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The final, and arguably most important award at the Academy Awards is announced at the end of the ceremony. And this year it was Sean Penn who presented the Best Picture award to director Alejandro González Iñárritu for his film, Birdman. But, upon presenting, Penn made a joke about the director’s immigrant status which caused quite the backlash from critics. Now, a month later, Penn is opening up about the joke, and basically telling everybody who didn’t find it funny, to fuck off.
As Penn opened the envelope to announce Birdman, he cracked a smile and joked towards his friend, director Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Who gave this son of bitch his green card?” The crowd had mixed reactions, but it was social media and critics who expressed serious outrage from the comment. Penn found all the backlash to be ridiculous, and he told The Associated Press:
I'm always surprised by flagrant stupidity. I keep having more hope…I have absolutely no apologies. In fact, I have a big fuck you for every...anybody who is so stupid not to have gotten the irony when you've got a country that is so xenophobic. If they had their way, you wouldn't have great filmmakers like Alejandro working in this country. Thank god we do.
Penn also went on to explain that the order of his comments during the presentation were intentional. He and Iñárritu are good friends, the two worked together on the 2003 film 21 Grams, so Penn continued:
There's a little inside humor with he and I where I know, and wanted to know, that he would be the first person in that room to know that his film won
So what it really comes down to is that Penn’s comment was not a jab at the director’s Mexican nationality, but more a reminder of the opportunity that his immigration gave him, and a thank you for that. It was a joke, but it held heavy meaning. And after the ceremony when Iñárritu was asked about his own reaction to the joke the director stated:
I found it hilarious. Sean and I have that kind of brutal (relationship) where only true friendship can survive.
Despite all the uproar in lieu of the comment, it seems that the two men were just exchanging an inside joke. The Oscars have been getting a lot of backlash lately though. This year’s host Neil Patrick Harris admitted that he would not return to the hosting position as it was just too trying, and today, the three-year producers of the ceremony have bowed out of overseeing a fourth. So next year we’ll just have to see what new host, producers and controversy awaits.