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Jerry Lewis’ Humanitarian Gay Slur Controversy

Jerry LewisNikki Finke on the announcement that Jerry Lewis will be given the 2009 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at Deadline Hollywood:

"I also have learned that protests are coming into the Academy about its Board of Governors’ choice of Jerry Lewis to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. The controversy is over his recent repeated and public anti-gay slurs. The Hollywood gay community, joined by much of the showbiz straight community, is already on edge because of Proposition 8 passed last month outlawing same-sex unions in California. So the vote by the AMPAS board selecting Lewis seems like ’salt poured into an open wound’, according to one of my sources. Already several prominent entertainment biz gays have questioned the Academy about the selection of Lewis, especially for a humanitarian award. I’m told the AMPAS response has been, ’he’s apologized’. My insiders say Tom Sherak, the former 20th Century Fox and Revolution Studios exec who raises money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and has a family member with MS, was primarily responsible for lobbying the board to choose Lewis."

***

Here’s a Huffington Post article on Lewis about his latest anti-gay public slur, two months ago on Australian television: "Oh, cricket? It’s a fag game. What are you, nuts?" (A previous one took place during the 2007 Labor Day MS telethon itself, not too long after the Isaiah Washington controversy. Lewis later apologized.)

In her post, Finke adds, "I say this is a terrible choice by the Academy. AMPAS isn’t bestowing on Lewis an honorary honor for his long career in the movies. The Hersholt is an award given to an individual in the motion picture industry ’whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry.[’] Despite Lewis’ laudatory 42 years of raising money for MDA, his publicly demonstrated debasement of gays doesn’t make him a humanitarian in my eyes."

Now, can someone be an insensitive humanitarian? Why not? Or even be both a humanitarian and a bigot? Certainly! Think of all those kindhearted people out there, those who do their best to help others — as long as those "others" don’t belong to some specific group(s) based on nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, gender, religion or lack thereof, and so on and so on…

But I wonder if Jerry Lewis had used some nasty racist or misogynist slur on television if the Academy would be giving him the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, regardless of all those muscular dystrophy telethons. Of course, it could be that in these tough economic times the Academy just couldn’t find enough multi-millionaire Hollywood philanthropists to honor with the Jean Hersholt Award. But then again…

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9 Comments to Jerry Lewis’ Humanitarian Gay Slur Controversy

  1. randall g gerber

    these days every minority is overly sensitive about in this case,gays and lesbians and the handicapped because jerry lewis known these days for putting his foot in his mouth and saying things. jerry lewis like everyone on the planet needs to take a class on sensitivy and better race relations.

  2. Dustin

    Mind you, Jerry Lewis HAS made sexist comments repeatedly, including the notorious:

    “I don’t like any female comedians. A woman doing comedy doesn’t offend me, but sets me back a bit. I, as a viewer, have trouble with it. I think of her as a producing machine that brings babies in the world.”

  3. It is not only the gay community that is angered by this award. The disability community is also angry.

    There’s a Facebook devoted to organizing protests against the award:
    http://www.facebook.com/groups.php#/topic.php?uid=40538392681&topic=7188

    For more information on why people with disabilities are offended by this award, check
    http://www.cripcommentary.com/LewisVsDisabilityRights.html

    And, as said above, there is the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/jlno2009/petition.html

  4. The problem with Jerry Lewis isn’t just his anti-gay remarks. He has actually insulted the very people he claims to help with the MDA telethon. Unfortunately he uses pity to raise money, which undermines the efforts of the disability rights movement. This isn’t JUST about his attitude toward gays. If you would like to sign the petition for him NOT to receive the award or learn more about Jerry’s “half a person” remarks about people with disabilities, please visit the following link:
    http://www.petitiononline.com/jlno2009/petition.html

  5. dinosore

    Aren’t there any other potential tributees (tributarees??) the Academy could have chosen? I just hope the guy doesn’t start telling any jokes.

  6. ozzz

    You only need ONE bathroom break?

  7. Sam Ort

    Now I know when I’ll be going for my usual bathroom break during the Oscar telecast.

  8. Marcus Tucker

    It’s Jerry Lewis, he’s known this sort of thing. I can’t imagine the anyone could ever be truly offended by him because this sort of thing is expected of him. I however do not think charity work excuses him from being so out of touch.

    You can have a big heart and still be an ass. His charity work actually helped my father’s grandparents pay for a great of the medical expenses when my gradmother contracted polio so I think Jerry is a good person, but a good person who talks out of his rear end.

  9. RANDALL G. GERBER

    WE LIVE IN A COUNTRY TODAY WHICH EVERYTIME SOMEONE SAYS SOMETHING ABOUT SOMEONE(JOKINGLY OR NOT)EVERYBODY GETS SO OVERLY SENSITIVE.EITHER ABOUT THEIR RACE OR THEIR RELIGION OR THEIR SEXUAL PREFRENCE.EVERYONE NEEDS TO GET A LIFE AND GET ON WITH IT.MR. LEWIS IS 82YRS.OLD,AND HE SAYS THINGS SOMETIME WITHOUT THINKING OR ATTEMPT AT HUMOR.HE IS NOY A BIGOT OR HOMOPHIC.GAYS AND LESBIANS NEED TO STOP BEING SO DAMN SENITIVE ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE(FAMOUS OR NOT)SAY,SO GET A LIFE.IT TOOK 45YRS. FOR THE MOTION PICTURE ACADEMY TO SOMETHING RIGHT FOR ONCE AND FINALLY HONOR JERRY LEWIS(EVEN IF IT’S NOT A HONORARY OSCAR)WITH A OSCAR OF ANY KIND.I AM NOT DEFENDING WHAT HE,AS I SAID BEFORE,STOP BEING SO OVER SENSITVE AND GET OVER IT AND GET A LIFE.I AM SICK OVER THIS NONSENSE.







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