Viewers sour on Sean Penn's Mexican immigrant joke at Oscars
Sean Penn presents the award for best picture at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP / Invision / John Shearer)
Published Monday, February 23, 2015 12:56AM EST
Sean Penn's casual green card remark about Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu touched off a firestorm of outrage on social media following the Oscars.
Penn was on stage to announce the final Academy Award of the night, a Best Picture win for Inarritu's film 'Birdman.' The Mexican-born director had also just won top directing honours.
Penn opened the envelope with the Best Picture winner, paused for a moment, then said: "Who gave this son of a b--- his green card? 'Birdman.'"
It was a casual joke by an actor who once worked for Innaritu in '21 Grams,' but it didn't sit well with many who were watching the internationally-televised awards show.
Sean Penn: Your peers elected you as the best, but one more time real quick lemme make you feel like you don't really belong.— Jared Wade (@Jared_Wade) February 23, 2015
Granted Sean penn was n 21 grams but some jokes u keep Btwn friend and not on major public stages— DANCESTADAMUS (@dances) February 23, 2015
Sorry. Blacked out for a minute there when Sean Penn hit us with that racist bomb.— Beth Thorne (@bethorne) February 23, 2015
Sean Penn only had to get through 3 minutes worth without needlessly angering people. Just couldn't pull it off.— Harold Cook (@HCookAustin) February 23, 2015
Would it have been just as fun if Sean Penn made a "joke" about slavery?— Citlali Garcia (@citlali_gm) February 23, 2015
Innaritu didn't appear bothered by the joke. Instead, he used part of his Best Picture acceptance speech to speak about the plight of Mexicans in the United States, and to remind his audience that the U.S. was formed by immigrants from other nations long ago.
It wasn't the only time racism reared its head during the telecast. Host Neil Patrick Harris opened the night by poking fun at the number of white people nominated this year.
"Today, we honour Hollywood's best and whitest. Sorry… brightest," he said.