How did Chris Rock handle the #OscarsSoWhite controversy? By tackling it head-on in his opening monologue.
The comedian started off by joking that he was hosting the “White People’s Choice Awards,” adding, “You realize that if they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job. Y’all’d be watching Neil Patrick Harris now.”
Many called for Rock to quit the hosting gig when the Academy didn’t nominate any black actors. Chris explained, “I thought about quitting, I thought about it real hard. But I realized they’re gonna have the Oscars anyway. They’re not gonna cancel the Oscars because I quit. You know, and the last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart.”
He went on to ask why it was so important to protest this year. “It’s the 88th Academy Awards. The 88th Academy Awards. Which means this whole no-black-nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times. Okay, you gotta figure that it happened in the ‘50s, in the ‘60s. You know, in the ‘60s, one of those years Sidney [Poitier] didn’t put out a movie. I’m sure there were no black nominees those years.”
He continued, “Say ‘62, ‘63. And black people did not protest. Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time. You know. We had real things to protest. We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won for best cinematographer.”
Rock then chided Jada Pinkett Smith,who was one of the first to say she would boycott the show. “Jada said she’s not coming. She’s protesting. Isn’t she on a TV show? Jada’s gonna boycott the Oscars. Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited. Though that’s not an invitation I would turn down.”
He insisted, “I’m not hating. I understand you’re mad. Jada’s mad. Her man Will’s not nominated for ‘Concussion.’ I get it. I get it. You get mad. You say it’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. You’re right. It’s also not fair that Will got paid $20 million for ‘Wild Wild West.’”
Later, Chris got more serious on the topic, pointing out that actors like Leonardo DiCaprio are offered a great role every year. He added, “We want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors — that’s it.”