Sunday night's Juno awards took an unexpected turn when co-host Russell Peters opened up the evening with what can only be called a distasteful joke.
"Look at all the young girls," the comedian exclaimed to the crowd at Ottawa's Canadian Tire Centre. "This is a felony waiting to happen."
Just to put things into context, in the nation's capital, about one-quarter of sexual assault cases reported take place around mass events, according to the Ottawa Citizen. So Peters' comments were just that much more insensitive to say at the Junos (and at all), and in turn pissed a lot of people off.
"This kind of 'joke' isn’t even really made for humour; it’s not clever, it’s not original, and it’s not funny," feminist rapper Kira-Lynn Ferderber wrote in the Citizen on Monday. "This 'joke' is the kind of thing men say to assert power and control, to remind girls around them that they can be victimized at any time, and that men will laugh."
"This is the kind of comment men make when they want young girls to feel embarrassed, nervous and ashamed."
"This 'joke' is the kind of thing men say to assert power and control, to remind girls around them that they can be victimized at any time, and that men will laugh." —Kira-Lynn Ferderber
But this wasn't the only concerning remark Peters made during the evening.
Before Heritage Minister Melanie Joly was due on stage to present an award alongside musician Coleman Hell, the Toronto native referred to Joly as "hot" on-air, which didn't leave her too pleased.
She later addressed his comment outside the House of Commons Monday, and didn't hold back when it came to speaking her mind.
"We need to make sure that all our role models are supporting the importance of gender parity," Joly said. "I really hope that he takes that into consideration and understands ... the importance of what he said."
She also added that his comments were inappropriate and had no place at the Junos.
Folks in the crowd, along with those watching at home, took to Twitter to express their concerns about the night as well.
"Good to hear that over the weekend you all figured out how much Russell Peters sucks," BuzzFeed writer and author Scaachi Koul said.
"Russell Peters fucked it all the way up at the Junos," Canadian throat singer Tanya Tagaq added.
Angry viewers also left a wrath of heated words in the 46 year old's Instagram photo of him backstage with co-host Bryan Adams and Prime Minister Trudeau. Leaving comments like, "That guy is such a douche," and "I stopped watching [the Junos] because of the demeaning comments. There are other ways to be funny."
Aside from the controversial joke, the Juno awards itself was criticized for its lack of female nominees. According to musician Alysha Brilla, only four women have ever won the producer award in Junos' history. And this year, the album awards had only one woman nominated for each category.
"I don’t want to see women take over the industry. I want to see a balance," Brilla told the Canadian Press. "[But] there’s a lot of resistance, mainly from folks who don’t think there’s a problem in the first place."
As for Mr. Peters, he has yet to respond to any of the backlash. But let's hope he's realized joking about any form of sexual assault just isn't funny.
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