Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Joan Rivers under fire for ‘racist’ remarks about Justin Bieber’s fashion sense

Justin Beiber

YouTube screen grab from Fashion Police segment

Look out, Joan Rivers: One of the Village People is not happy with you.

As reported by, Village People original Victor Willis (he was the brawny traffic cop in the disco group) has taken the 81-year-old comedienne to task for allegedly using "racist" comments in reference to the Biebs.

To rewind the story, let's revisit last weekend's edition of the popular E! series Fashion Police, where Rivers regularly holds court on the panel dispensing yays or nays on modern celebrity style.

Story continues below advertisement

On this occasion, Rivers weighed in on a photograph of the 20-year-old Bieber wearing an Alexander McQueen sweater and baggy black leather pants (with matching leather skirt), black hat, oversized gold chain and gleaming white shoes for a trip, apparently, to the supermarket.

Said Rivers: "That little [expletive] just gets on my nerves." Rivers then turned toward the camera and, presumably addressing Bieber himself, threw in, "You are not a big black thug, you are just like your shoes – ordinary and completely white."

At the time, Rivers' one-liner earned a huge laugh from the studio audience and her fellow panelists, including Kelly Osbourne and Giuliana Rancic. But the 63-year-old Willis, who must have been watching from home, was not amused.

Shortly after, Willis went onto his Twitter account (@victorwillis) to decry Rivers comments, tweeting, "What Joan Rivers said is no laughing matter. It's Racist and she has a history of this. Time to shut her down. What say you?"

Willis reiterated his disdain on his official Facebook page and posted a link to the incident on the watchdog site GossipCop ("Busting bad dish!").

This is not the first time Rivers' judgment has come under fire. She once made a joke referring to U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama as "Blackie O" and, even more egregiously, used the "N-word" during her appearance on HuffPost Live as part of an attempt to illustrate that "the world is so PC it's stupid."

Defenders argue that Rivers is a comic by trade and her job – for the past half-century or so – requires her to skewer every available topic at any given opportunity, with no regard for political correctness.

Story continues below advertisement

Remember Rivers' response last fall when a TMZ cameraman asked for her reaction to Alec Baldwin getting fired from MSNBC for allegedly levelling a homophobic slur toward a photographer?

The only printable quote from the Rivers' rant: "Everybody just relax."

Report an error Licensing Options

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at