Some viewers of the iHeartRadio Music Awards on Sunday night took to social media to vent about the opening monologue, saying one controversial joke by Jamie Foxx crossed the line.
Foxx, the actor and musician who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Ray Charles, hosted the second annual awards show in Los Angeles.
“We got some groundbreaking performances, here too, tonight,” Foxx said. “We got Bruce Jenner, who will be doing some musical performances. He’s doing a his-and-her duet all by himself.”
There have been reports that Jenner, an Olympic gold medalist, plans to transition from male to female. However, Jenner has not spoken publicly about any such possibility.
Many television viewers took to social media to complain that the joke was offensive to people struggling with issues of gender and sexual identity. The hashtag #iHeartRadioMusicAwards remained a top trend Monday.
“Jamie Foxx just made a terrible, disgusting joke about Bruce Jenner’s rumored transition on this trash awards show,” tweeted @laurennostro.
“Seriously #JamieFoxx? #BruceJenner jokes?” wrote @AngelaPquigley. “You’re disgusting, that’s not ok. It wasn’t funny, just mean spirited and lazy.”
Foxx’s joke wasn’t the only part of the show that made headlines. Pop princess Taylor Swift continued her recent hot streak by winning artist of the year and song of the year for her hit “Shake It Off.” Swift also played guitar onstage while Madonna sang her new song, “Rebel Heart.”
And Justin Timberlake received the iHeartRadio Innovator Award for his achievements as an entertainer. The former N’SYNC heartthrob, who has earned critical praise and commercial success as a solo artist and an actor, said he wasn’t one of the cool kids growing up.
“They called me different. They called me weird,” he said in accepting the award. “Thankfully my mother taught me that being different was a good thing. That being different meant you could actually make a difference so I wanna thank my mom…”
In his monologue, Foxx also took potshots at the “Blurred Lines” copyright-infringement battle and the health of a famous 1990s record executive. Those jokes found more acceptance than the Jenner quip.
“Marvin Gaye had the number one song, featuring Pharrell (Williams) and Robin Thicke,” Foxx said, setting up for his punch line:
“Marvin Gaye just made $7.4 million just last week. He’s making beats in heaven. It’s crazy,” he joked. “He might be dead, but he ain’t dead broke.”
Gaye’s children had sued Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke over the 2013 hit “Blurred Lines,” which jurors decided borrowed elements from Gaye’s soul classic “Got to Give It Up.” The performers were ordered to pay $7.4 million for copyright damages and infringement.
The crowd laughed again when Foxx turned to Death Row Records founder Marion “Suge” Knight, who has been charged with murder in the hit-and-run death of a man run over by a truck.
“He will not be here tonight,” Foxx said of Knight. “He founded Tha Dogg Pound, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, and now he needs a seeing-eye dog.”
Knight collapsed in court recently, as a result of ongoing health issues, after a judge set his bail at $25 million in the murder case. He hit his head during the fall, knocking himself out.