I start questioning your ability to judge racism at all.

This to me is ultimately a problem because it makes it seem like a fluke. Chris Rock is just one bad apple in the comedian world. And I’m pretty sure we all know that’t not how it is.





  1. It’s odd. I’ve been finding that for the longest time, racial jokes about Asians no longer really register with me any more. It didn’t even really dawn on me that Chris Rock’s joke might have stirred people up. I had a similar reaction about the Jeremy Lin headline outrage a couple years back. Both times my reaction was “Oh, dumb joke”, instead of “Oh, that’s offensive.”

    I can’t tell if it’s because I’m just desensitized to this kind of stuff by now, or because I’ve worked and lived for so long in an environment where being Asian is not really a barrier to anything I want to do.

    • Agreed, being Asian has never been a barrier in my life. Which is funny because you and I both grew up in places that were not terribly diverse. So maybe we assimilated better?

      But more than that I also don’t think that making a “smart” joke is seriously detrimental to anyone. Oh these poor children who are being raised up as smarter than most non-Asian adults. They’re going to be so ashamed to be Asian. Being thought of as smart is going to hurt you getting a job or cause the police to follow you home.

      Give me a break. If anything “small dongs” have hurt Asians more than “being extra smart”.

      • >If anything “small dongs” have hurt Asians more than “being extra smart”.

        Been listening to the WNYC podcast “Nancy” – it’s about LGBT culture, but both the hosts are asian. There was a pretty interesting episode a while back about how asians always have submissive roles in gay porn and how it set one of the hosts back in his sex life.

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