The #OscarsSoWhite issue has had Hollywood engulfed in its flames since the all-white nominees were announced for the 88th Academy Awards this year. It seems that to compensate, the Academy invited Chris Rock to be the presenter of the Oscars this year. Rock appropriately tackled the diversity issue with elan, drawing attention to the needless and the serious elements of the protests that have rocked the filmmaking community, all the while drawing many laughs. He also inserted black actors into Oscar-nominated movies in the opening montage. Whoopi Goldberg appeared in “Joy,” Leslie Jones in “The Revenant” and Rock himself in “The Martian.”
Dubbing the Oscars ceremony “White People’s Choice Awards,” comedian Chris Rock criticised the racism inherent to Hollywood. However, he implied that boycotting is silly and won’t be ultimately constructive as there are far serious things happening around the world than the Oscars. Rock had previously called The Oscars “The White BET Awards” on Twitter.
“Now the thing is, what are we protesting — the big question: Why this Oscars? Why this Oscars, you know? It’s the 88th Academy Awards. Which means this whole “no black nominees” thing has happened at least 71 other times, OK? You gotta figure that it happened in the ’50s, in the ’60s — you know like one of those years Sidney [Poitier] didn’t put out a movie. I’m sure there were no black nominees some of those years. Say ’65, ’62 or ’63 — and black people did not protest! Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time. We had real things to protest. 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!” said Rock, to the applause of the audience.
The Oscars has been embroiled in a contentious issue about lack of racial diversity among its nominees, simply known as #OscarsSoWhite. Famous black directors Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay, and actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith were among those who did not attend the Academy Awards ceremony this year.
“Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited! Oh, that’s not an invitation I would turn down!” hit back Chris Rock.
He brought attention to the far more contentious issue of black people being killed by cops. “This year, in the In Memoriam package, it’s just gonna be black people that were shot by the cops on their way to the movies! Yes! Yes! I said it, all right?” Rock exclaimed.
He gave a hilarious solution that underscored not only Hollywood’s racism, but inherent sexism as well. “If you want black nominees every year, you need to just have black categories.” He added “There’s no real reason for there to be a man and a woman category in acting!
“Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, ‘We like you Ronda, but you’re not a Kappa.’ That’s how Hollywood is,” he said.
Rock said that black people need more opportunity. “We want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors. That’s it.”