updated - May 20, 2013 Monday EDT
Joan Rivers isn’t exactly known for her politically correct humor. The Fashion Police star and longtime comedian found herself in hot water after a not so innocent sounding joke on her E! show's Oscar wrap-up. Commenting on German supermodel Heidi Klum’s showstopping gold dress with an incredibly plunging neckline, Rivers made the joke, “The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens.”
This caused quite the controversy, and the Anti-Defamation League, posted the following remark on their website: “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.”
Rivers herself is Jewish—but does that make the comment better or worse? It’s not the first time she’s made a holocaust joke, and it’s not the first time she’s gotten trouble for it. Last year, when Costco decided not to carry her book, she compared the large warehouse chain to Nazi Germany. After people expressed outrage at the comparison, she said, “Don’t talk to me about the Holocaust,” according to the Anti-Defamation League’s website.
Let’s not forget that she, like many other comedians, has made a career out of being politically incorrect and controversial, never missing an opportunity to throw a barb at a celebrity. Even the format of her show relies on Joan Rivers making snarky comments about what celebrities wear, and to riff on that, often bringing their personal lives into the mix. For most of the episodes, the rest of the panel of “fashion police” often look as though they want to crawl under the table or shush Joan, as they shake their heads and smile weakly. The whole appeal is that push and pull—that “Oh, Joan” cringe factor, for which (primarily female) viewers continue to tune in. Should she stop now, in her seventies? Even if she should, it seem doubtful she will.
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