Did Ellen DeGeneres create a new enemy in Liza Minnelli? The legendary actress seemed upset during the Oscars after the talk show host insinuated that she was a drag queen in her opening monologue. Among the gentle ribbing that DeGeneres provided throughout the show was a joke in which she looked at Minnelli and said, “Hello to the best Liza Minnelli impersonator I’ve ever seen. Good job, sir.” The joke got plenty of laughs, but DeGeneres was surprisingly labeled as “transphobic” afterward.
Minnelli addressed the joke last night and said that while she wasn’t laughing, she didn’t think DeGeneres meant any harm either. “I think she thought it would be funny. But she never stopped after she said it and said ‘my friend Liza Minnelli,’” said the performer. “I think it went a little astray on her. I don’t think she meant any harm at all and she’s a wonderful lady and I think she did great.”
But some Twitter users weren’t so kind during the Oscars and accused DeGeneres of being prejudiced towards transgender people. “I did not appreciate Ellen’s mean joke about Liza. I found it transphobic and disrespectful,” one tweeted. Another Twitter used claimed that the “Liza-tranny joke that must’ve been laying around from last year’s MacFarlane edition.”
However, some people thought the criticism against DeGeneres was political correctness going overboard. Dan Gainor, VP of Business and Culture at the Media Research Center, said that “America has been bombarded by sudden PC rules involving the trans community. Even a gay icon like Ellen now falls victim to their criticism. Gone is the concept of tolerance or even acceptance.” Matthew Breen, editor in chief of The Advocate, noted that the joke “wasn't about transgender people. DeGeneres's joke was poking fun at Minnelli, a performer who is legendary, in part because she is so often flattered by imitation.”
Minelli also addressed DeGeneres’ Twitter selfie during the Oscars that broke the retweeting record on the social media site. The celebrity-filled photo was responsible for briefly crashing Twitter after it was retweeted over a million times in just one hour and more than two million times overall. “It was funny because all the men just pushed [me] out of the way and it made me laugh so hard,” said Minnelli. “It was a good joke.”