The 2015 Oscars were filled with uplifting stories, calls to action for ALS and Alzheimer’s and a powerful reminder of the civil rights movement. But Sean Penn’s comment, right before announcing the Best Picture award at Sunday night’s ceremony, may have undone it all.
As he prepared to announce Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “Birdman” as the film of the year, Penn made a reference to the Mexican director’s immigration status.
“Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?,” Penn said right before announcing the winner.
Twitter went into a frenzy, as users denounced what the actor likely thought was a joke. Many said the comment was “insensitive” to the plight of many immigrants in the United States and “racist.”
— Nina Terrero (@Nina_Terrero) February 23, 2015
Others, like Fusion’s Mariana Atencio and Entertainment Weekly’s Nina Terrero, pointed out that the comment promoted Latino stereotypes because none of the British actors in attendance were questioned about their immigration status.
Iñárritu, who worked with Penn in the film “21 Grams,” went on to give an inspiring acceptance speech and dedicated his award to Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. The director’s final words during the ceremony were quite timely:
I want to dedicate this award for my fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico,” Iñárritu said. “I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve. And the ones that live in this country, who are part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country, I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect of the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation.
Earlier in the evening, Iñárritu became only the second Latin American to win the Oscar for Best Director. One year after his close friend Alfonso Cuarón won for “Gravity.” “Birdman” won a total of four Oscars on Sunday night.
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