Joan Rivers is getting criticized for making fun of prostitutes.
This new dust-up for the outspoken queen of comedy apparently emanates from an organization called Girls Education & Mentoring Services (GEMS), a New York-based group that advocates for prostitutes – or, as the organization puts it on its Web site: “[GEMS] is the only organization in New York State specifically designed to serve girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking.”
According to this story, GEMS doesn’t like a segment on Rivers’ weekly fashion-talk show “Fashion Police” (seen Friday nights at 10:30/9:30c) that Rivers calls “Starlet or Streetwalker.” As with most of the commentary on “Fashion Police,” this segment is designed to poke fun at some of the tacky outfits worn in public by various celebrities by comparing them to hookers.
Whatever the merits (or lack thereof) of this particular segment, GEMS doesn’t appreciate the humor. “I watched with growing discomfort as I realized that these women – poor women, desperate women, drug-addicted women, women under the control of a pimp, women who are victims of violence and exploitation – were being used to highlight wealthy celebrities’ poor fashion choices,” says GEM’s director, Rachel Lloyd. “Mocking Celebrity X for wearing an ill-advised $15,000 couture gown to the Oscars is quite different than mocking a woman who is literally living on the streets. I doubt if E! would have fashion segments called ‘Homeless or Hollywood?’, ‘Drug Addict or Debutante?’, ‘Poor or Posh?.’ Yet because these women are not ‘just’ potentially homeless, drug addicted, and definitely poor, but are ‘streetwalkers,’ prostitutes, whores, hookers, they’re considered fair game.”
She probably has a point – it is doubtful that “Fashion Police” would have segments with those other titles she mentions. And she’s reportedly gathering “signatures” on an on-line petition aimed at persuading Rivers to drop the “Streetwalkers” segment.
But her criticism also seems like nitpicking. It also strikes us as another in a growing number of instances in which a comedian is coming under fire for pushing the envelope – like Tracy Morgan earlier this summer when he was criticized for joking – a tad cruelly, we suppose – about homosexuals in his nightclub act.
Whether Joan Rivers is aware of this latest criticism, or even cares about it, could not be determined since she hasn’t made any comment about it.