In a year where diversity is the perhaps the biggest story, no one had more pressure to come out strongly than host Chris Rock, who emceed once before in 2005.
As many expected, Rock did not shy away from the diversity issue, addressing it head on as soon as he came onstage. “I counted at least 15 black people in that montage,” Rock said, referring to a brief video highlight reel of some of 2015’s most popular films.
Rock then referred to the Oscars as the “White People’s Choice Awards.”
The host did not separate himself from the controversy, either. “If they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job. You’d be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now!” Rock quipped, referring to last year’s host. Rock went on to say, “The last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart.” Hart, himself in attendance, burst into laughter.
Commenting on why this year, in particular, caused such a stir at the Academy, Rock cited the earlier years that undoubtedly featured not-so-diverse nominations. “[Black people] had real things to protest at the time. We were too busy being raped and lynched to worry about best cinematographer,” Rock said in regards to Oscar ceremonies of the 1950s and ’60s.
It wasn’t just the Academy that received the brunt of Rock’s wit. The comedian also called out famous actors and directors who were boycotting this year’s event, such as Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock compared Smith boycotting the Oscars to himself boycotting Rihanna’s panties. “I’m not invited,” he quipped.
He also took aim at Pinkett Smith’s husband, actor Will Smith, who many felt was snubbed for his performance in Concussion this year. “It’s not fair that Will was not nominated,” Rock said. “It’s also not fair that he got $20 million for Wild Wild West!”
While the bulk of his monologue was focused on the diversity issue, Rock also commented on gender issues, in particular the #AskHerMore campaign. He argued that men aren’t often asked about their outfits because “they’re all wearing the same thing.” He continued, “If George Clooney showed up wearing a lime green tux on, and a swan coming out of his ass, somebody would go, “Whatcha wearin’, George?’ ”
Credit: The Hollywood Reporter