Another year of the Oscars has come and gone, but the highlights of the three-hour television event still linger. Notable moments of the night included the triumphant end to Leonardo DiCaprio’s agonizing wait for that little gold man, and Chris Rock’s hilarious and highly controversial opening monologue. Let’s break down some of his more genius jokes:
1. “I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards.”
Right out of the gate, Rock calls out the Academy on the #OscarsSoWhite that trended on Twitter when it was revealed that zero African-American actors/actresses were nominated for Academy Awards. It was a bold way to start, and it didn’t get any tamer from there.
2. “It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole no black nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times. O.K.?”
This one made me straight out LOL. On the surface it would seem that Rock is trivializing the lack of black nominees at the 2016 Oscars. In truth he’s really highlighting the fact that critics – especially the Academy – have neglected the talents of African-Americans throughout the history of film. It’s nothing new, but in 2016 many feel that it’s getting really old.
3. “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”
Jabbing at Jada Pinket Smith for asking black actors to boycott the Oscars altogether was witty and funny. Comparing it to boycotting Rihanna’s underwear made the remark just shy of priceless.
4. “If you want black people every year at the Oscars, just have black categories like Best Black Friend.”
Does the perfection of this statement even need to be explained? Rock blatantly highlighted and criticized the all-too-common “Token Black Friend” archetype portrayed in both television and film. And he used the Oscars stage to do it.
5. “Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, ‘We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.’ That’s how Hollywood is.”
Last but not least, this gem placed in the second half of Rock’s speech really put the mystic racism of Hollywood in a simple, recognizable collegiate example. It’s not that Hollywood practices outright prejudice against people of color, but it’s selective like sororities and fraternaties are selective. If you’re not a skinny, white blonde girl or a buff sports-obsessed party boy, you’re not out – you’re just way below second choice. ◼︎