NPR slammed for tweeting Michelle Yeoh the ‘first person who identifies as Asian’ to win Best Actress Oscar
Twitter users are calling out NPR for its tweet announcing Michelle Yeoh’s historic Best Actress win at the 95th Academy Awards.
The media organization posted a tweet on its account Sunday announcing the 60-year-old Malaysian actor as “the first person who identifies as Asian to win the award.”
#BREAKING: Michelle Yeoh wins the Oscar for best actress making history as the first person who identifies as Asian to win the award.https://t.co/u3f8TpIZZl
— NPR (@NPR) March 13, 2023
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Twitter added community notes to NPR’s tweet soon after the post went viral, garnering over 5.5 million views as of this writing.
"The tweet is factually correct, but missing context to explain wording. Merle Oberon was the first Asian woman nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1935. Oberon hid her heritage to avoid discrimination. Michelle Yeoh, however, is open about her Asian heritage," the notes read.
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Thank goodness for @NPR’s quality investigative journalism and the community notes clarification that Michelle Yeoh is “open about her Asian heritage”. For a second, I thought she was a black man. https://t.co/nr5RmTOI6E pic.twitter.com/rXi77eNi3I
— Viva Frei (@thevivafrei) March 13, 2023
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Several publications, including NextShark and The Hollywood Reporter, also made the same distinction when Yeoh’s nomination for Best Actress was announced in January.
Twitter has since removed the community notes, which also had a link to a YouTube Short posted by Vox explaining why media outlets have made the distinction.
However, it was noted that NPR did not provide context about Oberon’s nomination in its report.
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Despite the explanations, many Twitter users still criticized the outlet for its wording, pushing it to edit the distinction in its updated report.
NPR's report originally called Yeoh the first "self-identified Asian actress" to win the Best Actress Oscar. After its update, Yeoh is called the first "Asian woman" to win the award. A paragraph explaining "the caveat 'who identifies as Asian'" was also removed from the updated report.
“Please don’t detract from her Oscar win with this silliness. If one is born in Asia are they not Asian?” one Twitter user wrote. “Unless they are born of foreign parents under some sort of armed forces agreement, which is not the case here.”
Please don’t detract from her Oscar win with this silliness. If one is born in Asia are they not Asian? Unless they are born of foreign parents under some sort of armed forces agreement, which is not the case here.
— Priscilla Pilon (@PriscillaPilon) March 13, 2023
“Lol... she IS Asian,” another user commented. “Good lord NPR consistently shows itself to be worthless liberal nonsense.”
Lol... she IS Asian.
Good lord NPR consistently shows itself to be worthless liberal nonsense.
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) March 13, 2023
“The community notes on this is ridiculous. Even if Yeoh wasn't ‘open about her Asian heritage’ she still wouldn't be confused for a black man,” wrote right-wing political commentator Ian Miles Cheong.
The community notes on this is ridiculous. Even if Yeoh wasn't "open about her Asian heritage" she still wouldn't be confused for a black man.
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) March 13, 2023
Yeoh made history by becoming the first Asian woman to win Best Actress on Sunday for her role in Best Picture winner “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibility,” Yeoh said in her acceptance speech. “And ladies, don’t let anyone ever tell you you are past your prime.”
The “Crazy Rich Asians” star bested other notable actors for the Best Actress award, including Cate Blanchett (“Tár”), Ana de Armas (“Blonde”), Andrea Riseborough (“To Leslie”) and Michelle Williams (“The Fablemans”).
Commenting on the historical moment, Yeoh thanked the Academy Awards at the Oscars press room backstage for “acknowledging and embracing diversity and true representation.”
And we need this, because there are so many who have felt unseen, unheard. It’s not just the Asian community — this is for everyone who has ever identified as a minority. We deserve to be heard, we deserve to be seen, we deserve to have equal opportunities so we can have a seat at the table. That’s all we are asking for. Give us that opportunity, let us prove we are worth it.