Ignoring other minorities not a proper way to address diversity issue at Oscars

As the black centerpiece in the vortex of "#OscarsSoWhite" controversy, host Chris Rock has tried to take on the lack of diversity issue at the 88th Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night in Hollywood, Los Angeles, but failed miserably.

He failed not because his comedy bits, usually described as "unpredictable" and sometimes "raunchy", were not funny. His skit as an abandoned black astronaut ignored by white people at NASA in "The Martian" movie setting was hilarious.

His failure to put a spotlight on the issue of Oscar's lack of diversity was because of his own blind spot when talking about race and because of the lack of diversity in his address of Oscar's lack of diversity.

Not just black actors and filmmakers were snubbed and overlooked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans too. For the second consecutive year, all 20 nominees for acting awards were white. No minority-themed movies were nominated for Best Picture, and even the ones nominated for other categories, the nomination goes to a white writer or a white supporting actor.

However, throughout the three-and-a-half hour show, Rock never stopped joking about racism in Hollywood, but his jokes almost solely focused on how black people in the show business were unfairly treated.

Hispanics, Native Americans and other minorities were left out of the conversation, while Asian-Americans were even mocked in a racial stereotype joke.

At one point of the show, Rock introduced the "bankers" from finance firm PricewaterhouseCoopers on to the stage, then it turned out to be three Asian kids with briefcases, as a joke for Asians being good at math.

Then he proceeded to joke, "If anybody's upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids."

Some might have seen it as a light-hearted joke referencing child labor, others don't. Asian-American NBA star Jeremy Lin tweeted, "Seriously though, when is this going to change?!? Tired of it being "cool" and "ok" to bash Asians smh (shake my head)."

That is the Academy's problem. They of course know what people were angry about, but the choice they made to address it was unbalanced, superficial and half-hearted.

It is not enough to address the diversity problem by showing before the ceremony a montage of a mixture of nominated performance by white actors and some un-nominated notable black faces as if it acknowledges their achievements. It is certainly not enough to have a black host joke about racism to an audience of mostly white faces.

The Oscars were inherently a self-congratulatory activity for Hollywood. It was especially hypocritical to see that they have committed injustice and then spend a whole night patting themselves on the back, congratulating each other for addressing this injustice.

The diversity problem is more than just the Oscars. While it was a good start for the Academy to announce the plan to double the number of women and minorities in the academy by 2020, the key is still to provide more opportunities to the broad spectrum of minorities in the industry.

It is hoped that movie studios stop saying there are just not enough good roles for minority actors and proceeds to cast White American actors Jake Gyllenhaal as Prince of Persia, John Wayne as Genghis Khan, and Christian Bale as Moses.

Until opportunities are provided more equally in Hollywood, the audience at home will just keep asking, "why the Oscars keep lecturing me about their own lack of diversity?"

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