On Thursday, Chris Rock warned us all to get ready for an Oscars blackout. No one knew what he had in store, but we all speculated that Chris might tear a (black) hole in last night’s 88th annual Academy Awards, and that’s exactly what he did. Rock was relentless, and left the majority White audience simultaneously laughing and squirming in their seats… totally on purpose. One could say his entire opening was one big Oscar read.
Some of Rock’s best (and most delightfully uncomfortable) #OscarSoWhite jokes?
In the comedian’s own words:
If they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job. You’d be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.
It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole ‘no Black nominees’ thing has happened at least 71 other times. You gotta figure that it happened in the ’50s, in the ’60s. In the ’60s 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 ’62 or ’63. And Black people did not protest. Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time. Too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer. When your grandmother is swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about Best Documentary Foreign Short.
This year things are going to be a little different at the Oscars. This year in the “In Memoriam” package, it’s just going to be Black people that were shot by the cops on their way to the movies.
If you want more Black people every year at the Oscars, just have Black categories, like “Best Black Friend.” And the winner for the 18th year in a row is: Wanda Sykes!
Hollywood is ‘sorority racist.’ It’s like, ‘We like you Ronda! But you’re not a Kappa.
Things are changing. We got a Black Rocky this year. Some people call it Creed. I call it Black Rocky. That’s an unbelievable statement, because Rocky takes place in a world where White athletes are as good as Black athletes. So Rocky is a science fiction movie. There are things that happen in Star Wars that are more believe than things that happen in Rocky.
And then came the skits.
The first Rock introduced demonstrated how, if you’re a Black actor, just getting the opportunity to be in a movie can be a struggle. It included vignettes from this year’s nominated films: Joy, The Revenant, The Danish Girl and The Martian. But this time, actors Whoopi Goldgerg, Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan and Rock himself appeared in them to make mockery.
For instance, in Joy—while Lawrence struggles as Joy Mangano trying to sell her first mop—Whoopi appears as a custodian pushing a mop and saying, “Maybe one day they’ll make a movie about a skinny White lady who invented a mop. Of course, a Black girl would have to invent the cure to cancer before they even give her a TV movie.”
Chris followed up this skit by announcing the Academy was taking new steps to fix the problem, with a “Director of the Minority Outreach Program” Rock introduced as none other than Stacey Dash—who came out waving. We’re still not sure if Dash knows this was a joke at her expense.
The next skit Rock introduced was a special presentation Black History Month Minute featuring Angela Bassett, who on behalf of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored a Black person who has “shattered barriers with his groundbreaking performances.” That Black person turned out to Jack Black.
Finally, to help solve the problem of Hollywood’s diversity, Rock traveled away from Hollywood as far as he could—to a movie theater in Compton no less, for a fresh perspective. He talked to mostly all Black folks at the theater about issues surrounding the Oscars’ lack of diversity. At one point, he gave an Oscar to people and asked them to give an acceptance speech.
One of the only Whites that Rock spoke with actually said what a lot of the real nominees might have been thinking: “I’d like to thank the Academy for nominating yet another White person this year. I would complain, but it was me, so maybe I’ll complain next year.”
Crystal Shaw King is a seasoned TV, radio and online entertainment writer. She's also a contributing editor for a social justice foundation in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @crystalamberbam.