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

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.

More Film

  • Disney Pandora World Of Avatar, Lake

    The Piano Guys Play 'Avatar' Theme in Disney World (Watch)

    The YouTube sensation The Piano Guys have taken a trip to the world of Pandora for a performance of the theme to “Avatar.” Shot in the bioluminescent floating forest in Disney World, cellist Steven Sharp Nelson and pianist Jon Schmidt put their spin on the score to James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster. The video immerses the [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Billy Drago, 'Untouchables' Star, Dies at 73

    Billy Drago, who often played harming but chilling gangster roles and appeared in Brian De Palma’s “The Untouchables” and Clint Eastwood’s “Pale Rider,” died Monday in Los Angeles of complications from a stroke. He was 73. The character actor played Al Capone’s henchman Frank Nitti in 1987’s “The Untouchables.” On TV series “Charmed,” he put [...]

  • Grant Sputore

    'I Am Mother' Director Tackles Margot Robbie-Produced Thriller 'Augmented'

    Warner Bros. has hired “I Am Mother” director Grant Sputore to helm the science-fiction thriller “Augmented” which Margot Robbie is producing, Variety has learned exclusively. Michael Lloyd Green is rewriting an original script by Mark Townend. Denise Di Novi and Tom Ackerley are also producing. Production companies are Robbie’s LuckyChap and Di Novi’s eponymous Di [...]

  • Miley Cyrus

    Miley Cyrus Teases 'Charlie's Angels' Collaboration with Ariana Grande and Lana Del Rey

    Three of the biggest female pop stars have joined forces in a new song for the Elizabeth Banks-directed reboot of “Charlie’s Angels.” In a tweet posted Wednesday, Miley Cyrus hinted at a collaboration between herself, Lana Del Rey, and Ariana Grande in the forthcoming film. Alongside a 14-second teaser, originally posted by Sony Pictures, the [...]

  • AMC TheatresShop signs, Los Angeles, America

    AMC Subscription Program Hits 860k Members

    AMC’s subscription service, launched in 2018 as a challenger to MoviePass, has reached 860,129 members in its first 12 months. Given the unwieldy moniker of AMC Stubs A-List, the service costs between $19.95 to $23.95 per month depending on where users live. The company initially said it had hoped to sign up 500,000 members in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content