The Academy Awards have been at the center of controversy for years for not including nominees of African descent or films featuring topics of that are familiar to people of color. While it is true that the Oscars have honored a few black folks in recent years, the truth of the matter is that the Oscars have been “So White” for the overwhelming majority of its existence.
Last night, comedian Chris Rock hosted the event, but Will Smith, Idris Elba and Michael B. Jordan, among others, were noticeably not nominated, despite turning in critically-acclaimed performances in Concussion, Beasts of No Nation and Creed, respectively.
Amid cries from the peanut gallery urging him to boycott, Chris Rock was resolute in his belief that he should show up anyway. His monologue was one of the most highly anticipated in the history of the Academy Awards.
After taking the Academy to task for being racist in a “polite” manner in the opening monologue, the overwhelming majority of Rock’s jokes were at the expense of other black people. I am not one to legislate the First Amendment Rights of anyone, but dang! I guess it would have been bad form for him to lean on an auditorium full of Hollywood’s mostly white elite after cashing a check they gave him to host.
Yahoo thought he was “hilarious” while USA Today named Rock’s joke about our ancestors being raped and lynched as their favorite of the night.
He continued his theme of criticizing blacks to the delight of Hollywood’s elite throughout the evening. For me this was further solidified with the 'Replace the bear in Revenant with a Black woman' skit and the inclusion of Stacey Dash in any capacity seemed, at least to me, to be attempts at making white Hollywood laugh at the expense of black pain rather than a skillfully crafted piece of artistry that made them laugh and think at the same time.
Shaun King of the New York Daily News had this to say about the monologue;
Listen, I know Chris steps on toes for a living, but I don't ever want to hear a live audience laughing about the lynching of our grandmothers. I can't imagine the deepest, darkest pain of any other group of people being used as a prime-time punchline. Not only that, but we indeed live in an era where black bodies, riddled with bullets, choked lifeless, Tasered repeatedly, are strewn all over this country from coast to coast.
Check out some of the monologue below and tell us what you think.