In an Oscars ceremony in which host Chris Rock made a point of bringing up diversity and "Black Lives Matter," one race-based joke failed to land.
Each year, the Academy Awards has a segment that pays tribute to the accountants who do the work of calculating the results. But this year, Rock changed up the usually dull segment by making a joke that played on Asian stereotypes and child labor jokes.
"The results of tonight's Academy Awards have been tabulated by the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers," Rock said before presenting the skit. "They sent us their most dedicated, accurate and hard-working representatives. So I want you to please welcome Ming Zhu, Bao Ling and David Moscowitz."
Three suited Asian children walked onstage carrying the trademark Academy results briefcases, and stood to the side as Rock finished his bit.
"Now if anybody's upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids," Rock said to scattered laughter.
The joke was based on the stereotype of Asians being good at math. Rock's follow-up zinger about phones made by the children was in reference to rampant use of child labor in China, Thailand and other developing Asian countries.
The joke did not go over well with Twitter, who pointed out the hypocrisy of a joke based on another race's stereotypes on a night that was focused on bringing more African-American diversity to the Oscars.
Users also pointed out that while much fuss has been made about the lack of black nominees, nothing has been said about the lack of Asian nominees, much less an Asian Oscar winner.
People were not much happier when Sacha Baron Cohen appeared later that night in his Ali G persona and proceeded to question, " How come there's no Oscar for them very hard-working, little yellow people with tiny (expletive)? You know, the Minions?"
Only three actors of Asian descent have won an Oscar: Miyoshi Umeki, Haing S. Ngor, and Ben Kingsley (whose father was Indian). Umeki is the only Asian actress to have won an award, while Rinko Kikuchi was the last actor of Asian descent to be nominated (for Babel in 2006).