Chris Rock at the Oscars: Hollywood is ‘a different type of racist’

Chris Rock pulls no punches, Stacey Dash has an awkward moment and a company confuses Whoopi Goldberg for Oprah Winfrey.

By Sheryl Estrada

Chris-Rock-Oscars

Chris Rock at the 88th Annual Academy Awards

In his opening monologue at the 88th Annual Academy Awards Sunday night, host Chris Rock used his comedic style of humor mixed with brutal honesty to address the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, while wearing a white tuxedo jacket.

For the second consecutive year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated exclusively white actors for all four acting categories. Rock said he thought about quitting the Oscars. But then realized the show would go on without him, joking that he’d lose another job to comedian Kevin Hart.

Instead, he took the opportunity to explain why on the 88th year of the awards show people are outraged by the lack of diversity, which is nothing new.

“Now the thing is, why are we protesting?” Rock said. “The big question: Why this Oscars? Why this Oscars, you know?”

Rock’s explanation focused exclusively on the experience of Blacks in America facing racism in the 1950s and 60s with jokes that visibly make people uncomfortable.

“We had real things to protest at the time, you know?” he said. “We 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 then pulled no punches when addressing racism in Hollywood.

“Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right Hollywood is racist. But it ain’t that racist that you’ve grown accustomed to.”

 Rock said the industry isn’t “burning-cross racist” or “fetch-me-some-lemonade racist.”

He said it’s a different type of racist — “sorority racist.”

“We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa,” he said. “That’s how Hollywood is. But things are changing. Things are changing.”

Rock shared that before taking a photo with President Obama during a fundraiser at the White House with showbiz guests, he mentioned to him a reason why there’s a lack of diversity in Hollywood:

 “I’m like, ‘Mr. President, you see all these writers and producers and actors? They don’t hire Black people, and they’re the nicest white people on earth! They’re liberals! Cheese!’”

 Rock expressed his disapproval of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s boycott of the Oscars.

“You get mad that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated [for his role in ‘Concussion’],” he said. “It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million to do ‘Wild Wild West.’”

Rock also touched upon the national controversy of the recent police-related deaths of unarmed African Americans:

“Things are going to be a little different at the Oscars. This year, in the In Memoriam package, it’s just going to be Black people that were shot by the cops on their way to the movies. Yes, yes. I said it. Alright?”

He said opportunity is key, “We want opportunity — give Black actors the same opportunities as white actors. That’s it. Leo gets a great part every year. What about Jamie Foxx?”

During the awards about one-third of the presenters and performers were people of color.

(Complete List of 2016 Oscar Winners​)

Watch a clip of Rock’s monologue:

Diversity, Inclusiveness and the Academy

 As a result of backlash and boycotts, the Academy announced in January a vague plan stating it would “double” its “diversity,” without releasing the demographics of the people who vote for the Oscars.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy, took the stage Sunday night to emphasize that diversity and inclusiveness will be a high priority.

“Our audiences are global and rich in diversity,” she said, “and every facet of our industry should be as well.”

She continued, “The Academy Board of Governors recently took concrete action and sent a message that inclusion only serves to make us all stronger. It’s important that the members of the Academy and everyone in this room help deliver that message. Each of you is an ambassador who can influence others in the industry. It’s not enough to just listen and agree. We must take action.”

Isaacs then quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Stacey Dash’s Awkward Moment

Shortly after his monologue, Rock introduced actress Stacey Dash, a Fox News commentator, as the “new director” of the Academy’s “minority outreach program.”

“I cannot wait to help my people out,” Dash said. “Happy Black History Month!”

View a clip:

The joke was to address the recent controversy over the “Clueless” star’s condemnation of Black History Month.

The audience was confused and the joke fell flat.

Celebrities commented on Twitter:

 

Total Beauty’s Social Media Fail

Ironically, in an Oscar season of controversy over diversity, Total Beauty, a website that offers fashion and beauty advice, confused actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg with media mogul Oprah Winfrey in a tweet. “We had no idea @Oprah was #tatted, and we love it. #oscars”

But Goldberg was in the photo, not Winfrey. TotalBeautyTweet

After being roasted on social media, the company issued an apology tweet:

Gayle King, co-anchor of “CBS This Morning,” editor-at-large for O (the Oprah Magazine) and Winfrey’s bestie, posted the following response on her Instagram account:

“gayleking: @Oprah & favorite daughter watching #Oscars & seeing @totalbeauty snafu! We all love @whoopigoldberg but we don’t all look alike Jeeeze!”

GayleKingInstagram

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10 comments


  • I thought Chris’ monologue was excellent. I have friends that can’t stand him, but I think it’s because they don’t open their minds enough to truly understand that he’s not “joking”…he’s shedding light. I think his “jokes” were thought provoking and made people uncomfortable…as was their intent. As Chris stated, we (as Black people) have other things to protest and be concerned about…rather than if we were nominated for a statue.

  • Nadida Amatullah-Matin

    OK, that was awkward to say the least. I get the monologue, somewhat. The Stacy Dash appearance fell short and simply wasn’t funny. Ms. Dash is a poor example and representation of our Black race. It would have been better served had the message been made by someone, who the public could have taken seriously. Now, if this was meant to be funny; it still didn’t fly. If this was meant to inform the public that the academy was taking the boycott seriously; then using someone so far removed, still speaks to their unwillingness to self-check. I wonder what the ratings were. Personally, I don’t watch the show because we don’t go to the movies enough to care about which overpaid actor takes home the little gold statue. Mr. Rock – truth be told we are still worrying about our grandmothers and children being raped and murdered. So nothing has changed in the 88 years of the Oscar’s. I’m just saying.

    • Chris Rock “pulled no punches when addressing racism in Hollywood”, and then segued into a little humorous Hollywood racism of his own.

      The three little Asian kids (one had a Jewish surname; that makes it even funnier) were “PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants”! Get it? Asian kids are hard-working and good at math!! And the Asian don’t often complain when exploited, or discriminated against, Hell, they’ll even exploit each other, like in child labor: “If anybody’s upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids.”

      What an ass.

  • Do they not see the typo in the following: “For the second consecutive year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated exclusively nonwhite actors for all four acting categories.” They didn’t nominate nonwhite actors, they only nominated white actors. Please fix.

  • I don’t watch the superficial Oscars, but there should have been some black actors nominated. I don’t like Chris Rock, but he “rocked” with the jokes. I actually laughed at a Chris Rock joke (he’s about as non-funny as Arsenio).

  • Greg Thrasher

    Rock was terrible and out of his element given the circumstances . He was not a good advocate for the Protest . Rock belittled Will and Jada Smith while never once mentioning the name of a White Studio Executive!

    It was a Protest of Hollywood not one Black person should have been present at the AA. Horrific execution of a Protest !

  • I did not watch the Oscars and won’t. It’s an easy boycott. I read Rock’s monologue and I wondered would a Jewish person ever joke about the Holocaust at a major public event? Probably not. I don’t think the history of lynching is the material of jokes. And the history was wrong. Also, the issue is not whether a wealthy black person like Jada Smith get’s an award, the issue is inclusion. To value black lives (AKA black lives matter), we have to include black lives. And yes that means everyone else should also be included. Although, in many ways, black lives are the least valued. I think Chris Rock was trying to expose the issues, and that he did.

    • Greg Thrasher

      He was horrible and he turned out to be very ineffective and out of his element.

      The issue of images and propaganda is to crucial to have a 3rd rate persona like Rock be the fact of this protest in Hollywood?

      It was a impotent and truly bad implementation of strategy!

      Peace

      Greg Thrasher
      Director
      Plane Ideas
      Alternative Think Tank
      DC

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