Almost a year following the infamous slapping incident at the 2022 Oscars, comedian Chris Rock took to the stage to share his truth for the world to see.
On Saturday, Rock’s latest Netflix special titled Selective Outrage aired live on the streamer for the first time on location at The Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland. During the hour and seven-minute set, he shared his thoughts on a host of topics including, cancel culture, “wokeness,” victimhood, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, his family life, and of course, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith.
Beginning his set, Rock critiqued what he described as “wokeness” and “cancel culture" and how everyone is addicted to attention.
“In the old days, if someone just wanted your job, they just worked harder than you. Now, if somebody wants your job, they just wait for you to say some dumb s**t," the comedian said.
"I have no problem with wokeness. I'm all for social justice and all for marginalized people getting their rights. The thing I have a problem with is the selective outrage,” he argued.
Rock then targeted Markle and Prince Harry claiming they wanted to be victims after their fallout with the Royal Family of the United Kingdom.
"Everybody trying to be a victim," Rock said. "Meghan Markle, seems like a nice lady, just complaining. I was like 'Didn't she hit the light-skin lottery?'"
According to Rock, some of the offenses that Markle shared with Oprah Winfrey during her exclusive interview could not be defined as racism but family drama.
"It's the royal family! They're the original racists. They invented colonialism," Rock said. "Some of the sh*t she went through wasn't racism, it was just some in-law sh*t."
Rock went on to argue that the Royal Family's inquiry about Archie's skin color wasn’t a racist act because Black people ask the same thing about their babies.
"That's not racist because even Black people want to know how brown the baby going to be," he said.
Closing out the hour set, Rock angrily lit into Smith and Pinkett-Smith as he broke down the history of his relationship with the couple. Comparing the size difference between him and Smith, Rock joked that Smith played Muhammad Ali and he played Pookie on New Jack City.
“Y'all know what happened to me, getting smacked by Suge Smith,” Rock joked. “It still hurts. I got ‘Summertime’ ringing in my ears."But I’m not a victim, baby," Chris continued. "You’ll never see me on Oprah or Gayle crying. You will never see it. Never gonna happen. … No, I took that hit like [Manny] Pacquiao.”
Rock claimed that Smith embodied what selective outrage is and Jada embarrassed publicly embarrassed him by talking about her alleged affair with August Alsina, a friend of the family, on her Red Table Talk Show. During the rant, he repeatedly called both of them the “b-word."
"But Will Smith practices selective outrage," he added. "'Cause everybody knows what the f*ck happened. Everybody that really knows, knows I had nothing to do with that sh*t. I didn't have any entanglements." His wife was f**king her son’s friend," he said. "Now, I normally would not talk about this sh*t, but for some reason, these [N-words] put this sh*t on the internet. I have no idea why two talented people would do something that f**king low down,” he added. “We’ve all been cheated on, everybody in here’s been cheated on. None of us has ever been interviewed by the person that cheated on us on television. … Why the f**k would you do that shit? She hurt him way more than he hurt me. ... Everybody called him a b*tch, and who's he hit? Me! A [N-word] he knows he can beat. That is some b*tch a** sh*t.”
Closing out the special, Rock shared why he didn’t try to hit Smith back after being slapped on stage.
"A lot people go, 'Chris how come you didn't do nothing back? How come you didn't do nothing back that night?' Because I got parents, that's why. Because I was raised. "And you know what my parents taught me? Don't fight in front of white people."
Immediately after the special, many held with varying opinions about Rock’s performance and his content.
Kelly Lawler characterized Rock as a “sad old man” and entrenched in the Hollywood establishment in her review for USA Today.
It was embarrassing to watch Rock complain about the kids with their wokeness and their social media and their feelings, she write. Boo hoo for them, Rock says, they don't have real problems. Not like Rock, who was slapped at the Oscars last year. He may have millions of dollars, you see, but he "identifies as poor."
"The problem is not that Rock made jokes about young people or transgender people or women or Duchess Meghan. It's that he made bad jokes about them. He doesn't have to like the people he talks about," she continued. "Heck, he doesn't have to like anyone. But if he is going to spend five minutes on a bit about what might happen if one of his parents was transgender, the punchline has to be better than "wouldn't that be insane." If he's going to joke about abortion and killing babies, the punchline has to be better than "children are annoying." If he is going to joke about Jada Pinkett Smith and extensively address the Oscars slap, the punchline has to be better than calling her a gendered slur over and over again."
Only time will tell if Rock and Smith will ever reconcile. After Selective Outrage and the anger Rock displayed toward Smith and Pinkett-Smith a year later, that proposition seems much more unlikely.