Chris Rock Calls Oscars ‘the White People’s Choice Awards’ in Monologue

Oscars 2016 Review Chris Rock
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

All eyes were on Chris Rock as the comedian opened the 88th Academy Awards — one of the most politically-charged ceremonies (if not the most) of all time — and he didn’t disappoint.

The comic addressed the #OscarSoWhite controversy head on, taking dig after dig at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Hollywood’s diversity crisis in his monologue.

“Well, I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards,” he said.

Rock then surprisingly slammed Jada Pinkett Smith‘s decision to boycott the Oscars.

“Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited,” he said, leaving the room in stitches.

Rock also revealed that he was pressured to drop out of the show by those around him and “thought about quitting” before ultimately deciding that he would be able to wield greater influence as host.

He also wondered aloud why the industry decided to boycott this year’s Academy Awards when African-Americans have been under-represented “at least 71 other times.” However, they had real things to protest in the 1950s and 60s.

“We were 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,” he said.

His message then turned political, focusing on the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

“This year, the In Memoriam package is just going to be black people who were shot by cops on their way to the movies,” he added.

Rock ended the monologue on a slightly hopeful note.

“Things are changing. We got a black Rocky this year. Some people call it ‘Creed,’ I call it black Rocky,” he said.

The comic said black actors should simply be allotted the same opportunities as white actors.

“It’s not about boycotting anything. We just want opportunities. Black actors want the same opportunities. That’s it. Not just once. Leo [DiCaprio] gets a great part every year. But what about the black actors? Look at Jamie Foxx. Jamie Foxx was so good in ‘Ray’ that they went to the hospital and unplugged the real Ray Charles. They’re like, ‘We don’t need two of these.'”

The Academy nominated only white men and women for the second year in a row in the 20 acting categories, leading several A-listers, including Will Smith, Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee, to sit out the ceremony in protest.

Rock wasted no time in cracking a joke about the issue, tweeting “The #Oscars. The White BET Awards” on Jan. 15 — the day after nominations were announced.

“See you Sunday… #blackout #oscars,” he wrote in a cryptic tweet on Thursday night.

Rock also stressed how out of touch the Oscars are with African-American audiences during his first Academy Awards hosting gig in 2005.

The Academy took historic action last month to promote Oscar diversity, overhauling membership and voting rules in order to double its number of women and diverse members within the next five years.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 16

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. West Hollywood says:

    Blacks interpretation of diversity is different from that of other ethnic groups. As Chris Rock so ably showed during his hosting duties on the recent Oscars telecast.

    What blacks mean when they say there should be more diversity in Hollywood is that there should be more blacks in Hollywood and only blacks. Not more Asians and Hispanics. For examples of this take a look at Chris Rock’s hosting duties. Were there Asians and Hispanics in Rock’s routines? Were they treated with respect? The answer to both questions is of course no.

    Let’s take a look at the greater black community. The NAACP, according to the NAACP, represents all people of color, not just blacks, however in reality it is run for the benefit of blacks, not Asians or Hispanics.

    The NAACP run an awards show called the NAACP Image Awards honoring those in movies, TV, music etc. Take a look at the winners and nominees for the awards over the years. Both nominees and winners are overwhelmingly black. Well over 90% black.

    Where are the Asian and Hispanic nominees and winners? There are more Hispanics in the US than blacks. Using the logic of proportional representation that blacks use to support their cause there should be more Hispanic nominees and winners than blacks, yet this is far from the case.

    More proof that when blacks talk about diversity they mean more blacks, not more blacks, Asians and Hispanics and other marginalized ethnic groups.

  2. K says:

    Chris Rock is STUPID and I turned off the Oscars as soon as he opened his mouth to rant…

  3. PFed says:

    I think Chris Rock did an awful job. We live in a world with much diversity – Jews, Asians, Native Americas, Latinos, Muslims… Even if we look at just the “white” nominees at the Oscars. They represented several countries around the world. So if we really want to stop racism, let’s stop all award shows that isolate others. How are the BET awards & ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Awards not racist to everyone else??

  4. kojoto says:

    What about Asian or Latino diversity? I agree there is not much black representation but how many Asians have you seen in leading roles or who have been nominated for an Oscar?

  5. Ok!! We got the point you’re trying yo make Chris,enough with the racial BS!!

  6. Ghost says:

    I thought Rock was rather flat. His voice cracks too much and hits those high squeaky pitches.

  7. I tune in in to the Oscars to be entertained,not to hear politics.Using the stage as a bully pulpit at the Oscars is not the place to iron out ones differences, it’s supposed to be a night of fun and celebration!

    • Margo Simmons says:

      So we’re you pissed last year when Patricia Arquette went on and on about equal rights for women? Oh did you miss when Brando refused his award for Native Americans. Or recent protests for lifetime achievement awards went to those who named names during the McCarthy era? Exactly what award show have you been watching. Ohhhhh I get it, it’s just this pink elephant we need to ignore.

      • snd says:

        Margo everything you listed and more is why I haven’t watched the oscars probably in 20 years and I work in the industry. I’m sick of being lectured on just about everything under the sun by people who live extremely fortunate lives and yet are always moaning about something. I’m grateful for my job, I’m grateful for the work I do and for all I have. I was once told by someone wiser than I that being grateful for what little or what vast amount you have will help one live at peace with things no matter how they are.

      • Jimmy Green says:

        Rock went on and on and on and on….that’s the difference. He did 25 jokes about blacks and one or two others. ENOUGH ALREADY.

      • I did’nt like last years speech on equal rights for women ,.Brandos protest , Sarandons protest speech or any political speech that has been given at the awards.I understand things need to change and I’m all for it, just not at an awards show that most people look at for entertainment One hears enough of that in everyday life. It’s just nice to get away from all that once in awhile. If that’s a pink elephant,so be it!

  8. Mark Lawrence says:

    The “White People’s BET Awards?” Kind of makes it a “wash”, doesn’t it?

    • PFed says:

      Agreed, I think we need to stop isolating people. Period!

      • Natalie says:

        The reason the BET awards exist is to counter the amount of white privelage in Hollywood and recognise black people for the injustices they’ve been done in the mainstream media. The BET awards were created BECAUSE shows like the Oscars are the white version and until the Oscars become more diverse, of course the BETs are needed!

More Film News from Variety