Well, if anyone was nervous about Chris Rock hosting the Academy Awards in the #OscarsSoWhite year, they weren’t wrong to be a little afraid. As expected, Rock basically tore down all the arguments during his opening monologue. Take a look.
I have to say, this really was the right year to have Chris Rock host the Oscars. Rock starts off by poking fun at his hosting gig, noting that if the Academy nominated hosts he wouldn’t get his shot at Oscar by headlining this year’s event, ‘cause, you know, he wouldn’t have even gotten the gig. Rock then mentions all the advice he got to stand down as Oscar host this year and add his voice to the boycotts, but he firmly believes that it’s never a good idea to take advice about quitting a job from someone who's unemployed, and that seems like sound advice to me.
Chris Rock is also right that it’s not like the whole show would have gone up in smoke if he’d decided to pull out. They simply would have let someone else take the wheel; there have to be dozens of recognizable comedians who would love to have a shot at the gig. The absolute best of all worlds is Rock hosting the show right now. I mean, really, who else could make the obvious point, which so few people have mentioned in all the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, that since this is the 88th Academy Awards, most of the ceremonies have been made up of all, or mostly all, white nominees. According to Rock, it’s happened at least 71 other times. So, why didn’t anyone boycott in any of those other years? Well, Chris Rock was right again: black people simply "had real things to protest at the time."
And then, we get to a real kicker. Jada Pinkett Smith was one of the entertainment industry leaders of Oscar boycott and, while she’s obviously upset that Will Smith didn’t get nominated for Concussion, she’s most recently been on Gotham, a TV show. That's when Rock elaborated by noting that "Jada boycotting the Oscars, is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited." His suggestion to cure all the #OscarsSoWhite problems? Have black categories, like Best Black Friend, for which Wanda Sykes would indeed be a shoe-in.
So, is Hollywood racist? As Chris Rock points out, there are different levels to that question. Hollywood, in his estimation, isn’t burning cross racist or "Fetch me some lemonade" racist. Which are all good things to not be. For Rock, the racism in Hollywood is subtler than all that. It’s more "sorority racist", as in "We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa."
Man, if you didn’t love Chris Rock before this monologue, you must love him now. There’s just no way around it.