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Did Billy Crystal cross the line at the Oscars?

If you're looking for a place to begin talking about Billy Crystal's inappropriate gags as Oscar host, you could start with his fat joke.

Looking at Jonah Hill, who has lost a lot of weight since his performance in Moneyball, he sang: "It's great you shed weight. But I think you should know, there's cupcakes after the show."

Seriously? Yes, apparently Mr. Crystal thought such a decidedly low blow was both appropriate and funny.

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When the camera went to Mr. Hill, who was seated with his mother and nominated in the best supporting actor category, he did not look amused. Who would be?

More importantly, how could Mr. Crystal think that in today's day and age it would be okay to mock a person for losing weight, which is hard for anyone and likely more so for someone in the public eye.

But then, Mr. Crystal has clearly lost touch with today's standards. Most of his jokes seemed like the sort of Borscht belt shtick that amused audiences generations ago.

Consider, for instance, his many racial jokes, which to many people were much more offensive than his crack at Mr. Hill.

In the show's opening montage, Mr. Crystal appeared in blackface as Sammy Davis Jr. It might have been funny when he played that role on Saturday Night Live oh so many years ago, but hundreds of people criticized him on Twitter.

Comedian Paul Scheer offered the best criticism from the Twitterverse. When Octavia Spencer won the best supporting actress award for The Help, Scheer tweeted that her win "shows just how far we've come since Billy Crystal performed in blackface."

Mr. Crystal couldn't help weighing in with another racial joke after her win. "I loved that movie [ The Help]… when I saw it, I wanted to hug the first black woman that I saw. Which from Beverly Hills is about a 45-minute drive."

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One person on Twitter called the joke "terribly racist," while another said it was "both offensive and prejudiced."

But others found Mr. Crystal's ba-dum-bum humour funny. One Twitter user wrote, "Billy Crystal in blackface. Night: MADE."

What do you think? Did Billy Crystal cross the line?

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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