×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Joan Rivers: Her Final Controversy

Recent Palestinian comments spur #karma trend on Twitter

With her razor-sharp wit, Joan Rivers managed to offend just about everyone at one point or another. But her final month was marked by one of the biggest controversies of her career, magnified by social media.

While numerous comedians such as Sarah Silverman and Roseanne Barr shared their grief over her death, an online outpouring from members of the public revolved around another idea: karma. After she fell into unconsciousness on Aug. 28, thousands of people tweeted that she deserved her illness because of her controversial remarks on Palestine last month. “Karma at work there. Without a doubt,” one person tweeted after her death. The hashtag #karma saw a large spike on Twitter for a brief period Thursday.

In August, Rivers was at the center of an Internet backlash when TMZ posted a video of her commenting on the Gaza conflict in which she said that because the Palestinians voted for Hamas, they were getting what they deserved. While Rivers never apologized for her remarks — fellow edgy comedian Anthony Jeselnik tweeted that she once told him “she would die before she’d ever apologize for a joke” — she did offer a clarification on her Facebook page.

SEE ALSO: Joan Rivers, Comedy and TV Pioneer, Dies at 81

“I am both saddened and disappointed that my statement about the tragedy of civilian casualties was totally taken out of context,” the post said. “What I said and stand behind is, war is hell and unfortunately civilians are victims of political conflicts. We, The United States, certainly know this as 69 years later we still feel the guilt of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The media, as usual, has decided to only quote the most out of context and inflammatory non sequitur rather than giving an accurate account of what my intentions were behind the statement. Along with every other sane person in this world, I am praying for peace. It is stupid and wrong and I am tired of bearing the brunt of attacks by people who want to sell newspapers or gain ratings by creating a scandal about me that is non-existent.”

Though her comments in the TMZ video shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with her trash-talking style, the Internet, and Palestinian supporters in particular, seemed to think that her remarks crossed a line and couldn’t be excused as an attempt at humor.

SEE ALSO: Joan Rivers Paved the Way for Raunchy Female Comedians

In 2013, she also fielded controversy when she said of German supermodel Heidi Klum that “the last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens.” She defended the joke to CNN, saying “It’s a joke, No. 1. No. 2, it is about the Holocaust. This is the way I remind people about the Holocaust. I do it through humor.”

But Rivers did not seem overly concerned about what the public thought. She spoke her mind and was a master of keeping herself relevant  — even if it meant she was the punchline, as she often was in say, actor-comedian Ralph Garman’s rants about her during the “Kevin and Bean” morning show on Los Angeles radio station KROQ.

“I never saw someone attack a stage with so much energy,” Louie C.K. said in his statement about her. “She was a controlled lightning bolt. She was a prolific and unpredictable, joyful joke writer.”

More TV

  • Bill Murray

    Bill Murray to Star in Peter Farrelly Comedy Series at Quibi

    Bill Murray is the latest name to stop in for a quick bite at Quibi. The veteran “Ghostbusters” and “Groundhog Day” star will play a recurring role opposite Dave Franco in “The Now,” a comedy series which hails from “Green Book” director Peter Farrelly. “The Now” centers on Ed Poole (Franco), who is about to [...]

  • Live+3 Ratings for Week of Nov.

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of Nov. 4: 'The Little Mermaid Live' Surfaces in First Place

    After posting big numbers in the Live+Same Day TV ratings, ABC’s “The Little Mermaid Live” has emerged at the top of the charts for the week it aired after three days of delayed viewing. The live musical, which featured Auliʻi Cravalho in the titular role and a powerhouse performance from Queen Latifah as the evil [...]

  • Liz Astrof to Develop Comedy Series

    Liz Astrof to Develop Comedy Series 'Pivoting' at Fox

    Liz Astrof is set to write and executive produce the single-camera comedy “Pivoting” at Fox, Variety has learned. The series is set in a small, middle-class town in Long Island. It follows three close-knit childhood friends, after the death of another. During the grieving period, when psychologists advise not to make any big decisions, the three [...]

  • Christmas Town Hallmark

    How Hallmark Built a 'Brand Experience' Around 'Countdown to Christmas'

    A decade into Hallmark’s “Countdown to Christmas” initiative, the demand for original programming is higher than ever, with more holiday-themed projects across platforms. But for Hallmark, the only true competition comes from within. “We push ourselves every year to do even more — and ‘more’ may not mean volume, but to make high-quality stories, to [...]

  • Clive Owen Bill Clinton

    'Impeachment: American Crime Story' Casts Clive Owen as Bill Clinton

    Clive Owen has been cast as President Bill Clinton in the upcoming third season of “American Crime Story” at FX, Variety has confirmed. The season will focus on Clinton’s impeachment and the Monica Lewinsky scandal. It was previously announced that Beanie Feldstein will star as Lewinsky, with Sarah Paulson as Linda Tripp and Annaleigh Ashford as [...]

  • 'The Intouchables' Helmers to Direct French

    'The Intouchables' Helmers to Direct French TV Adaptation of 'In Treatment'

    “The Intouchables” directors Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, whose latest film, “The Specials,” played on closing night at Cannes, are set to make their TV debut with a French adaptation of the hit Israeli series “BeTipul” (“In Treatment).” Commissioned by the Franco-German network Arte, the French makeover, “En Therapie,” will be directed by Toledano, Nakache, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content