Actress Halle Berry has apologized for making a joke about Jewish noses during a taping of her appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Oct. 19. Berry was showing photos of herself that she had manipulated on her computer, and when she came to one of her with a huge nose, she said, “Here’s where I look like my Jewish cousin!” NBC substituted the comment with a laugh track before the show aired. During her apology, Berry said that while looking at the photo with one of her Jewish assistants before the show, the assistant had made the nose correlation.
What the commentators said
Can’t anybody take a joke anymore? said Michael Seitzman in The Huffington Post. “Someone says the word Jewish and we call 9-1-1?” Look, she “didn’t urinate on a Torah. She made a joke and it was funny.” Berry’s Jewish assistant thought so, and “on behalf of the rest of the thick-skinned Jews out there, I think so too.”
NBC clearly displayed favoritism toward Berry, said Debbie Schlussel in her blog. “Would they have saved a conservative this way?” Obviously Leno and NBC knew what she said was offensive “or they wouldn’t have secretly edited it out.” There’s such a double standard here. “Where are all the Ann Coulter critics who are so concerned with Anti-Semitism? I guess a bigoted, liberal (half)Black actress gets a pass where a conservative, blond, white commentator does not.”
It’s all about the context, said Cenk Uygur in AOL’s blog News Bloggers. Don Imus deserved “a break because he does a show that involves humor,” whereas the Fox News Channel doesn’t “because they say these types of things as serious commentary on social events.” And there’s a big difference between “perpetuating the stereotype rather than mocking it.” It’s pretty clear that Berry falls “pretty far toward the joking end” of this “spectrum.”