"Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?" joked actor Sean Penn after announcing that Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman won Best Picture at last night's 87th Academy Awards.
The comment from Penn, who has been a friend of the Mexican director since their days working together on the film 21 Grams in 2003, caused the Internet to bristle. Although Iñárritu later told Variety that he didn't find the joke offensive and indeed thought it was "hilarious," some Mexicans and U.S. Latinos weren't laughing. Minutes after Penn's incendiary remarks, social media gave birth to the hashtag Sean #Penndejo, a play on the actor's name and the Spanish word for "stupid asshole."
Political pundits on both sides of the border also weighed in:
"I think that Sean Penn only intended it as a joke. Let's not let sensibility kill our sense of humor." — Univision news anchor Enrique Acevedo
"Mr. Penn. Hopefully they would give out more green cards to the Mexican workers that today live in the shadows and anxiety." — Televisa news anchor Joaquín López-Dóriga
In any case, Iñárritu followed Penn's comment by actually making some remarks on Mexico's situation — something he failed to mention during his previous trips to stage last night.
This time, Iñárritu ended his speech by slamming the Mexican government and calling for better immigration laws in the U.S.
"I want to dedicate this award for my fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico. I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve," said Iñárritu who along with prominent Mexican filmmakers Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro has been critical of the country's political and security crisis.
"And the ones living in this country who are part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country, I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect as the ones who came before and built this incredible immigrant nation," Iñárritu added.