Sean Penn's Not Apologizing For Green Card Joke

by Nicole Pomarico

Even though the 2015 Oscars had a lot of memorable moments, people are still talking about the green card comment Sean Penn made while presenting Birdman director Alejandro Innaritu with the award for Best Picture. In case you're a little foggy on the details — or too obsessed with Lady Gaga's tribute to The Sound of Music to pay it much mind — when Penn announced that Innaritu, who is Mexican, had won, he said, "Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?" Obviously, this triggered a reaction in a lot of people watching that Penn was making a racist joke. And although Penn and Innaritu are friends who have worked together before, the joke was still pretty tasteless, especially since so many people were offended, and now, Penn is finally speaking out about the joke for the first time. Instead of issuing an apology or an explanation, he's doing the opposite. Penn refuses to apologize for his green card remark, asserting that anyone who was offended is probably just stupid. No, really. He said that.

Despite the fact that Innaritu has said that he wasn't offended by the comment and found the joke "hilarious" since he and Penn are so close, people are still up in arms about Penn making a joke that could be perceived as racist. Penn talked about the backlash he's received since the Oscars while doing a press tour for his latest film, The Gunman, and he's not impressed by the way people have reacted. According to ABC News, he said:

"I'm always surprised by flagrant stupidity. I keep having more hope. The fact is that I understand it. I see it all the time. When somebody sees the opportunity to frame something in the comfort that it will be common — that they can do that and they can get a group to look at them and that they will take on those positions and never really think about what it was. I have absolutely no apologies. In fact, I have a big f—k you for every...anybody who is so stupid not to have gotten the irony when you've got a country that is so xenophobic. If they had their way, you wouldn't have great filmmakers like Alejandro working in this country. Thank God we do. There's a little inside humor with he and I where I know, and wanted to know, that he would be the first person in that room to know that his film won."
Michael Buckner/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Whether it was an inside joke or not — and whether Innaritu was offended or not — is kind of moot at this point. People other than Innaritu were offended, and at a time when it's a struggle for someone who belongs to a minority to even be nominated for such a prestigious award in such a white-dominated industry, jokes like Penn's draw the wrong kind of attention. Penn could've won points with his detractors for taking the opportunity to issue a well-worded apology to anyone who was offended, and instead decided to take the opposite path.

Hopefully future Oscars presenters with a similar sense of humor will learn from Penn's mistakes, even if Penn isn't going to. Maybe we'll have a more progressive ceremony in 2016?