Words by Tai Saint-Louis
It sounded like the best idea ever: the year Black Hollywood stood collectively fed-up with the Academy Awards’ perpetual snubbing of people of color, the year with the blackest Black History Month in at least four decades, Chris Rock hosting the Oscars should have been the best thing ever.
It wasn’t. And not just because the job of the Oscar host is to make a really long, boring awards show interesting. Chris Rock let Nas down. And Kendrick. And Blue Ivy’s baby hair and afro.
We probably should have seen it coming: the jig should have been up when the commercials for #OscarsSoWhite part two contained every Black actor who’s ever won anything and a voiceover that sounded like Morgan Freeman, we should have guessed that Chris Rock’s presence as host was strictly meant to placate us. We just didn’t expect him to be such a willing participant in the BS.
Here are five times during the Oscars when Chris Rock nominated himself for a potential trade in the next race draft.
1.We know a lot of you were hyped about the opening monologue, but let’s keep it funky…
While Chris Rock immediately attacked the elephant in the room, we couldn’t help but feel like the whole room was laughing at Black people and he didn’t realize it. To make a room full of rich, mostly White people laugh at jokes about lynching is tantamount to Tom Dilton’s “Impotent” joke in Mo’ Money. I mean, he really, actually, said that only unemployed actors were boycotting the Oscars. No paraphrasing.
2.The Jada Pinkett joke was absolutely unnecessary
In the midst of his faux controversial opener, Chris equated Jada Pinkett-Smith’s decision to skip the Oscars to his own decision to pass up on Rihanna’s panties… because neither he nor Jada had been invited. You’re a comedian and comedians make fun of their peers sometimes. But where were your daughters and their Girl Scout troop in that moment?
3.Stacey Dash though?
We’re going to assume that Chris Rock was involved with the writing and flow of the show. But let’s just say for one second that he wasn’t, he had to at least be able to shoot down the idea of having Stacey Dash come out to wish everyone a Happy Black History month on the second to last day of the month, which she feels we don’t need. Unless he actually thought it was funny. In which case the two of them will probably be presented as a draft day package. We’ll take Louis C.K. for the both of them, who’s intro for the Documentary/Short Film category was the exact kind of funny we were hoping to get from Chris.
4.The Oscars Black History Minute
Again, we know Chris didn’t write everything on last night’s show, but we’re going to assume he was at least at the table. And we just can’t fathom how he could greenlight bringing Angela Bassett in to present what sounded like a tribute to Will Smith, only to end it with the “punchline” that the actor she was there to celebrate was Jack Black. How? And as a matter of fact, we need Angela to answer some of these questions too. That was almost as horrible as Sasha Baron Cohen appearing as Ali G and shouting out “the Black bloke from Star Wars… Darth Vader.” Really. All of this happened at the Oscars during the Blackest Black History Month in three decades, with a Black host at the wheel.
5.The Fake Suge Knight
About halfway through the Oscars, Chris Rock took a moment to spotlight the people in the audience who were the subject of some of this year’s nominated films. After acknowledging Joy Mangano, the main character in Jennifer Lawrence’s Joy and Michael Rezendes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose story was reenacted in this year’s “Best Picture” Spotlight, Chris shouted out a fake Suge Knight who appeared in a straight jacket and orange prison jumpsuit, complete with prison guards.
Bonus: “Say boss, can you please by my little guh’s cookies? They sho’ would love to sell you some”
Did you realize, when Chris Rock had these random little Black girls walking around the audience, that his two daughters were actually home in New York? He said that in the intro to the awkward segment and at the end, telling his girls that he would be home soon. So what exactly was the point? And how is it that you’re willing to put on this ridiculous display to allegedly help your girls sell cookies, but last year you couldn’t call on your celebrity friends to get your girls more than $600 in cookie sales? And who bought $60,000 worth of cookies at the Oscars. The whole situation looks sketchy and felt awkward, and it’s only a matter of time before the Girl Scouts of American come looking for receipts.
Moral of the story kids: Don’t halfway stand up for something. Again, we know Chris Rock was in an impossible position, but his willingness to pander and acquiesce to Hollywood’s need to laugh at their lack of diversity so they could feel a little less guilty about it made it uncomfortable for every other Black actor who hit that stage. Don’t believe us, go back and look at Chadwick Bozeman and Michael B. Jordan’s presentation speeches. Instead of representing for African-American actors, Chris Rock made us the butt of the joke and didn’t seem to realize the people he thought were laughing with him were actually laughing at all of us.