Chris Rock: “You Damn Right Hollywood’s Racist”
When Chris Rock walked onstage at this year’s Oscars, I wondered out loud how long it would take him to address the #OscarsSoWhite controversy.
The answer was within three seconds.
“Man, I counted at least 15 black people in that montage!” he said cheerfully at the start of a monologue completely devoted to racism in Hollywood. “You realize, if they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job. You’d all be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.”
He said he did consider boycotting the Oscars, but decided the ceremony was going to happen whether he was there or not. The audience gave its first murmur of discomfort when he questioned why black actors were protesting this year’s event when there were probably many instances of all-white nominees in the 50s and 60s:
”Because we had real things to protest at the time. We had real things to protest! Too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer. You know, when your grandmother is swinging from the tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short.”
He also tackled the question of whether Hollywood is racist. “Is it burning-cross racist? No. Is it fetch me some lemonade racist? No, no. It’s a different type of racist. […] You damn right Hollywood’s racist, but it ain’t the racist that you’ve grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, ‘We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.’”
The full speech was a mix of his usual irreverent, boundary-pushing humor and some quotable moments that will be all over the internet for the next few days.
”What I’m trying to say is it’s not about boycotting or anything. It’s just we want opportunity. We want the black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors. That’s it. And not just once.”
Reactions to his performance were nearly all positive and enthusiastic, though there’s a bit of snark and cynicism thrown in.
Our host Ava Gordy has a run-down of the most controversial and powerful moments of this year’s Oscars, including that LGBT misstep from Sam Smith and Lady Gaga’s performance of “Till It Happens To You.”