Cher lashes out at Wendy Williams for mocking Joaquin Phoenix's cleft lip
Earlier this week, American television host Wendy Williams left her viewers furious after describing Joker star Joaquin Phoenix as "oddly attractive" and using her finger to lift her upper lip in order to simulate the star's cleft lip.
For those that don't know, one of Phoenix's most distinctive facial features is a scar on his upper lip. This is the result of Phoenix being born with a microform cleft, the mildest form of cleft lip. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Phoenix revealed was simply born with the mark, and never underwent surgery.
Watch the controversial moment below:
The moment occurred on The Wendy Williams Show during the 'Hot Topics' segment. Williams, 55, was discussing singer Beyoncé's refusal to stand for Phoenix as the actor received a standing ovation during his win at the 2020 Golden Globes.
Viewers were left furious by Williams' gesture, and many took to Twitter to express their outrage.
Twitter user Matt Groark wrote: "For a solid 10 seconds she used her finger to mimic a cleft lip while the audience laughed. Imagine how my 5 year old would take it if he saw it?"
And mom Adriane wrote: "@WendyWilliams my daughter was born with a CLEFTLIP I pray daily that she is able to grow up knowing how beautiful god made her without having to hear comments from uneducated people like you I [pray you] educate yourself and make an apology to the people you hurt"
One viewer even set up a Change.org online petition calling for Williams to be fired from her role - a petition that has since been signed by over 48,000 people (as of this writing).
Now, legendary singer Cher has hit out at the US television host. In a series of Tweets, Cher posted to her 3.8 million followers:
"@WendyWilliams I Was Going To Try & Hold My TemperBUT IM SO F-NG ANGRY I CANT. In 1985 I Made a Film Called 'MASK' THROUGH THAT FILM I BECAME INVOLVED WITH CHILDREN,& ADULTS WHO HAD CRANIOFACIAL ANOMALIES. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THESE PPL GO THROUGH 20+ OPERATIONS [...]
"BEFORE THEIR TEENS [...] MUCH OF THE TIME THEY ARE IN PAIN, AFRAID, BUT HAVE HOPE THEY WILL LOOK NORMAL. THE& FEAR THEIR PARENTS GO THROUGH IS UNBEARABLE. IF YOUR MOM SAW WHAT YOU DID SHE’D BE ASHAMED. MY MOM TAUGHT ME TO LOVE & HELP PPL IN PAIN. WHO ARE UU SHOULD B FIRED [sic]"
Williams later issued an apology via her Twitter account, and urged her viewers to educate themselves more about the "cleft community". She also promised to make a donation to Operation Smile and the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association to help families dealing with the condition.
Her apology came after Canadian football player Adam Bighill (Twitter handle @Bighill44) also criticized the host for her comments and actions. Taking to Twitter, Bighill - whose son, Beau, was born with a cleft palate - wrote:
"This is @WendyWilliams making fun of the cleft community on her TV show.
"Are you kidding me??? We all have a responsibility to #EndBullying With her platform, like myself, we have a much higher responsibility when it comes to our actions. This is just terrible."
The 55-year-old host wrote to her 1.5 million Twitter followers: "@Bighill44 We’re thinking about Beau today as he is in surgery. I want to apologize to the cleft community and in Beau’s honor, our show is donating to @operationsmil and @AmerCleftPalate and encourage our Wendy Watchers to learn more and help support the cleft community."
However, Cher clearly doesn't think Williams' apology is good enough, continuing to bash the host on Twitter:
"APOLOGIZED THERE IS NO APOLOGY FOR WHAT SHE DID…. & LAUGHED ABOUT I KNOW THESE CHILDREN,& ADULTS. THEY GO THROUGH HELL, THEIR PARENTS GO THROUGH HELL Fk Her Apology. SHE WANTS TO KEEP HER JOBI CANT CONTAIN MY ANGER [sic]
"THESE ARE THE PPL @WendyWilliams IS MAKING FUN OF. Joaquin Phoenix was a Child,& We Dont Know What He Had To Go Through. HE IS ONE OF THE GREAT ACTORS OF OUR TIME, MAGNETIC, & MORE THAN HANDSOME SHE WILL BE JUDGED FOR THIS FOREVER [sic]"
Phoenix is yet to respond to the controversy.