At one point during the show, host Jimmy Kimmel spoke to eight-year-old “Lion” star Sunny Pawar about how he was enjoying the night. Kimmel then asked if Pawar had ever seen Disney’s “The Lion King” and asked if the young boy would like to re-enact the scene where Simba is held up by the monkey Rafiki.
The skit received a positive reaction from the crowd at the Dolby Theatre and some Twitter users revealed they couldn’t get enough of the “cute” moment.
But many other viewers were quick to note the skit had an underlying racial tone that made it problematic.
Many also claimed that Kimmel’s skit made Pawar, a young person of colour, the butt of the joke.
Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth also noted: “He would NOT have held up a little white kid like Simba and played the song from Lion King -- nope, not even for a film called ‘Lion.’”
While some maintain that Kimmel’s joke was not racist, explaining that he was “poking fun at the movie LITERALLY BEING NAMED ‘LION,’” others are still on the fence despite the fact that the moment left them feeling uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only gimmick Kimmel made at a person of colour's expense. He also poked fun of Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali’s name after he won Best Supporting Actor for “Moonlight.” Naturally, the joke did not sit well with Twitter.
Sadly, this is also not the first time an Oscar host has made fun of people of colour at the awards show. Last year, host Chris Rock made a tasteless joke about Asian stereotypes after bringing out three Asian kids dressed as PricewaterhouseCooper accountants.
Here's hoping next year's Oscars leaves racial jokes at the door.
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