Let’s Talk About Chris Rock’s Oscars Opening Monologue
I did not plan on boycotting the 2016 Academy Awards but I also didn’t plan on watching it. You’re probably like “wait what?” Yes. I take “boycott” to mean I’m making a conscious decision to show that my support is not going to be added to the mix. I just didn’t feel like watching the penguin show this year but the way my attention span is set up right now? Nah. 3.5 hours of that shit was not how I wanted to spend my Sunday night.
BUT let it be noted that I fully understand why people said “fuck the Oscars” this year. Because: valid. The Academy consistently shows that they don’t give nary a damb about diversity or an actual merit-based awards ceremony.
Anywho, the only part I cared to even catch up on was Chris Rock’s opening monologue.
When he was announced as host of the show, people wanted him to boycott too. But I thought he shoulda gone on and used the opportunity to use comedy to make some serious statements about the sad state of affairs. I even wrote him a few #OscarsSoWhite jokes.
This morning, I caught up and watched Chris’ opening set.
I didn’t love it or hate it. I’m pretty middle of the road about it. There were some good jabs overall in there but I don’t think this was all he could do. I don’t think he pushed the envelope enough. And I also don’t think he made the room uncomfortable. The jokes felt surface and people laughed where they were supposed to.
He did OK. That’s about it. It was just aight. I do feel like he minimized the feelings of those who boycotted. He kinda made it known that it was silly for them to do it and that’s wrong. He’s talmbout why is this the year to boycott, which I think is a goofy question to ask. “Why is this the year to be fed up?” is pointless. Because people get fed up when they’re good and damb well ready. We’ve had to many straws that shoulda rendered the camel paraplegic so to wonder that is a waste of time.
And that Jada joke, about her being salty for Will not getting nominated. Some people said that took it too far. Meh. However, it was a bit creepy for him to say he wouldn’t turn down an invitation into Rihanna’s pants. Sir, she’s almost half your age. STAHP.
My favorite thing he said was:
Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right Hollywood is racist. But it ain’t that racist that you’ve grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, “We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.” That’s how Hollywood is.
THAT made me chuckle. But I didn’t laugh at loud much during the monologue. Not because I was offended, but because I just wasn’t that tickled. Mostly, my funny bone had a blank stare going on. Chris Rock is funny as hell. Normally. But FOR ME, he fell flat on this monologue. Not his best work and I don’t think he rocked it like he should have.
Again, I didn’t HATE it but I certainly don’t think he NAILED IT, like some folks are saying. Folks talmbout he “skewered” Hollywood. Nah. He just grazed them a little bit with a hotter than usual iron. No one is walking away with proverbial 3rd degree burns. Chris gave them an open hand punch. It hurt a little but not enough.
So, what did y’all think of Chris’ opener. Let’s talk about it! And no, I’m not talmbout Stacey Dash’s janky ass appearance.
I wonder how much of it was watered down… doesnt he have to turn in his act to get it approved? I am curious .. .
Who approved his stuff?
Yeah, I’m wondering as well. I love CR, but I thought there was some “I wanna work again” going on there too.
I think that’s a powerful observation. As a black business owner I think this is a game we sometimes have to ‘play.’ When I was more tethered to a normal job I felt an immense pressure to dial down anything that would make anyone uncomfortable.
I chose not to watch, am not a big CR fan– neutral about him.
There’s actually a group of writers that write all of the hosts jokes for them. I’m sure Chris had a huge hand in it — but it is something that has to be approved by the Network and many others. Sadly, that was probably as far as he was allowed to take it.
The producer was Reginald Hudlin he does the approving – Network S&P( standard and practice) only has to check for language and not mentioning names of companies etc.
I totally agree with Luvvie it was Meh
“Folks talmbout he ‘skewered’ Hollywood. Nah. He just grazed them a little bit with a hotter than usual iron.”
THIS! Yes, the “you damn right Hollywood is racist” bit was strong, but it was the only strong point of his monologue (along with emphasizing that we want opportunities and recognition as any other actors). He seemed to go out of his way dismiss the boycott and the feelings of outrage about the lack of diversity.
i totally agree. i LOVE Chris Rock but this was pretty… bland. i expected a bit more but we all have our off days.
I thought it was kind of meh as well. I cringed more than I laughed. I did not like the jokes about lynchings (grandma hanging) or the jokes about teens getting shot on the way to the theater. The idea of a mostly white audience laughing at black lives, I don’t know maybe I was over thinking. It just fell flat to me.
I totally agree. Some of his joke made me think, “Why are people actually laughing about that?”. Uncomfortable.
I kept waiting for him to say something that made the room go totally silent. He was the only reason to watch it. It’s the same every single year, with the same people in the same type of movies and there is nothing exciting or interesting about it. I thought he might shake it up, keep it lively, or just shock the shit out of everybody once or twice, but he just kinda half-assed it. And even my white ass thought the Stacey Dash bit was cheap and stupid. He’s better than that kind of schtick. Or at least he used to be.
I watched it beyond the monologue, for another hour or so, I switched back and forth between it and the walking dead, and I personally feel he did make them uncomfortable. He brought diversity, or lack there of, up every chance he got, and that, for me, is doing the job. Because it wasn’t just an opening monologue and then business as usual. It was all through the show. When Stacy Dash came out and the room was silent, it was over for me. Everybody has a part to play, and I’m glad he did his.
I watched the American Black Film Festival Awards showing at the same time on BET. A darn sight better than the Oscars. Grown up and mature. I’ve never liked Chris Rock’s humor anyway. I did hope he’d sear the establishment with more grown-up talk but I felt that a lot of what he did pull off was puerile and some downright dumb.
Luvvie, you brought me out the woodwork to comment on this one! Girl, right on! I agree entirely. I watched the opening monologue, and it was so blah, whatever, I changed the channel and rolled my eyes. I was immediately tired just thinking about the fake ass high-fiving that was going to be going on, when Chris phoned in that performance fa real. Thanks for keeping it real sista.
I actually thought it was really funny. I believed it was not about being HA HA funny but uncomfortable funny. He is right. What is it about this year why folks wanted to boycott. Have people become more conscious or is it because the neglecting of black folks was more prevalent this year. I thought he struck the right balance. We know how good Chris Rock can be. Through most of the monologue he made people squirm and the lynching to me was a way of saying that there are more important things for black people to boycott other than a stupid award show. The part about people not having anthing else of importance to boycott was irony and sarcasm at its best because clearly that was lost on quite a few folks
I agree Karen … his jokes were spot on for me as how he chose to handle the crowd … i was shocked he went there bringing up the 50s and 60s talking about the lynchings and rapings but even still it was a very valid point … why yall want to boycott now for … oh cause now you tired of not seeing enough colored representation in white Hollywood … he basically gave us a visual comparison of how the times are the same as they were back then but that back then we had more pressing issues to protest about like human rights…. he may have went to far with his joke on Jada though … and even though I understood the whole Stacey Dash moment as a moment to poke fun at her and for her tired ass to stay relevant .. I still could have done without her. But overall he did well.
I completely agree with you Karen!
I agree Karen. I am not a Chris Rock fan but thought his opening was funny.
Agree Karen. I was a little confused about this post and some of the comments here. One common theme: He didn’t attack racist Hollywood enough. He basically said Hollywood is Racist. Directly. Those exact words. That’s not direct enough??? 99.9% of his monologue was about racism and the oscars being racist.
Many of the points he brought up were valid. Folks may not like it but it’s true. Jada boycotting the oscars is kind of a joke cos she wasn’t invited. True. Boycotting the oscars 60 years ago wasn’t a priority because we had more pressing issues. True. Doesn’t mean we don’t have more pressing issues now. But then it was a different magnitude of pressing. Truth. The joke about the black category because there is a actor and actress category. Smart. Funny. Observant. Not rolling on the floor funny. But haha funny and observant funny.
Many like Chris Rock not just cos his jokes are funny but takes the truth and irony about everyday situations and makes them funny. So it’s intellectual humor. Just My opinion.
hi from the netherlands, boy did chris rock deliver! he softened up the crowd by making rightly fun of Jada, PULEEZE, boycot FLINT’s mayor, BOYCOT the people who build private prisons, not an awards show! after jada, he the came back with a suckerpunch when he reminded everyone of the lynchings!! he said that so the audience would remember, then he made fun of the movie creed that was stranger than science fiction, because of white and black athletes being equals, then he took his gun and shot the crowd when he called said yep hollywood liberals are the nicest whites around and still they are racists, sorority racism! and he ended with the wish of every black actor!!! Opportunity, because jamie fox would have nailed the movie the revenant! taraji would have owned the movie room had she played a mom kidnapped and held in a room, i am chuckling still three days after, and to top it off, he teased Asians so they could also join the fray!!! everyone seems to forget that oscars so white were exactly that!! not only a black issue, so let the Asians man up and also help fight the fight, why should only a little skinny chris rock fight for all colours.??if all colours joined forces wow, the hollywood sorority club would know iit ain only a black issue….god blessy his skinny butt!!
You nailed it, Luvvie. He was ok. Kinda straddling the fence between shaking things up and staying safe. But maybe he went as far as he could go in that context. Hated the Jada joke, though. She took a stand, she showed courage, and he mocked her for it. Ugh. And he just wasn’t that funny. The man can kill when it’s his own standup – here, he was just…eh, funny enough to bring a half-smile, no more. And not even close to making the kind of statements that would have silenced the room. Still. Glad it was him and not someone else. Next year…Leslie Jones! My wish 😉
His opening schtick seemed to focus on how petty concentrating on the Oscars is.
Ehhh, I always feel strange when people tell me about the “more important” things I should be worried about. The fact is, all these little things add up to big things. One reason our babies are shot in the street and overlooked is because no one sees them as children or as worthy people. And I think that definitely goes back to not being offered a balanced view by the media and/or not being viewed as a “contributing” factor in art/entertainment.
The Oscars (the awards) are out of line. But before we even get to the awards, you have to look at talented black actors and filmmakers not being allowed an opportunity to share their voice and showcase the varied experience of people of color. Big name studios like to play the You Can’t Sit At Our Table game and that shuts out diversity from the get-go. So are there other things to worry about? Sure, but this shit is important too because it’s all connected.
EXACTLY. Tell di troof!
I didn’t watch it this year. I’m tired of Hollywood only recognizing and giving opportunities to white guys. Not enough recognition or opportunities for women in directing either. Yeah, Leo is a good actor, but I didn’t really care he finally got his first Oscar. General apathy on my part!
Did you see this brilliant spoof?
I think CR did enough, w/o making the entire Dolby Theatre feel uncomfortable…which is what he SHOULD have done. He’s in no position to rub the AMPAS’ nose in this topic at hand…nor did he need to (Spike did more than enough when he earned is Lifetime Achievement Award this year.) As an alternative, he was ‘equal opportunity’ with his dish (the ‘Compton Theater’ bit really showed this…most black folks didn’t even know 25% of the leading films up for nomination.) He acknowledged the disparity, but let AMPAS™ President Cheryl Boone Isaacs do her job & discuss the matter herself.
As many could see, the issue polarizes most of Black Hollywood. Chadwick Boseman was out there…same as Michael B. Jordan. Kerry Washington didn’t miss an appearance either. If you thought there was work out there you could still get, you found a Vera Wang dress or tuxedo & good shoes. As Chris said, “It wasn’t like they were gonna cancel the Oscars…and I can’t lose any more work to Kevin Hart.”
Yes, Tinseltown has a long, LONG history of pin-cushioning black actors/actresses to certain genres. Much of that can be attributed to who controls the production studios. But for the contingent that WE DO have (Antoine Fuqua, Ava Duvernay, Malcolm Lee, Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry, etc.), we must continue to reach DEEP and make better films, write better scripts, and demand the opportunity to show our range. We all know we can be funny, do action, and depict struggle/oppression.
Let’s work on a year where we don’t have any Ride Alongs, No Madea’s, don’t banter over ‘Thinking Like a Man’ or how “Two Can Play That Game’, and nothing about civil rights. Black Cinema is bigger than that…our stories are more than than…and WE are greater than that. It’ll require some deep thought, but when it’s statue time again, I imagine that reception will better received by Hollywood peers.
Thank you. Your last paragraph said what I’ve been thinking for years! We need our writers to give us worthy stories and we need people who will produce them- this is where Will & Jada can come in with their production company (as long as we aren’t forced to cast Jayden or Willow in a major role).
I honestly felt he was feeling anxious. A lot was riding on this and there was a no-show on his usual confident self when it comes to delivery. He was shaky in delivering his lines,which I thought was odd. Overall okay but I am glad I passed…
What ‘Leave it to Brittni’ said. There is an absolute correlation between how black and brown people are depicted in the media and how we are treated. It’s all relevant.
I actually think he did a great job and definitely made folks uncomfortable. It’s hard to fully get what the sentiment of folks in the room is watching from home and being subject to certain camera cuts.
I wished he talked more about the discriminatory process of how candidates get nominated in the first place. All of the backlash banter about how black actors just need to ‘work harder on their craft’ is null and void when you consider that often the Oscar review panel/board/commitee, don’t even bother to watch select movies featuring non – white performers.
I also have a feeling he wished to go even harder but had to cut shit during pre – planning, rehearsals, etc.
My question is what happens next? What say ya’ll?
Chris Rock has always been “white people funny” to me. You know, the kind of funny that is acceptable for Black people to do around white people. I didn’t expect him to address any real issue. I rather did like that he called out Jada because it was, to me, convenient that she chose this year to boycott. I personally would like her and her husband to actually fund/produce a film (that neither of them is the star of….they are both kinda iffy actors) with a great Black roles…..working with a great screenwriter and drawing on Black actors to fill non-traditional roles. I don’t watch the Oscars nor any of the types of films traditionally nominated for Oscars. The one thing I have noticed over the years, though, is that there is a pattern to the nominations and very few Black roles (or Black movies) fit into that pattern, so if we want to see Black people win that raggedy award, some of those types of films need to be made with Black people.
When it first started and I realized he was going right at the elephant in the room, I was hollering. But as it went on, I realized it was more “I’m gonna make jokes about racism that are funny enough for the white folks to enjoy” than the “Telling white people how it really is” humor. I guess it was alright though…I did laugh a few times
At the end of the day… Rock is a working actor/comedian. You can’t poke the lion while your hand is in his mouth
It was a little pitchy to me, dawg. But he did his thing doe.
My first Luvvie response…In general, I am a Chris Rock fan. (“So what you got a degree? I can count…1,2,4,5,6 counting these rocks biah!”lol fav line ever) I wanted more. He did have some good lines (I maybe chuckled 2 times) but I wanted the audience to be more stunned into silence than laughing. I understand he is a comedian…so laughter is how he makes his bread, but I sure did not want those folks to laugh so much. I felt he could have pushed more with out going off the cliff. He did not even go to the edge. The “Jada comment”…eh. I do not care one way or the other: I understand the call for a boycott even though the year she does it is a bit questionable. Chris had a great platform, I expected more.
His monologue was okay but the funniest part of the night was the sketch on what Black people have to do to get Oscars with Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, Chris and Whoopi! That was funny as hell. I am still laughing at Tracy talking about “this danish is good girl” in drag, lol!
I dunno, I thought it was pretty pointed. It reminded me of Colbert’s delivery to the WH correspondents (dinner). The laughs were fewer as time went on & the discomfort showing more clearly. But, mileage may vary 🙂
He was on target; he said things that required thought and consideration. But if you’re looking for one person to be the engine that drives change (without literally being killed) you are doomed to disappointment.
That said best thing was the end of the show – credits rolling to Public Enemy’s Fight the Power.
I didn’t chuckle once. And I felt like, “If Jon Stewart tackled this…”
I felt like he was the Black maitre’d who shooed away the loud ass niggras in front of the pish posh resteraunt, who were refused entry, and reassured the dining white folks everything is going to be OK, please enjoy your meal.
Egggzactly! Black maître d for white folk. That’s exactly the vibe I got too.
Also too Luvvie, his new girlfriend is same age group with Rihanna and just about half his age. White mother, Nigerian father. They interviewed her on Inside Edition and introduced her as Chris Rock’s girlfriend. Is his divorce even complete? SMH.
I AGREE, Luvvie. I thought it was mostly terrible, and I love Chris Rock. #RockSoDisappointing.
That joke about Jada was all kinds of wrong. Making fun of her was wrong to begin with. It’s like he did it to make the Academy comfortable. And THEN the joke itself was beyond horrible. Rihanna’s panties? Nooooo! That was nasty, sexist, and creepy. And after this nasty joke he brought his daughters and their Girl Scout troop out? 🙁 HAVE.MERCY.
I think Rock is afraid of the Academy too. He didn’t call them out as strongly as he could have. The problem with this year’s Oscars wasn’t that there were no movies with black actors – it was that there WERE movies with black actors who gave GREAT performances, and they were ignored.
First of all, I just can’t get past his joke about raping and lynching … how is THAT funny??? We were too busy during the 50’s and 60’s being raped and lynched to care about the Academy Awards. What??? Like Black people don’t have more IMPORTANT things to care about NOW??? High unemployment, police brutality, failing schools, tainted water — but we have time to care about the freaking Academy Awards? GTFOH. Also, the image of our grandmothers hanging from trees as a punchline? No, NO, NO.
I felt the same way, Stacey. He had people laughing that things that are never funny.
He still has to work and wants to work in Hollywood. .he’s not trying to mess up his gig..understable..he did what he could under the circumstances. .i wouldn’t mess up my postion either. .he was ok..i didnt like grandma lynched joke..i understood it but didnt like it..
Chris Rock hasn’t been funny to me in yrs. So it was what I expected it to be. Nothing lost nothing gained. Just meh.
I thought he was funny with the right amount of bite. Some of the sketches wore thin after a while but he definitely struck a balance. I don’t understand why people expected him to go full ‘bigger and blacker’. It wasn’t his stage to do that. He’s hosting an awards show, not an HBO special. He did make the audience uncomfortable. There were moments when you could hear a pin drop. Them white folks was scared as hell to laugh. I mean, what white person in 2016 (racist presidential nominees and KKK members excluded) would dare to laugh at a joke about a grandmother being lynched?
I’d give him and 8/10. He had to pelt a jab at Will and Jada too. But he did it in a way that hit home for me. After all, he’s being paid a gazillion dollars to host the ‘white people choice awards’. 🙂
Jada was an easy target and he took it. Saying Jada only spoke up because Will didn’t get nominated may be true but it’s condescending to imply her motives were her man as if she doesn’t see the problem. His bit about “not everything is sexism” because they don’t ask women what they’re wearing anymore wasn’t funny either. It gets old seeing black males dismissing women but praising other black males (Jamie and Kevin).
I felt like I got the overlay for the underplay. I was looking forward to him really giving it to Hollywood, kind of the way I was looking forward to you really going in on his wackness. Both disappointed. Black history month was the ish but this extra damn day sucked big time.
I did like Chris’ monologue. He dutifully accepted addressing one issue for ten minutes as an opening act – this is not typical. But he knew we would feed him to the wolves if he didn’t accept the unspoken responsibility and deliver. He also did so in the faces of an almost all-white audience and in front of an unexpected number and demographic of tv viewers (because he did not know what the outcome would be at the time), who obviously did not participate in a very controversial, racially-charged boycott. In some ways, people expect him to voice the opinion and concerns of black actors, filmmakers and populations worldwide. That’s an impossible request. He struck the right balance and presented a monologue that was appropriate for the situation and audience. I looked at the undercurrent of what he was saying and therefore didn’t interpret the decades reference or other comments as a critique on those boycotting. I saw him actually responding to people who may have been asking “why now?” And his response was, in fact, well yes this has been happening forever, but since we don’t have to remove lynched bodies from trees, we can focus some attention on this (but not all, because, well there is still a lot going on). He performed well despite being on the receiving end of a never-ceasing wagging finger of educating some of the relevance of the boycott, voicing the concerns of others AND being funny while doing it. I think he did a very good job as a comedian and entertainer. I’ve been and remain a fan.
One thing I don’t understand that no one is mentioning. Many folks talked about the credits rolling over Fight the Power by Public Enemy (and some folks were “so upset” GTFOH!), but they seemed to totally miss the fact that Chris Rock Came Out On Stage In The Beginning To That Same Song! When I heard Fight the Power, I said, “Oh Sh*t! It’s about to be on!” And it was.
I laughed so hard that I could barely breathe at times. Near the end of his monologue, I literally felt like I was about to pee on myself so I ran to the bathroom (this “TMI Moment” brought to you by…Charmin! lol). Point is, it was a damn good and very funny, biting, in your face yet BALANCED monologue. It was exactly what was needed from someone who needs to say something powerful yet still remain employed.
Maybe the problem is, too many people are (no pun intended) Black or white. Chris had to walk a very fine line and he basically pimp slapped Everyone. He didn’t just slap the whites in the room who routinely discriminate – sometimes unconsciously – and who celebrate their own mediocrity while ignoring superior performances of POCs (looking at YOU, Rocky!), but also the Blacks protesting for whatever reason, some of which had nothing to do with a serious concern for diversity and more to do with personal reasons or that they are just sheep who follow the boycott bandwagon without need of reason.
His jokes that mentioned the lynching is consistently being taken out of context. It was a lead-in comment; not a joke in and of itself. It demonstrates just how much crap Black people in this country have had to deal with for so long, that what we face NOW isn’t isolated, it explains the ANGER that has built up and why something as “trivial” as The Oscars means something, particularly in light of the real fear of the Blue KKK who murder our children without consequences. All that was presented in a way they can feel uncomfortable yet still cause them to think without cramming their face in it violently.
One thing though about Jada and Will. If it were my husband, I would take up for him, too. But I don’t believe that was her motivation. Millions of us are ready to fight after a couple year of our unarmed babies being MURDERED, left in the streets like trash, and their DEATHS paraded on facebook & twitter like some tragic porno, so we’re at a point where we want to fight for and about Everything that is wrong and potentially racist. It is time. And no one has the right to say what should piss you off and when. Also, Jada NEVER called for anyone to boycott!!! She simply said SHE was not going to watch and explained why. Spike said the same thing. But people decided on their own that they meant ‘boycott’ when that wasn’t the case. ijs
It wasn’t funny. Even with the sorority racism joke and the cameos of blacks getting work in Hollywood, it just wasn’t funny. Which is the most offensive thing of all for a comedian.
It was not funny. The jokes about black people hanging from trees was not funny. AT ALL. The joke about Jada was not appreciated and unnecessary. I like Chris Rock, but I think he watered down his act too much and ended up being the token black guy in the room.