One of the biggest questions going into Oscar night was how host Chris Rock would handle one of the major controversies surrounding the awards: the lack of diversity in the industry, highlighted by the fact that this year’s Oscars marks the second-straight year that the actor categories included only white nominees.
Well, Rock took it head-on, and in the process delivered one of the best opening monologues in Academy Awards history.
“I counted at least 15 black people on that montage,” said Rock as he came on the stage, referring to the footage of this year’s big movies.
He followed that by welcoming everyone to the 88th Academy Awards, “also known as the white people’s choice awards,” Rock said.
Rock said he thought about quitting the hosting gig, but figured the show wouldn’t be canceled because of him, and he wasn’t going to “lose another job to Kevin Hart.”
But then with a great mix of comedy and sobering reality that defines his best stand-up, Rock touched on that fact that this is not the first year the Oscars had a lack of diversity. But in the past, say the 1960s, black people had bigger issues to deal with than complaining about getting an Oscar nomination, like being “raped and lynched,” Rock said.
“When your grandmother is swinging from a tree, you’re not worried about who wins best short film,” the host said in one of his boldest lines.
Rock then got into the people who decided to boycott this year’s Oscars, like Spike Lee, Al Sharpton, and Jada Pinkett Smith.
He then delivered his best joke of the opening.
“Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties: I wasn’t invited,” Rock said.
The comedian then brought it home with the question: Is Hollywood racist? He said that Hollywood is not “burning-crosses racist,” but that it’s like being in a sorority and the black people are told, “We like you, but you’re not a Kappa.”
“Black people want the same opportunities, and that’s it,” he added. “Leo gets great parts every year, but what about the black actors?
“Jamie Foxx was so good in ‘Ray’ they went to the hospital and unplugged the real Ray Charles because we can’t have two of the same guy,” Rock joked.
It certainly seems Rock isn’t going to be shy in addressing the elephant in the room, and his opening will not be forgotten anytime soon.
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