American Jewish groups have hit out at one of the comedy routines performed during the Academy Awards show on Sunday night, accusing it of anti-Semitism.
The awards ceremony, presented this year by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, was lambasted by the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center for a sketch starring the foul-mouthed teddy bear "Ted", voiced by MacFarlane and the eponymous star of a recent hit movie.
During the sketch Ted tells his movie co-star Mark Wahlberg that in order to "work in this town" (Hollywood) he must be Jewish. He then goes on to say, "I was born Theodore Shapiro and I would like to donate to Israel and continue to work in Hollywood forever."
Abe Foxman of the ADL branded the routine "offensive and not remotely funny".
"To many who know little or nothing about Hollywood or the falsity of such Jewish stereotypes, there’s a much higher potential for the ‘Jews control Hollywood’ myth to be accepted as fact," said the statement from the ADL.
"It only reinforces stereotypes which legitimize anti-Semitism. It is sad and disheartening that the Oscars awards show sought to use anti-Jewish stereotypes for laughs," Foxman's statement said. He also expressed the regret that MacFarlane and the Academy Awards producers had not shown greater sensitivity and decided against airing a sketch that so reinforced age-old canard about Jewish control of the film industry.
The segment also drew fire from the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“It is unfortunate that at a time when anti-Semitism is so prevalent throughout the world that Seth McFarlane used the pulpit of the Oscars, before an audience of more than a billion people, to contribute to the myth that Jews own Hollywood,” said a statement from the Center.
“The Oscars are transmitted to every corner of the globe, even to such places where such hateful myths are believed as fact. Every comedian is entitled to wide latitude, but no one should get a free pass for helping to promote anti-Semitism.”