The P.C. police have come for the Hollywood Reporter.
On Monday, the entertainment outlet tweeted a headline meant to celebrate the fact that this year’s Oscars nominations feature more actors of Asian descent than ever before in the event’s 92-year history, including Steven Yeun and Youn Yuh-jung for “Minari,” Riz Ahmed for “The Sound of Metal,” and director Chloe Zhao for “Nomadland.” Screenwriter Lee Isaac Chung and producer Christina Oh have also been nominated for their work in “Minari.”
“Diverse Field Sees Asian Actors Shatter a Bamboo Ceiling,” the original headline read.
The accompanying story was tweeted out on Monday morning, but quickly elicited cringes across the internet. It was “ratio’ed” by followers with a mere 800 likes before noon, but more than 3,700 retweets — and counting — which point to the “problematic” headline, as one critic put it.
“Are you guys out of your minds?” asked comedian Niccole Thurman.
“Please change this offensive headline,” urged entertainment writer Jason Fraley.
Mocked one follower, “I’m surprised the article doesn’t play a gong sound when you open it.”
Amid the backlash, one reader attempted to bring context to the term “bamboo ceiling.”
“The term ‘bamboo ceiling’ was coined by author Jane Hyun in her 2005 book, Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling: Career Strategies for Asians,” added @chidoofauxreal. Despite the author’s ethnicity, others argued that the phrase was invented well before diversity discourse had become the hot-button conversation it is today — but was as racist then as it is today.
Overwhelming criticism eventually prompted the Hollywood Reporter writer Rebecca Sun, who produced the article in question, to defend the decision.
“Hi! I wrote that headline (and the story). My editor, who is not Asian, was worried about it, but it’s a conscious choice I made to reference the phrase’s usage in the corporate world (the difficulty Asian executives have in breaking through to upper management),” clarified Sun, in response to one of the many calls to amend the headline. “It’s definitely not meant to be a cheeky pun or anything like that.”
However, the response to Sun’s statement has also been mixed — even by fellow Asian writers, such as self-proclaimed “recovering music journalist” Esta Park.
“This is what you call ‘click bait’. This is Twitter, not the Paris Review. Sorry. Do Better,” she said.
Alongside the now-notorious meme depicting a disapproving Oprah during her interview with Megan Markle and Prince Harry earlier this month, Vulture writer E. Alex Jung asked, rhetorically, “bamboo ceiling discourse in twenty twenty one?”
The 93rd Academy Awards will be simulcast from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood as well as Los Angeles’ Union Station on April 25, to be aired live on ABC.