By Elan Gardner

I sympathize with this year’s Oscar nominees. Jimmy Kimmel butchered so many names at the ceremony, I could’ve played a drinking game.

This year’s Oscars host was Jimmy Kimmel. Aside from being a traditional comedic host, Kimmel made a series of insensitive comments that devalued people’s names.

First, he started the night off by completely butchering Mahershala Ali’s name, while fully being aware that he was not pronouncing it correctly.

Admittedly Mahershala is a hard name to spell let alone pronounce but at such an important event, Kimmel should have practised the pronunciation.

The lack of practice took away from Ali’s moment.

Mahershala Ali is the first Muslim to win an Oscar and his historic moment was downplayed by Jimmy Kimmel making a joke of his beautiful, cultural name.

Not sure if Kimmel realizes, but his inability and lack of effort to correctly pronounce names did not make people laugh at him, but rather laugh in discomfort and awkwardness.

Maybe he is simply envious that he does not have a unique name. You cannot throw a stone five meters from where you stand without hitting a “James.” Instead of treating the name “Mahershala” with respect, he chose to make a joke of it, not realizing that in turn, he was also disrespecting the person.

This is insensitive.

I have a difficult name to pronounce. The first day of school during attendance, I would wait for the teacher to either butcher my name or for a lengthy pause. To this day, I answer to mispronunciations all the time simply because it is tiring to constantly correct people.

Before this year’s Oscars, I rarely attributed mispronunciation as rude. But Kimmel delivered his ‘jokes’ rudely.

Like Ali’s daughter name situation.

Ali recently welcomed his daughter into the world. Kimmel brought this up, but not in a congratulatory way. Instead to say the baby’s name couldn’t be “Amy”. Again, downplaying any cultural name Ali may have given his daughter.

Kimmel did not have any issues with Meryl Streep’s or Vince Vaughan’s name. He was pointing out the difference between specific names.

Kimmel made it clear Ali is the ‘other’.
The Oscars are a dream for aspiring actors.

Deliberately mispronouncing someone’s name for ‘comedic’ reasons is a very poor representation of this event! No wonder so many people with beautiful cultural names choose to change their name when they enter the Western culture.

“Comedic” in quotations since any good comedian knows that when making jokes about race, culture, religion or colour, the comedian should speak about themselves with these topics instead of speaking directly about the topic.

Kimmel could have said, ‘wow, I’m really awful at pronouncing names because most people I know and speak to have unvaried and monotonous names.’ However, he spoke directly on the topic, making an attack instead of a joke.

It is difficult to be offended by a joke when the Comedian is part of the joke.

Guess we can’t hand out “comedian” titles to every Jimmy out there.

It’s upsetting to see that Ali’s moment was taken by Kimmel’s issue with his name. He was the first Muslim to win an Oscar and instead of me writing about that huge accomplishment, I feel the responsibility to first squash the ignorance I saw on Oscars night. In order to celebrate diversity, we have to be rid of ignorance.

One step forward, two steps back.

Last year at the Oscars, there was an issue of no minorities being nominated. This year, there were Oscar winners like Hidden Figures, Moonlight, Viola Davies and Mahershala Ali.

Ali was not the only person Kimmel had a problem with.

Yulerie, a woman of Asian descent who was brought into the show on a tour bus, is another name Kimmel mocked saying it “wasn’t” really a name.

While introducing herself, Yulerie aligns her name with jewellery to help him pronounce her name. Instead of putting in the effort to pronounce it correctly, even after she helps him out, he proceeds to mock it.

Adding salt to the wound, Kimmel acknowledges her fiancé, a white man named Patrick and says, “Now that’s a name”.

To my understanding, Yulerie, Jimmy, Asafa and Erica are all names.

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