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Was Ellen's Joke About Liza During The Oscars' Opening "Transphobic," As Critics Contend?

Was Ellen's joke about Liza Minnelli being a female impersonator "transphobic"? 

The Internet is aflame with critics lobbing the serious accusations Ellen's way after the Academy Awards host flatly poked fun at Liza's drag queen following. 

"Hello to the best Liza Minnelli impersonator I’ve ever seen,” Ellen laughed. “Good job, sir.”

The camera panned to Liza, who was very obviously not laughing at the joke. She was joined online by folks like director Bruce LaBruce, who decided Ellen's punch line was "transphobic."

Michael Phillips, a film critic at the Tribune, agreed:

These sensitive folks and the others who've retweeted them seem to forget that there is a fundamental difference between a drag queen and a transg woman. But who cares what I think! What do you think, Instincters? Was Ellen's joke about Liza transphobic as many have come forward to contend or simply harmless?

(h/t: HuffPo)

Comments

Wow, really? Ellen tansphobic? Please....

Ellen never mentioned trans anything.

If you think about it, the ones being offensive are those screaming about this.  THEY are the ones equating trans with male impersonators, NOT Ellen.

I am a drag queen and me and my friends got LIFE from the joke. People love finding excuses to make a fuss. A lesbian comedian made a drag queen joke about a gay icon who is known to have a HUGE drag queen following. Yea Bruce this is grounds for WAR!!!

Love your comment!  I'm hetero, myself...but LOVE them both!

Who the hell is Bruce LaBruce? Liza is not an idiot. At first she was not laughing but later she did. Ellen was on the border between offending and joking but she did not really offend anybody. 
Leave her alone. 

Hey Ellen, you are (1) week older than me, and I don't know how you felt, in 1972, when you HAD to have seen the movie CABARET, but I was completely mesmerized by the beauty, unbelievable dance talent, magnificent, positively STERLING voice and remarkable acting given by Liza Minnelli. I, too, am a gay woman and at 14 years of age, I could no longer deny that I was a lesbian. Miss Minnelli knocked me for a loop! Ever since then, I have seen her live every single chance I could...because she sings about happy, inspiring, keep your chin-up, show stopping numbers. Liza's a legend because SHE EARNED THE TITLE.  Any time I feel down Liza picks me up. I love this wonderful person with all my heart. She is the most kind, warm, generous, friendly LADY I've ever heard of, (and, trust me, after 42 years now), I feel like I know her. She was there to honor her mother, the GREAT Judy Garland, and you slammed her with a very insensitive remark, right off the bat! I think it was an unintended mistake on your part, but I saw her face, and you hurt her...and it really pissed me off. She's a wonderful person. She's been on your show. I KNOW you know she's a GEM, so I just wish you would apologize to HER. She's far too much a class act to want this to become more public than it already has. I simply adore this LADY...and if you don't think you hurt her, take another look at the phone camera picture you took of the two of you later that evening. YOU HURT MY Minnelli! You should fix it, for HER.  

Bruce LaBruce  you are an idiot  and just trying to start trouble. Liza got the joke (even though it took a few seconds for her synapses to fire right). She did look like a female impersonator in that dress. Next thing you know people will be saying Ellen is a cheapskate Because she passed the hat around for the pizza.

It was funny, even Liza laugh at it. I don´t see the big deal really.

Have you seen some of these professional men dressed as Liza? Please, if anything, it was an homage to Liza and her huge support for the LGTB community and the love the community has for her. For many of those impersonators, it's an honor to be really pull off a Liza. The joke is, there can only be ONE Liza, so it's funny because........duh........get it? 

I think someone's had a sense of humour and personality bypass here ! If we can't take a hand out of ourselves and be able to joke with one another, then we've really lost the plot. Get a life Bruce....and maybe a different surname...a bit daft if you ask me.

I don't think Ellen's joke was an insult to trans-genders or drag queens. I do think it became un-funny when she insulted Ms. Minnelli with the crack about her being a man however. Liza looked no more a man in drag then Ellen look like a woman in anything she wears these days. The percentage of lesbians who dress like or in men's clothing is a way higher percentage then homosexuals who wear a dress in public, drag queen or transvestites. Ellen is a beautiful woman, would it kill her to look like one once in a while?

Caddy Queens As Usual It Wasnt That Bad And She Is On Our Side People Lighten Up OMG Pathetic 

It was as harmless joke for god sakes. Get over it and move on. After all Liza has been a staple in the drag community for as long as I can remember. There is always one some where ready to pop out with a song.

I will say this how can anyone cross reference trans & drag they are two totally different things !!  I myself am a celebrity impersonator & i did not find it offensive ! leave ellen alone she has been the best host the oscars has had in many years ! as for liza herself if she were upset you would have known it  !! 

You know as a genderfluid person I am getting sick of all this nit-picking at trans things. I am not cisgendered but I love his people and am bisexual therefore attracted to his people. I have been told that i am transphobic because I dont find myself sexually attracted to trans people. This is really out of hand that people always have to find jokes a personal insult. She made a joke. Was it in blue taste? Yeah a little. But its a joke and its kind of her thing to pick on people with humor. Not everything that involves trans people and humor is NOT transphobic. Unless you are oppressing the people and their rights or bullying them; you are not transphobic.

I agree that the joke was in somewhat poor taste considering she was there to honor her late mother. Now regarding Liza's like or dislike of it, she was interviewed earlier and seemed pretty far gone, either drunk or medicated, so I'm not sure from this clip we can tell if she was laughing or annoyed, but knowing Liza and the ways she has joked with female impersonators portraying her, she probably was not overly offended, and no it was not a slam on transgendered people.

I don't believe for a moment it was a transgender assault...it was a joke that didn't fly...but it was a joke...some are funny and some aren't...it's life.  I don't think in all of her years on this planet that Ms. Minnelli hasn't learned to deal with jokes...

Good god, the pearl clutching that goes on when anyone says anything is ridiculous. There was nothing trans-phobic about Ellen's comments. Lighten the fuck up, seriously. There are so many real instances of attacks against trans people that whining about absolutely nothing just detracts from that. Get over yourself if you were offended by this.

It was a drag queen joke. A joke about professional gender illusionist cross-dressing, nothing about gender-transitioning individuals. Get your "trans" terminologies in order (almost said straight). She was making a lighthearted transvestite joke, not a transsexual slam.

Exactly - it doesn't even make sense to label anything about this as having to do with the transgendered. It's just stupid.

Was it a trans-phobic joke? And here I thought it was a Drag Queen joke.... You know, like all the guys that impersonate Liza? All the same impersonators that she's celebrated over the many years. "The camera panned to Liza, who was very obviously not laughing at the joke". Looks more like she turned to her sister with a "OMG, I can't believe she just said that!" while her sister busts out laughing her asp off.  If someone is going to confuse a transsexual with either a drag queen or a  female impersonator, then THEY don't know what the heck THEY'RE talking about.
 

nope, but this article is! trans people are not "female impersonators" or drag queens! they're trans and thinking they're the same thing is disrespectful on the part of the critics...

It wasn't funny but I didn't find it offensive at all. And really--we're taking etiquette advice from Bruce LaBruce??  Has anyone seen his movies????

I fail to see how her remarks have to be interpreted as being offensive to transgendered folks.  Gay men have been performing as Liza and Cher for decades.  That does not make them transgendered.  Drag is not the same as being transgendered.  So folks need to get a grip.

isn't this the same bruce labruce who in one of his movies had a skinhead refering to a black guy as monkey boy?

really when did he get so pc

How can you tell if Minnelli was obviously not laughing at the joke? It takes a couple of appointments with her plastic surgeon to adjust her expression accordingly.

Ellen does great things for people but in my opinion her comedy is limited and stale, the same stutter and delivery each and every time, don't get my wrong I thinks she a great humanitarian but not such a great comedian these days

Thank god the comments get it. Trans & Drag totally two different things entirely

Everybody needs to stop taking this stuff so seriously..ellen would never offend anyone puposely..thwres way more important stuff going on in the world...Ellen is an angel

That was just a joke. Not very funny, not very original but harmless.  Get a life, whingers...

The joke was hilarious, Lorna thought so! The losers who think it was some kind of slam don't know the difference between transgender and drag and probably spend their days walking the streets looking for absolutely nothing by which to be offended. 

I think it was a compliment. You can't get offended at the words you put in someone's mouth. Ellen didn't say "tranny" or anything like it. She complimented the ersatz Liza on "his" appearance. Pretty soon, they'll just line the stars up and give them trophies. No need for a host who may offend or an acceptance speech that might go awry. 

Research the specific relationship between Liza and Drag performance and then come back to me and tell me if Ellen Degeneres' joke wasn't spot on. Her sister (Lorna Luft) is sitting right next to her laughing hysterically because she immediately got the joke. It's possible Liza didn't even hear what Ellen said and also her face isn't really moving a lot these days (bless her heart) so I don't know what her laughing would look like...

But in all seriousness, Liz is a ubiquitous character in drag so the idea that she could have been a drag queen sitting there has NOTHING to do with trans women and anyone who implies that is just being ridiculous.

Unless you think Liza IS a trans woman herself, in which case calling her "sir" would be insensitive. 

Their comments were transphobic. There is a difference between trans and drag. Educate yourselves. 

You are right. There is a difference between trans and drag. And Ellen was plainly, obviously and directly making a drag joke. How many Liza drag impersonators are there? It's not like she picked on some unnamed, unfamous person. She was making fun of Liza Minnelli. And with all the work that poor woman has subjected herself to, now looks like a caricature of herself.

i laughed so hard! its a joke get over it!

It was absolutely not meant to hurt or disrespect anyone.  Ellen, of all people, would never intentionally do something like that!

My god. People cant make a joke about anything now days. So sad.

It was harmless. Obviously these people are ultra sensitive and need to grow some thick skin and balls. Get over it. People like this annoy the hell out of me. 

Exactly!

EXACTLY. Ugh.

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