Veteran comedian Joan Rivers has been blasted by a Jewish pressure group for a joke she made about German supermodel Heidi Klum’s daring Oscars outfit.
“The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens,” said Joan Rivers – herself Jewish – before doubling over with laughter.
Joan Rivers, 79, made the comment about the Holocaust on Monday’s Fashion Police show on E! when reviewing the low-cut shimmering gold dress worn by Heidi Klum to attend Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party in West Hollywood.
The joke has attracted the wrath of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization that combats anti-Semitism, and says Joan Rivers has trivialized an horrific event.
ADL leader Abraham Foxman said: “Of all people, Joan Rivers should know better. This remark is so vulgar and offensive to Jews and Holocaust survivors, and indeed to all Americans, that we cannot believe it made it to the airwaves.
“Making it worse, not one of her co-hosts made any effort to respond or to condemn this hideous statement, leaving it hanging out there and giving it added legitimacy through their silence.
“Almost as bad as her original comment is the fact that she sat there doubled over with laughter after saying it.”
Abraham Foxman continued: “There are certain things about the Holocaust that should be taboo. This is especially true for Jews, for whom the Holocaust is still a deeply painful memory.
“It is vulgar and offensive for anybody to use the death of six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust to make a joke, but this is especially true for someone who is Jewish and who proudly and publicly wears her Jewishness on her sleeve.”
Joan Rivers has been blasted by a Jewish pressure group for a joke she made about German supermodel Heidi Klum’s daring Oscars outfit
Joan Rivers has refused to apologize, claiming her humor help to keeps the Holocaust in the public consciousness.
The comedian said: “My husband lost the majority of his family at Auschwitz, and I can assure you that I have always made it a point to remind people of the Holocaust through humor.”
Joan Rivers’ husband, Edgar Rosenberg, was born in Germany but his family emigrated to Denmark and then South Africa in order to escape the Nazis.
Joan Rivers and Edgar Rosenberg married in 1965 after he hired her to work with him on a screenplay. Edgar Rosenberg committed suicide by overdosing on prescription drugs in 1987.
Family Guy comedian Seth MacFarlane found himself at the centre of more scandal on Monday in the wake of his controversial hosting of Oscars 2013.
Seth MacFarlane caused outrage among viewers when his Ted alter-ego took to the stage at Sunday night’s ceremony with Mark Wahlberg, and told his co-star that if he “wants to work in this town” he’s got to be Jewish.
His Ted then added to Mark Wahlberg: “I was born Theodore Shapiro and I would like to donate to Israel and continue to work in Hollywood forever.”
But the gags, which came as the pair presented the award for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing, weren’t received well by many Jewish rights groups, with the comedian labeled “offensive, unfunny and inappropriate”.
Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement: “While we have come to expect inappropriate <<Jews control Hollywood>> jokes from Seth MacFarlane, what he did at the Oscars was offensive and not remotely funny.
“It only reinforces stereotypes which legitimize anti-Semitism. It is sad and disheartening that the Oscars awards show sought to use anti-Jewish stereotypes for laughs.”
The League’s Founder and Dean, Rabbi Marvin Hier, added: “The Oscars are transmitted to every corner of the globe, even to such places where such hateful myths are believed as fact.
“Every comedian is entitled to wide latitude, but no one should get a free pass for helping to promote anti-Semitism.”
The statement continued with the League accusing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of failing to show “greater sensitivity” by allowing the sketch to be aired during the show.
Seth MacFarlane divided opinion with many of his jokes, which saw him take mock Adele’s weight and Chris Brown and Rihanna’s relationship, as well as a sketch which was deemed racist after the comedian used a colored sock to illustrated Denzel Washington.
However, a spokeperson for the Academy said in a statement of Seth MacFarlane’s hosting: “If the Oscars are about anything, they’re about creative freedom.
“We think the show’s producers, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, and host Seth MacFarlane, did a great job, and we hope our worldwide audience found the show entertaining.”
If Seth MacFarlane’s success is to be judged by the ratings of the show, then controversy rules.
The 85th Oscars cracked 40 million viewers for the first time since 2010 – pulling 40.3 million viewers on ABC, an overall increase of 3% from 2012’s telecast hosted by veteran master of ceremonies Billy Crystal, which drew 39.3 million viewers.
Even better, viewership rose 11% in the important 18-49 demographic with a 13.0 rating over the 2012 show’s 11.7 rating in the same category
However, the show failed to top the 2004 Oscar’s audience of 43.5 million viewers who tuned in to watch Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King take Best Picture.
Despite the success of the show, Seth MacFarlane said on Tuesday that he would not return to host another show.
Retweeting a message from another website asking him if he would reprise his presenting role, Seth MacFarlane replied: “No way. Lotta fun to have done it, though.”
According to the comedian’s sister, Seth MacFarlane had to be reassured at length by his family that things went well after the ceremony.
Speaking on Access Hollywood Live, Seth MacFarlane’s sister Rachael explained: “He’s incredibly, incredibly critical of himself. So we were saying, <<You were fantastic, it was amazing>>. He said, <<I’m always going to find something>>.”