Ever since the #OscarsSoWhite controversy broke out following this year’s Academy Award nominations, all eyes have been on one man, host Chris Rock. While some have called for him to step down as a show of support for the call for more diversity in the Oscars the comedian and actor has decided that he will stay on board to host the ceremony. This is probably as dangerous a move for the Academy as it is the host. Chris Rock is known for speaking his mind on stage, and he certainly will have an opinion on this topic. Doesn’t the Academy realize he’s probably going to rip them apart? It turns out they do, and they don’t have a problem with it.
If there was any fear, or expectation, that the Academy was going to try and tone down whatever Chris Rock plans to say and do on stage, we can apparently forget it. Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs recently told The Hollywood Reporter that not only does she fully expect the host to go after the Academy, she actually wants him to do it.
Well, we've always known he was gonna go there, right? This is Chris. We know who he is. … He is a brilliant, brilliant, observant comedian and performer, and he is a brilliant host. And yes, we want him to [go there]. Way before this, our selection of Chris was to bring some edge and some fun and some funny —intelligent funny — to the telecast. So we know he's going to do that.
So the first good news here is that nobody is expecting Chris Rock to take it easy on them. There has been some unconfirmed talk that he’s throwing out the entire show he had written and starting over following the nomination controversy, so it would be a little near-sighted for anybody to think he’s going to be nice to them, but it wouldn’t be the first time somebody was blindsided by the obvious. You’d expect that Chris Rock would say something. When he opened the Award show in 2005 he remarked that there were four black nominees, it would feel strange if he didn’t say something about how much has changed in over 10 years.
While the Academy is surely not looking forward to being lambasted, you get the feeling that at least a few members feel they deserve it. They recently made amajor overall to the way they handle their own membership as a response to the calls for better diversity, so they obviously recognized a problem. Criticism has come from several different corners of Hollywood including Will Smith, Mark Ruffalo, and Danny DeVito.
We’ll find out exactly what Chris Rock has to say when the Oscars are presented Sunday, February 28, 2016, airing on ABC.