Jimmy Kimmel is facing backlash for a “tone deaf” immigration joke about British comedian John Oliver, which he made while hosting the Emmys on Sunday. The two talk show hosts were up against one another for the Outstanding Talk Series award, which was handed to Oliver, who presents “Last Week Tonight.” Kimmel meanwhile received a participation Emmy for his show. He also received DVDs for the sitcom “Young Sheldon,” which sparked the controversial quip.
“That’s way better than a stupid Emmy,” Kimmel said of his prize, according to Fox News. “Congratulations again to John Oliver, I will be reporting him to ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] tomorrow.”
Many Emmy viewers found the joke to be in poor taste and took to social media to slam Kimmel.
“flipped on the emmys to hear jimmy kimmel make 1 tragically tone deaf joke about “reporting john oliver to ICE” directly after he was given an award, aaaaaand now i’m leaving,” one person tweeted.
“The amount of white privilege it took for Jimmy Kimmel to get up on stage at a nationally televised event and make a joke about ICE and have no one tell him that that isn’t okay, is absolutely astonishing to me,” another Twitter user wrote.
Others pointed out Kimmel’s history of racial insensitivity, which was highlighted after video re-emerged of the talk show host appearing in blackface during old skits.
“So Jimmy Kimmel can do Black-face and still end up on the Emmy’s where he made an ICE deportation joke… and y’all say white privilege isn’t a thing,” another Twitter user noted.
In June, Kimmel said in a statement that in the 1990s he did a recurring impression of NBA star Karl Malone, initially on KROQ radio and later on television. Makeup artists made him look as much like Malone as possible, he said, adding that he was sorry he hadn’t addressed the issue earlier.
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