Actor-comedian Chris Rock nailed the opening monologue at the 88th Academy Awards with a skillful mix of social commentary and humour about racism in Hollywood, an issue that has dominated debates this awards season.
The “Saturday Night Live” star opened his second Oscars hosting gig with a acknowledgment to the dominance of white nominees, a situation known by the Twitter shorthand #Oscarssowhite.
The Awards began with a pre-taped montage showing highlights from the year’s films, including clips from movies that were snubbed. After, Rock took the stage in a tux with a white jacket and black pants. “Man, I counted at least 15 black people on that montage.
“Well, I am here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People Choice Awards. If they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job,” Rock quipped.
Following the nominations announcement in January, in which all black actors were snubbed for the second year in a row, there were some calls for Rock to step down and join an Oscars boycott in protest.
On why he didn’t boycott the Oscars, Rock said, “This is the wildest, craziest Oscars to ever host. You have all this controversy. I though about quitting, but I realized they’re gonna have the Oscars anyway. The last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart.”
The comedian stayed true to his uncompromising stand-up style throughout the opener, offering up commentary on police violence and skewering the Hollywood elite for choosing not to show up.
For the second year in a row, the Academy failed to nominate any black actor to any of the 20 slots in the four acting categories, prompting Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith and Spike Lee to boycott the ceremony in protest. “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties I wasn’t invited!”
Rock said that other years, black people didn’t protest the Oscars because they were “too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won Best Cinematographer.” “When your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about Best Documentary Foreign Short,” he said.
Despite getting laughs earlier, Rock went on to make people squirm a bit when addressed police violence against black community, “This year at the Oscars, things are gonna be a real different. In this year, in the In Memoriam package, it’s just gonnna be black people who were shot by cops on the way to the movies.” Rock then suggested that what was needed at this point is for the Academy to have black categories.
“Is Hollywood racist? You know, you have to go at that the right way. It is a different type of racist. You are damn right Hollywood’s racist. Hollywood is sorority racist. But things are changing.”
“It is not about boycotting anything. It is about opportunity. We want to get the same opportunities. That’s it. Leo gets great parts every time,” he said while pointing out that Leonardo DiCaprio always gets good roles though Jamie Foxx is also a great performer.
Rock also mocked the #askhermore movement to query women on the red carpet about more than their outfits; the comedian joked that the only reason men are asked more is that their looks are boring.
“If George Clooney showed up with a lime green tux on and a swan coming out his ass, somebody would ask, ‘What’re you wearing, George?’” “Not everything is sexiest. Not everything is racist,” said Rock said, who hosted the 77th Academy Awards back in 2005.