After the 2015 Miss Universe disaster where Steve Harvey erroneously crowned Miss Colombia? who? the winner of the pageant when Miss Philippines Pia Wurtzbach was actually the winner, we assumed that Harvey would try to be on his best behavior from now on. But of course, Steve Harvey being Steve Harvey, he couldn’t play it straight for too long. And, once again, he’s embroiled himself in another controversy–again, involving Miss Colombia.
From the get-go, Harvey started off his hosting gig awkwardly, immediately addressing his 2015 headline-making mix-up. He then proceeded to make an off-color joke about the fiasco. “Colombia’s gotten over that. They’ve forgiven me,” he quipped. “Well, not all of them. The cartel’s still tripping a little bit”.
As if this opening joke weren’t offensive enough, Harvey continued to rag on Colombia when announcing that Miss Colombia Gabriela Tafur had qualified for the Top 20.
After being announced, Tafur approached Steve Harvey, joking with him a little about his his famous absentmindedness. “Yes, I’m here,” she joked. “Are you sure you read correctly? Should I go back?”.
Harvey admitted to Tafur that he was “struggling” with his hosting duties, to which Tafur replied, “You’re forgiven”. Sensing an opportunity to shoe-horn in another narco joke, Harvey said: “You’ve forgiven me, not the cartel…They’re not handling it the same way.”
Tafur, although she looked as if she were trying to be a good sport and smile it off, appeared to become a bit more frozen after he cracked the joke. It also should be noted that the audience didn’t seem to respond well to the joke–there was little laughter to be heard coming from the crowd.
The backlash to Harvey’s joke was swift, with Colombians accusing the comedian of perpetuating negative stereotypes about their beloved South American country.
The truth is, pageantry is an important aspect of many Latino cultures–especially ones in South America. Part of the reason that many of these women join pageants is to be a positive representation of their country for the rest of the world.
There is even a “National Costume Show” portion of the competition where contestants dress up in outfits that illustrate an authentic aspect of the culture of their home country. No country is perfect and the pageant isn’t meant shouldn’t be turned into a platform to single out a country and bring attention to its flaws.
Miss Colombia, for her part, took to Twitter herself to drag Harvey for his offensive joke.
Although many people still associate Colombia drugs, gangs, and violence, its murder rate has fallen to 25% in the last 25 years. In 2016, the Colombian government and the guerrilla Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia signed a peace treaty with the goal of putting an end to a violent civil war that has last 52 years. The treaty included switch illegal crops like coca with alternatives, hopefully minimizing opportunity for drug traffickers. Since then, Colombia’s homicide rate has dropped to an all-time low.
Not only was the audience unimpressed with Harvey’s inappropriate joke, but Twitter was too.
It’s one thing to slip up once, make an inappropriate joke, and then stop after you’ve learned the error of your ways. Harvey continued to make Colombia the butt of his jokes and he crossed the line.
This person made a point to call out Steve Harvey for trying to embarrass Colombia on a worldwide stage.
Miss Colombia is chosen to be a representative about the best parts of her country. Tafur has nothing to do with cartels.
This person explained how Harvey’s “joke” was disrespectful to actual victims and survivors of cartel violence.
Believe it or not, cartel violence is an epidemic in Colombia. We guarantee that if Harvey experience the violence in person, he wouldn’t be making light of the situation on international TV.
In an event as globally inclusive as Miss Universe, it’s imperative to recognize that no country is perfect.
Colombians are tired of being thought of as narcos and drug addicts in the eyes of the world.
This Twitter user was full of kind words for a woman who handled an uncomfortable situation with such grace
I like how @IAmSteveHarvey makes a joke about the cartel to #MissColombia and then cut to her package and she’s like “I’m a lawyer and have been fighting violence in my country.” Get it girl. And Steve, sit down man. #MissUniverse
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