A Chinese American View of the Asian Jokes at the Oscars

I didn’t watch the Oscars this weekend for two reasons:

1) #OscarsSoWhite

2) I had to study for a test

The biggest story I heard about the awards was Leonardo DiCarpio’s win. Nothing against Leo, but he’s not really my type of actor. So I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the Oscar posts at first.

But then, I stumbled upon this article from Bustle that one of my friends had shared on Facebook.

I was disgusted.

One of the first things I found disgusting was the use of these children as props. They were completely dehumanized. These kids look to be no older than ten, and they clearly have no idea of what is going on. The use of children for the use of jokes which they are too young to comprehend is disgusting in any situation. I think we can all agree that the use of children of any race or ethnicity in such a situation is inappropriate.

In addition to the dehumanizing way that these children were used as props was the references to child labor in some Asian countries. The issue of child labor in those countries are not and should not be funny. Many people, not just children, work in awful conditions and are paid little to nothing. Perhaps the joke about ” your phone that was also made by these kids,” was supposed to be a jab at the hypocrisy that most of us in the developed countries have about caring about the awful conditions of the factories abroad while still buying their products. But it didn’t strike me as that. To me, it seemed like just another joke about how “Asians are taking over.”

Which brings me to my next point.

The perpetuation of the model minority stereotype is getting old. I posted a rant on my personal Facebook about it, but here is the general sum of what I said and more:

The model minority stereotype hurts.

It hurts the student whose hard work is invalidated because “they’re Asian so of course they scored well and got good grades.”

It hurts the low-achieving student who has certain expectations placed on them because of their race.

It hurts the student who is Asian American but comes from a disadvantaged family and is therefore not helped when they need it.

As a student, I see the effects on students much more than the effects on adults in society. Even so, I am aware that there are certain professions that Asian Americans tend to succeed in more than others.

People who are not affected by the model minority do not understand what is so harmful about it. But the above are all reasons for why it is so harmful.

And the joke at the Oscars was just another hit.



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