Late night talk show host Jay Leno is facing criticism for making remarks that some gay rights groups consider to be homophobic. When Ryan Phillippe appeared on Leno’s show recently, Leno—referring to the actor’s former role as a gay character on a soap opera—said to Phillippe, “Say that camera was your gay lover. Can you give me your gayest look?” Phillippe didn’t play along, but finished his segment on the program. Jay Leno later issued a statement saying, “I realize that what I said came out wrong. I certainly didn’t mean any malice. I agree it was a dumb thing to say, and I apologize.”
What the commentators said
“Leno is so lacking in wit that his only apparent back-up is bigotry,” said Chelsea Fuddyment in DailyIllini.com. What does he “consider a ‘gay face’? A male one? An ‘effeminate’ one? One covered in bruises due to hate-motivated violence?” Some people might think I’m taking “this too seriously, but if we all just laugh it off, we become just as complicit in the ongoing oppression of LGBTQ individuals and their rights.”
Let’s not overreact, said Jennifer Cox in The National Ledger. “Leno usually avoids controversy and isn’t anything even close to a shock jock that would do this for ratings.” That being the case, “many gay people, including me, will likely give him a pass and just call it a poor attempt at humor that likely freaked out Phillippe.”
Come on, said Stuart Heritage in the blog Hecklerspray, as other people have pointed out, “Jay Leno wouldn’t have dreamt of asking Ryan Phillippe to pull his blackest face or his Jewiest face, would he?”
But at least Leno apologized, said the blog Defamer. And “now that the appropriate amends have been made, we urge everyone to get back to the important business of not caring what Jay Leno says or does.”
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