Michelle Yeoh’s acceptance speech when she won the Best Actress Academy Award included a not-so-subtle dig at CNN’s primetime-turned-daytime host, Don Lemon.
In her brief acceptance speech, the 60-year-old Yeoh addressed young Asian kids telling them to dream big then spoke directly to the women who were watching, “And Ladies, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re past your prime.”
The comment was likely made in reference to Don Lemon’s bizarre statement last month criticizing South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s announcement that she was throwing her hat in the ring to run for president in 2024. As part of her pitch, Haley called for mental competency tests for anyone running for office over age 75.
The 57-year-old former primetime host’s response to that was that a woman’s prime is in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. When Lemon’s female cohosts, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins queried him on the strange statement that was clearly referring to repruduction and not mental competency, he said, “that’s just what they say” and “Google it.”
This is truly astonishing. @donlemon says Presidential candidate @NikkiHaley + that all women after 50 are past their prime. When pushed on it, he says to “google it” 🤯 Meanwhile men 80+ are running this country. @CNN pic.twitter.com/OP6YyGuw2S
— Christina Pascucci (@PascucciNews) February 16, 2023
Lemon later issued an apology on Twitter, but never addressed the controversial sexist comment when he returned to the show.
The obnoxious Don Lemon ignored Yeoh’s swipe while co-hosting CNN This Morning on Monday. Instead of addressing the comment, he just ignored it and moved on.
On Monday, CNN This Morning covered the Oscars by focusing on how Everything Everywhere won 7 awards, including the “Best Picture” award. Lead actors Ke Huy Quan and Yeoh both won awards for their respective performances, the latter of whom used her acceptance speech to seemingly bash Lemon over his recent comments about middle-aged women supposedly being “past their prime.”
As Nischelle Turner broke down the fanfare surrounding the film, Lemon decided to move past Yoeh’s dig to say, “this is a huge night for Asian and Asian Americans.”
“The moment that I related to the most,” said Lemon, “is when Ke Huy Quan said my 80-year-old mother is at home watching. He said, ‘Look, Mom! I won an Oscar!’ You can’t help but tear up at that moment and relate to it.”
"Everything Everywhere All At Once" stole the show at the Oscars, winning best picture, best director, best actress, best supporting actor and supporting actress.
@ohheybrittany and @BrentALang join us live: pic.twitter.com/NR2WpPz8dI
— CNN This Morning (@CNNThisMorning) March 13, 2023
Yeoh’s win has been remarked on as being “historic” since she is the first Asian woman to win the Best Actress award.
Media outlets are choosing an odd way of reporting the news — that Michelle Yeoh, who was born in Malaysia, is “the first actress who identifies as Asian” instead of simply as an Asian woman. Both ET Online and NPR framed the news that way.
Michelle Yeoh is rewriting the record books, becoming the first Asian Best Actress winner in the Academy Awards’ 95-year history.
The Malaysian-born star, 60, became the first actress who identifies as Asian to win the Oscar in the Best Actress category for her multilayered performance as Evelyn Wang in the genre-bending film, Everything Everywhere All At Once. This is Yeoh’s first Oscar.
Source: Entertainment Tonight
Conservative radio host and Fox News contributor, Jason Ratz, was just one among many to blast the absurd framing.
Michelle Yeoh was born in Malaysia. This isn’t like NPR identifying as a legitimate news organization. She doesn’t “identify” as Asian. She *is* Asian. https://t.co/KDpBT0hsux
— Jason Rantz on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) March 13, 2023
The contortions to make this a "feel good" first are genuinely hilarious.
•"first actress of Southeast Asian descent" -CBS
•"first person who identifies as Asian" -NPR
•"first Asian star to win best actress" -New York Times https://t.co/4u9SPW5k2m
— MauertheBulldog (@BullyMaus) March 13, 2023
If you "change genders" in adulthood, like Ellen/Elliot Page, entertainment media will retcon all your past credits. Might be a great time for some rando past winner to quickly announce they "identify as Asian" and snatch that "first" from Yeoh. #ProgressiveRules https://t.co/EfmKVw3YOR
— Kira (@RealKiraDavis) March 13, 2023
The NPR article originally explained the reason for the way it was reported.
“The caveat ‘who identifies as Asian’ is necessary because two actresses – nominee Merle Oberon and two-time Oscar winner Vivien Leigh – hid their Asian ancestry and chose to pass as white,” stated the article.
The article has since been updated to remove any reference to the “identifies as Asian” and the context after significant online backlash.
But hey, maybe we could just celebrate a win instead of identity-politics-ing everything to death?
MICHELLE YEOH WINS BEST ACTRESS AT THE #Oscars pic.twitter.com/mUQmwGfur4
— Letterboxd (@letterboxd) March 13, 2023
Meanwhile, Michelle Yeoh winning an Oscar at 60 and taking a jab at a guy three years younger than she is in her speech must really stick in the craw of the guy who is no longer in CNN’s primetime lineup and probably won’t be making a comeback anytime soon since CNN This Morning‘s ratings went up while he was gone.
Don Lemon’s three-day hiatus from “CNN This Morning” resulted in a 5% increase in viewership for the struggling cable news show, which was thrown into turmoil by the co-host’s sexist remarks about GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley last week.
Source: New York Post
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1. Meyer, Ken. “Don Lemon Celebrates Oscar’s ‘Huge Night For Asians’ But Ignores Michelle Yoeh’s Apparent Acceptance Speech Jab.” Mediaite. March 13, 2023. https://www.mediaite.com/tv/don-lemon-celebrates-oscars-huge-night-for-asians-but-ignores-michelle-yoehs-apparent-acceptance-speech-jab/
2. Ng, Philiana. “Michelle Yeoh Makes History as First Asian to Win Best Actress Oscar.” Entertainment Tonight. March 12, 2023. https://www.etonline.com/michelle-yeoh-makes-history-as-first-asian-to-win-best-actress-oscar-200255
3. Ziber, Ariel. “‘CNN This Morning’ ratings rose 5 percent during Don Lemon’s absence.” New York Post. February 23, 2023. https://nypost.com/2023/02/23/cnn-this-morning-ratings-rose-5-during-don-lemon-hiatus/