So it has happened. Leo has finally bagged an Academy Award, whoop-de-do. Forgive me for the less than enthusiastic reaction to the win, but I feel something bigger happened yesterday than an actor receiving gratification for a mediocre performance (granted Leo’s speech was about something bigger than himself). Yes, I’m talking about Chris Rock’s witty, incisive, and brutally honest monologue that addressed the huge #OscarsSoWhite elephant in the room. For the unacquainted, this controversy surrounds the lack of diversity among Oscar nominees (for the second time in a row, all 20 actors nominated in lead and supporting roles have been white).
The black comedian spared no time at all in jumping on the issue, opening with “I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards. You realize if they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job. So y’all would be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now”. Like Muhammad Ali in his prime, Rock continuously threw perfectly timed jabs throughout his monologue.
As to the question of why black people didn’t protest a long time ago, he simply said “Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time, you know? We had real things to protest; you know, we’re too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer”.
But perhaps one of the best jabs Rock threw all night was not only targeted at The Academy, but at those who decided to protest by boycotting the Oscars as well (like Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee). “What I’m trying to say is, you know, it’s not about boycotting anything. It’s just, we want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors.”
Equal opportunity. Wouldn’t that be something? Now as much as I love what Chris Rock did in his monologue tonight, I can’t help but acknowledge the fact that he left other minorities in the dark. In the 88 –year history of the Academy Awards, only five Latino actors, three Asian actors and one indigenous actor have won prizes. Evidently we have a long way to go before we truly achieve equal opportunity. Perhaps Ken Jeong will host next year’s Oscars and shake The Academy’s tree again. For now, only time will tell.
Check out the full monologue here:
Here are some celeb reactions to Chris Rock’s monologue. Genuine or just jumping on the hype train? We’ll leave you to decide.
Chris Rock killed the opening monologue. Terrific.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) February 29, 2016
Welp @chrisrock murdered #oscars
— Amy Schumer (@amyschumer) February 29, 2016
. @chrisrock KILLED IT. Cheers! #Oscars2016
— Aisha Tyler (@aishatyler) February 29, 2016
That was really incredible @chrisrock #Oscars
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) February 29, 2016
That monologue was solid. Real talk. @chrisrock #Oscars
— Harry Shum Jr (@HarryShumJr) February 29, 2016