Piers Morgan unleashed his full fury (kind of) on Ellen DeGeneres Thursday, calling her a “sexist pig” and a “shameless objectifier of male torsos” after the talk show queen jokingly showed off a shirtless photo of actor Chris Hemsworth at the People’s Choice Awards on Wednesday night.
Morgan later said he was “only joking” about DeGeneres’s sexism but that he highlighted the talk show host’s awards show gag to point out the hypocrisy in the ways in which men and women are sexually objectified.
It all started when DeGeneres accepted the evening’s award for “Favorite Humanitarian.” She began her acceptance speech playfully enough:
“This is crazy. I mean, so, so deserved, but this is crazy,” the talk show host joked. “I have to say, it’s a little strange to actually get an award for being nice and generous and kind, which is what we’re all supposed to do with one another. That’s the point of being a human.”
But it was the way DeGeneres wrapped up her speech that had Morgan perplexed.
“You know, here’s the thing, awards are great,” she said shortly before leaving the stage. “But what really makes me happy is making other people happy. And tonight I want to make you happy, so — I’ve brought a shirtless photo of Chris Hemsworth to share!”
The stage screens lit up, and a shirtless photo of the muscular Thor star towered over the proceedings, as the actor himself blushed in the audience.
“Chris Hemsworth has spent his entire adult life working incredibly hard to be a successful thespian,” Morgan began a column for the Daily Mail on Thursday. “He deserves to be treated with respect, not like a slab of tasty meat.”
“Shame on you, Ellen,” he continued. “Shame on the women in the audience who squealed. And shame on any women watching at home who found this hideous spectacle even remotely funny. I can’t think of anything worse than to be humiliated in such a demeaning, public manner.”
Just a few column inches down, Morgan confessed that he was “only joking” and not “remotely offended” by DeGeneres’s gag, and “nor was Chris Hemsworth.” Instead, Morgan used the occasion to highlight what he called the hypocrisy in the way in which women are allowed to get away with public, sexualized advances toward men, while men are often mercilessly castigated in the press and on social media for the same behavior.
Morgan pointed to a recent social media storm that engulfed West Indian cricket star Chris Gayle when he commented on a female reporter’s appearance and asked her out on a date during an interview segment. As Morgan puts it:
Gayle was instantly condemned by the court of social media as a loathsome, inappropriate, perverted and predatory reptile; cricket administrators rushed to castigate him and briefed that they want him banned; and mainstream media began unearthing endless further examples of Gayle’s alleged sexism.
Morgan contrasted Gayle’s experience with female tennis star Maria Sharapova, who fawned over handsome reporter Lachlan Wills during a press conference after a 2014 match, telling him she had forgotten his question because she was “just admiring your form.”
“My objection to all this is the very different way that Ellen DeGeneres and Maria Sharapova were treated after behaviour that is surely just as culpable in the supposed sexism department as Gayle’s?” Morgan continued.
But Morgan wasn’t done piling on just yet:
And on a wider point, it was fascinating and frankly disturbing to see “Gayle-gate” attracting wider attention, comment and news coverage around the world than the appalling incident in Cologne, Germany where over 1000 men of Arab and North African origin sexually assaulted dozens of innocent women on New Year’s Eve.
Particularly as the female Mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, shockingly seemed to put the onus on women to stop these attacks happening again – suggesting a ‘code of conduct’ they should adopt including maintaining an arm’s length distance from strangers.
If a male mayor has said this, all hell would have broken loose, and he’d have probably, and rightly, lost his job.
“It is time for women to either view male humour in the same way they view their own, or to be as indignant with themselves as they are with men when they feel the line gets crossed,” he concluded his column.
Check out the full list of winners from Wednesday night’s People’s Choice Awards here.