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Robert Downey Jr. and Emma Stone encounter backlash for allegedly ignoring Asian actors during the Oscars

2024.04.10 19:42:35 Claire An

[A Trophy On A Table. Photo Credit to Unsplash]

Oscar winners Robert Downey Jr. and Emma Stone are facing criticism for allegedly neglecting Asian actors Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan during their acceptance speeches at the 2024 Oscars.


This year, ​​the 96th Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles on March 10th.


During the ceremony, Downey won best supporting actor for his role in "Oppenheimer," while Stone won the award for best actress for her performance in "Poor Things."


Downey’s award was presented by Ke Huy Quan, who was named best supporting actor for his role in “Everything Everywhere All At Once” during last year’s ceremony.


On the other hand, Stone’s award was presented by Michelle Yeoh, who was named best actress for her role in “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”


The controversy sparked when Downey and Stone went up on stage to receive their awards.


During Downey’s acceptance, Quan handed him the trophy but Downey seemingly did not appear to acknowledge Quan.


Instead, he approached the other presenters on stage, shaking hands with Tim Robbins and fist-bumping Sam Rockwell.


A similar incident happened during Stone’s acceptance.


While Yeoh held the statuette in her hands, Stone reached for the award from Yeoh, but the statuette was then abruptly handed to another presenter on stage- Jennifer Lawrence.


Stone and Lawrence hugged on stage, and Stone received the award from Lawrence instead of Yeoh.


Controversy over racial discrimination arose given that there were two occurrences of actors ‘passing’ an Asian award presenter.


This behavior caused disappointment from viewers and initiated backlash on social media.


People on social media expressed their disappointment by saying things such as “Robert Downey Jr. could’ve taken one second to acknowledge Ke Huy Quan while on stage.” and “Emma Stone made it seem as if her friend (Jennifer Lawrence) was the awards presenter by treating Michelle Yeoh like an invisible person and pushing the trophy.”


Some netizens also pointed out that this behavior was a microaggression, meaning subtle discrimination that occurs in everyday life.


Microaggression refers not only to physical or verbal violence, but to small acts of discrimination that occur in everyday life, such as exclusion or ignoring someone.


On the other hand, some defensive opinions were also expressed.


They said, “The actors were in a rush right after receiving the award, so they greeted people they were close to them first,” and “They greeted them properly backstage.”


In fact, Downey Jr. and Key Hoy Kwan were photographed in a friendly pose behind the stage.


While the controversy grew, Yeoh took time shortly after the ceremony to clarify why she handed Stone’s Oscar to Lawrence.


Yeoh wrote on her Instagram post, “Congratulations Emma!! I confused you, but I wanted to share that glorious moment of handing over [your] Oscar to you together with your best friend Jennifer!! She reminded me of my Bae Jamie Lee Curtis. Always there for each other!!”


Though the thickened air was partially cleared up, many still have differing opinions on whether or not Robert Downey Jr. and Emma Stone’s behavior during the Oscars was an act of racism.

Claire An / Grade 11
Yongsan International School of Seoul