We evaluate the history of Asian movies at the Academy Awards, and how over the years inherent racism has painted the award culture.

“When I tell you that every single Asian person backstage at the SAG Awards just had the same emotional look on their face when the PARASITE team… even people who had nothing to do with the movie…”, Jen Yamato, an Los Angeles Times Reporter tweeted when the cast of Parasite won Best Ensemble at the 26th Screen Actor Guild (SAG) Awards, held on January 19, 2020.

Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite became the first South Korean movie to be nominated for Oscars in the categories of Best Picture and Best International Feature Film. Rounding out Parasite‘s six total nominations were nods for Directing, Film Editing, and Production Design. Despite the film’s memorable performances—from Song Kang Ho’s palpable tension as he sweats and hides beneath a coffee table to Park So Dam’s quick, sharp wit—acknowledgments in acting categories were pointedly missing. This bias is a continuing phenomenon, from 1987’s Last Emperor (9 nominations) to 2000’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (10) to 2005’s Memoirs of a Geisha (six) to 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire (10) and 2012’s Life of Pi (11).

Media studies scholars told VICE, “the reasons behind this lack of recognition are multi-layered. With pop culture reflecting society at large, Asian actors face more than just industry issues. Beyond the general lack of distribution of Asian films, the difficulty Asian actors face in breaking into Hollywood’s mainstream, and the Academy’s mostly-white demographics, Asians in Hollywood must also go up against the racial stereotypes and biases of American society, which inform the way viewers perceive their performances. When it comes to judging the work of Asian actors, the white American mainstream has historically been clouded by bias.”

However, in a year that could have been a major leap forward in representation at the Oscars, performers of Asian descent were overlooked in all of the acting categories. Notably, Awkwafina was not among the nominees for Best Actress, despite rave reviews for her performance in The Farewell. The snubs for The Farewell also include Lulu Wang, who wrote and directed the film and was overlooked in the Best Director and Best Original Screenplay categories. . The only time a woman of Asian descent has been nominated for Best Actress was in 1936, when Eurasian actress Merle Oberon was up for The Dark Angel. Meanwhile, the last time any Asian actor was nominated by the Academy was in 2007, when Rinko Kikuchi was up for Best Supporting Actress for Babel.

Overall, the lack of expanded representation comes after decades of being overlooked during awards season.

The issue was further aggravated at the 2016 Oscars — which had already drawn criticism over the failure to nominate any people of color in the acting categories — when host Chris Rock brought out three Asian-American children for a stereotype-laden sight gag. Constance Wu and others slammed the joke, and a few days later, Sandra Oh, George Takei and director Ang Lee were among several Academy members to sign an open letter calling for an apology.

As the Los Angeles Times found in a 2012 report, Oscar voters were 94 percent white and 77 percent male, with Black voters eking out only two percent and Latinx voters making up even less. The Academy’s current breakdown isn’t clear, but ABC reported last year that based on the most recent numbers provided, it was making steps toward change, with women making up 49 percent of the members added in 2018, and people of color accounting for 38 percent. Despite these efforts, the fact remains that in 2018, people of color still made up only 16 percent of the Academy’s overall voting body.

A similar perspective was shared by Nancy Wang Yuen, a sociologist and author of Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism. “If the stereotype is that Asians are not expressive and the entire enterprise of acting and the reward of the Oscars is about being expressive, those stereotypes work against Asian actors,” Yuen told VICE. “There’s variation in expression, just as there is variation of expression in Western cultures, but there’s racism against Asians: the idea that all Asians look alike, the inability to distinguish between Asians and [different] Asian cultures. Those old racist ideas that Asians have to face in the general culture definitely impact how they fare in popular culture.”

It’s the 92nd Academy awards this year. Let’s hope the Academy finally wakes up to the plethora of Asian talent at the movies; because as Bong Joon Ho said, “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

Feature Image Credits: Getty Images

Paridhi Puri

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The discourse on rape of men has never shaped up in a society where irrespective of the sexes “consent” and “no” are considered redundant words.

Wikipedia defines rape as, “A type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person’s consent.” Notice the use of the word “person” that should naturally include women, men, transgender, and all other recognized or unrecognized genders. But unfortunately, the law of the land has devoid consideration of men as victims of rape crimes. In August 2014, 4 men in Muzzafarnagar, Uttar Pradesh were booked for sodomizing a 16-year-old boy in a government-run protection home. A year later, in April 2015 a Madarsa teacher was booked for attempting to sodomize a male student in the same town. We use the word sodomy (anal intercourse) instead of rape here, which no longer is a criminal offence after the Supreme Court amended the language of Section 377 of IPC in September 2018 to decriminalize same-sex relations.

It was a landmark decision that freed the LGBTQ community to come out of the closet without facing the fear of legal scrutiny.  But at the same time, it abridged adult men of their only legal remedy in case of forceful anal penetration. The rape laws in our country treat men only as perpetrators and not as victims. According to Section 375 of the IPC only a man can commit rape on a woman without her consent, or with consent but under the fear of death, or with consent but under false pretences. It makes no mention of rape as a crime against men and leaves section 377 to cover that.

“A huge contributor to the social stigma around male victims of sexual assault is the lack of a functioning legal framework for them to back on,” writes Mardaangi, an Instagram page with around 3000 likes that uploads stories and mentions of sexual assaults on men.

A 2nd-year law student at Delhi University, talking about the discriminative rape laws in our country, on a condition of anonymity says, “As a welfare state our laws are more concerned towards the upliftment of downtrodden section of the society. Women and children due to historic injustice have always been given special protection under the law.” He added, “Men, on the other hand, have always been considered to be the dominating members as they are mostly in the position of power.”

Lack of consent remains an indispensable factor that naturally should make cases of unwilling sodomy come within the ambit of rape. Despite that, not only the legal framework of our country but the social conditioning too makes it tremendously tough for men to report rape crimes and avail a timely justice. The common notion that men are not vulnerable and that they always crave for sex has diluted the conversation around rape of men. Friends, peers and even the authority will likely deride a male victim and label the incident redundant leaving him traumatized.

Rape laws in India have developed over time. The law whose genesis can be traced in Macaulay’s Indian Penal Code of 1860 got amended many times before reaching its current stage. Changes include the inclusion of custodial rape, which criminalized rape by a public servant in 1983 and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 followed by the Nirbhaya rape case. In 2012, The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act or POCSO was passed which made rape against a child under the age of 16 a criminal offence and laid provisions for the investigation of the crime in a manner that the child doesn’t get traumatized. This law is gender-neutral and treats male children as victims as well. A legal framework for the protection of adult males can be a next step in the evolution of rape laws.

Feature Image credit: themileage.org


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After a row on the interview panel, another controversy surrounding discrimination in admissions has come up against St. Stephen’s College.

St. Stephens College released its cut-offs on 24th June 2019. Since then, there has been uproar amongst the Naga Students’ Union of Delhi regarding higher cut-offs for students from Christian Scheduled Tribe (CST), as compared to Christians from Other than Church of North India (COTH).

In a letter to the Principal, the Union said, “It is evident that there is high discrimination against students falling under CST category, where the cut-off marks have been kept much higher than the COTH”, as told in a report in The Hindu. The Union also added, “There is no rationality on how CST and COTH differ as far as the teaching of Christianity is concerned.” They called this difference a violation of their Constitutional Rights.

Comparing this year’s cut-offs to the last year’s, one can easily see that there has been a drastic change because last year the cut-offs for these quotas were either similar, or were lower for Christian ST’s in almost all courses.

In the list of 2018-19, the cut-off for B.A. Programme for COTH was at 88% (Commerce and Science) and at 85.5% (Humanities), while for CST, it was at 86% (Commerce and Science) and at 83.5% (Humanities). In this year’s list, the cut-off for COTH is at 88% (Commerce and Science) and at 86.5% (Humanities), while for CST it is set drastically higher at 96% (Commerce and Science) and at 94.5% (Humanities).

Similarly, this change in cut-off has also been observed in the B.Sc. Mathematics Course where, in 2018-19 for COTH, the cut-off was at 90.5% (Commerce and Science) and at 89.5% (Humanities), while for CST, it was at 82.5% (Commerce and Science) and at 81.5% (Humanities). In this year’s list, the cut-off for COTH is at 82.5% (Commerce and Science) and at 81.75% (Humanities), while for CST it is again set higher at 92.5% (Commerce), at 92.75% (Science) and at 91.75% (Humanities).

On contacting the Governing Body of St. Stephen’s College, we received no response regarding this matter.


Image Credits: Surbhit Rastogi for DU Beat


Sakshi Arora

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17 years ago, no one had heard of Islamophobia. While some scholars claim that Islamophobia existed in premise before the terrorist attacks of 11th September 2001, others counter that argument by saying that it increased in frequency and notoriety during the past decade. But the focus of this  article is whether Islamophobia exists within the student community of the University of Delhi (DU).

“Why do you wear this?”, “Can you take it off?”, and “I want to see your hair!” In the last two years as a student in DU, my friend Wasila had been at the receiving end of many such remarks. In conversation with DU Beat, Wasila Nizami, a student pursuing Political Science Honours in Miranda House, questioned, “If the student community in the country’s most liberal environment holds this kind of mindset, what will the rest of India think about those who wear headscarves over long, black dresses?” When asked whether she has tried to bring this to the notice of the authorities, she answered, “Forget the authorities. Even those who claim to represent us-members of the Students’ Union-would not respond appropriately to allegations of Islamophobia.”

Cases of failed justice for harassment committed against the Muslim students in DU has driven home a feeling amongst the affected that they are not respected by those who follow other faiths within the varsity. Shabnam Sultana, a student pursuing History Honours from Ramjas College, told DU Beat, “Most college departments refuse to accept that religious bullying takes place in their campuses.” Speaking on her own troubled experience as a student following the tenets of Islam, she remarked, “From the time I take the e-rickshaw to college to the time I take the e-rickshaw to my PG, I feel concerned about my own safety because my hijab gives out my identity.”

Even to outside observers, it is becoming evident that this premier institution has a tendency to ostracise and single out students belonging to the Muslim community. Jahnavi Sharma, a PhD scholar in JNU and a DU graduate, told DU Beat, “In canteens, classrooms, and common rooms, a Muslim student might be singled out and called a Pakistani or the ISIS. It might be said to evoke laughter or might be meant as a joke, but it’s not. It actually amounts to bullying and tormenting.”

Should we treat every attack on a Muslim student as Islamophobic? If a Kashmiri student is assaulted, is this a form of political violence or an Islamophobic incident? But not only in terms of their physical attire, Muslim students feel a sense of discomfort even in terms of the intellectual scenario prevailing in the varsity. They do not feel comfortable discussing terrorism in class, and most are of the belief that there is no safe space or forum on campus to discuss the issues that affect them. Arshad Jawid, a student pursuing post graduation from the Department of Statistics in DU, said, “Muslim students, even at the post-graduate level, hesitate to engage in political debate, let alone contest the DUSU elections.”

A professor at Miranda House told our correspondent on conditions of anonymity, “Sometimes, even the professors can be the perpetrators of Islamophobia. I have had Muslim students coming to me with stories of professors who espouse views that malign an entire faith.”

Our question of whether Islamophobia exists in DU or not was met with mixed reviews, as was expected. But as we conclude this article, we realised that the question we started out with is not important. What is important is to acknowledge that our universities are places which are meant to provide a safe space for all students to engage in debate and discussion, free from the fear of persecution, harm, and bigotry. Islamophobia or not, the first step is to accept that there’s a problem. This issue plagues the student community of DU, and hence we won’t get answers to this problem in the news studio debates with Arnab Goswami nor will we find the answers in Patricia Mukhim’s editorials. The answers will materialise when students start walking out of classes, demand the resignation of professors with parochial mindsets, and stage protests to draw attention to discrimination on campus.

17 years ago, no one had heard of Islamophobia. Now even when we hear of it, isn’t it ironic that we choose to ignore it?


Feature Image Credits: Artist Unknown, Image has been  taken from Feminism and Religion

Vaibhavi Sharma Pathak

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The administration of St. Stephen’s College came up with list of the students who have been allocated residence in the college hostel for the academic year 2017-18 this Thursday. In what should have been a list drawn on precise criteria of merit throughout the academic year, the alleged arbitrariness of the list has drawn widespread dissent from the college students and the teacher community. As per the press release that appeared the next day, the students who have been vocal about their objection to the granting of autonomous status to college and those who questioned the autocratic functioning of the present administration were deliberately not granted the residence.

The list comes in succession to the impromptu decision of the administration towards a substantial reduction in the seats allotted for the sophomore and final year candidates, bringing down the number to around 70 from the 200 seats previously. “This is a done on purpose step of the administration towards taming the voices of dissent in the campus. Lesser the number of second and third year students residing in the campus, lesser would be the opposition to the administrative decisions of the college,” A second year hosteler of the college who had been denied a place for his final year told our correspondent.

In the wake of the subsequent protest, a mass boycott of the college mess was organised where more than 360 students of the hostel refused the dinner. “We are planning more extensive protests against this decision in the coming weeks”, said a student from the student’s council.The press release of the College Student Union also highlighted the need for a clear regulation outlining the basis for allotment of seats and a space to discuss and reach a consensus about the larger issues. “What is appalling is the implicit discouragement of the culture of protests in the campus and the way display of dissent is increasingly clubbed with indiscipline. We believe that an amicable agreement will be reached upon very soon”, a faculty of the College was reportedly quoted as saying.

The statement of the principal of the college, Prof. John Varghese, could not be recorded as he is reportedly on leave till the 11th of this month. Dean of Residence, Rd. Monodeep Daniel is also learnt to be on leave till the 25th of May.


Image Credits: DU Beat Archives

Nikhil Kumar

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