Are the Oscars Asian-friendly?

Oscars finally re-opened its door to non-white people after 2 years of being condemned for lack of diversity. However, is the 89th Oscars as good as it seems, at least to Asians?

The Oscars seemed to be exceptionally worth celebrating this year for Cardiffans, since an ex-Cardiff University student won an award for a documentary. It was also massive news to the world as we saw two black actors, one male and one female, winning big titles. This is the first in history Oscars opens its arms to more than one black awardee on the same night since the 2007 ceremony.

Oscars, statistically, is moving to a better race equality. If we take a closer look at the data, the progress is even visible from the list of nominees as six out of 20 are black.

“With Moonlight winning the best picture, I think definitely some progress has been made,” said Oscar Blandón, Twitter user commenting on black people at the Oscars.

In the past two years, the academy was heavily criticised with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite across social media sites. People have complained about the lack of race diversity and the white-dominant show. This year, despite the rise in black’s involvement, many netizens still feel sceptical over whether only rewarding black actors and actresses would colourise the Academy Awards.

Although the Academy has had a total number of 38 black winners throughout its 88-year history, Asian actors have had even less opportunities. To be exact, only 13 Asian winners with 16 nominations so far. This year, English actor Dev Patel might be the only one in the acting category who have an Asian blood connection, since both of his parents are Indians.

Patel said to Reuters: “The effort that I had to go through to physically transform, the voice, all of that gets pushed aside and it’s packaged as just an Indian dude, that, sometimes, is a shame.”

Munzir Quraishy, a film enthusiast at Cardiff University also pointed out: “A few Asian actors are slowly coming through, but there is still a huge under representation, especially in significant roles. Meanwhile, with other creative fields, like directing, producing, editing etc. The problem is worse.”

Why are Asians underrepresented across the board? Michael Hefner, one of the audience who questioned the Oscars’ result on Twitter, said to us that it was because “they are not viewed as ‘oppressed’ according to the Left.” The total Asian population in the US, below 5%, could be another reason.

Interestingly, Twitter has also been swarmed with tweets congratulating Asians’ wins. However, they were all either misled or plays on sarcasm about whitewashing. Stars misrepresented as Asians on Twitter were Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson and Emma Stone. None of them were Asian. This confusion comes from the roles they have acted in, including Damon as William in The Great Wall (2016), Johansson as the Major in Ghost in the shell (2017) and Stone as Captain Allison Ng in Aloha (2015).


Joyce Jeng from Twitter account @AsianSocialNetwork said: “It is only with our voices, our resolve to make our own movies & our mindfulness of our efforts to be noticed that will change the status quo.” Looks like this year will not be the end of outrage against #OscarsSoWhite.