In case you missed it, this 2018 Oscars montage featured an actress in yellowface
In recent years, the Oscars have received criticism for its lack of diversity. But this year, there were many great moments that seemed to challenge that, from Jordan Peele’s win for Best Original Screenplay to Frances McDormand’s speech calling for “inclusion riders.” Although these moments showed improvement in the industry and are definitely worth celebrating, one 2018 Oscars montage featured an actress in yellowface. As you might have guessed, Twitter was not happy.
During a montage sequence showcasing past Best Supporting Actress winners, Linda Hunt was shown for her role in 1983’s The Year of Living Dangerously. The major problem is that Hunt won an Oscar for portraying Billy Kwan, “a half-Asian male” photographer in Jakarta. As you’re probably well aware, white actors portraying Asian characters by sporting “yellowface” and recreating stereotypical Asian features through makeup was a racist technique used for a long time by producers in Hollywood.
Although it was only a brief moment, Twitter still took notice. As E. Alex Jung, a writer for Vulture tweeted:
"btw that was Linda Hunt in yellowface as 'Billy Kwan' during that Best Supporting Actress montage but sure let's pretend like it's worth casual inclusion."
He wasn’t the only one to slam the inclusion.
The “casual inclusion” of Hunt’s role in the montage may not seem like a big deal, but that’s part of the problem. It’s a pretty grave oversight considering the Academy seemed to push for more diversity this year. And Hollywood is still seriously lacking Asian representation. A 2016 piece from The New York Times even asked the question, “Why won’t Hollywood cast Asian actors?” Unfortunately, Asian American actors still have to overcome barriers to even get a proper non-stereotypical role.
This Oscars oversight again shows Hollywood still has quite a ways to go before it can be seen as diverse and inclusive.