Academy Award veteran Chris Rock, who last presented the ceremony in 2005, hosted the 88th Academy Awards on Sunday 28 February.
The #OscarsSoWhite controversy dominated the build up to the event as all 20 nominees in the acting categories were white. Influential black figures within Hollywood openly voiced their frustrations over the seemingly biased nominee decisions, including director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett-Smith.
Despite calls for Chris Rock to abandon the ceremony, the 51-year-old did host the evening whilst utilising the #OscarsSoWhite campaign as the basis for some cleverly critical routines.
In fact Rock and the awards’ producers made the race controversy an ascendant theme on the night, while also managing not to distance the A-list audience. Chris Rock opened the show amid a blissful applause before astutely stating “Man, I counted at least 15 black people on that montage!”.
A 15-minute monologue followed his entrance and it was undoubtedly designed to tackle the controversy surrounding the lack of black presence among the nominees. Rock initially remarked “Is Hollywood racist? Your damn right Hollywood’s racist”.
He then went on to relay a story about attending a fundraiser at the White House and telling the President that his fellow white showbiz guests “don’t hire black people and they’re the nicest white people on earth: they’re liberals”. Rock also continued by saying that their prejudice is “sorority racist, like ‘we like you, Ronda, but you’re not a Kappa’”.
After concluding his anecdote Rock continued with his direct and impassioned monologue, as he remarked “We want opportunity – give black actors the same opportunity as white actors. That’s it. Leo [leonardo dicaprio] gets a great part every year. What about Jamie Foxx?”.
However Rock also mocked high profile boycotters of the event Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. To a roar from the audience he exclaimed, “Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties – I wasn’t invited! You get mad that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated [for his role in Concussion]. Its also not fair that Will was paid $20m to do Wild Wild West”.
Whilst discussing the lack of black nominees at this years Oscars one Facebook user snatched the attention of many with a poignant post.
Adam Campbell posted “Bob is sitting at the dinner table. Everyone else gets a plate of food except Bob. Bob says “Bob deserves food”. Everyone at the table responds “Everyone deserves food” and continues eating. All though everyone deserves food is a true statement, it does nothing to actually rectify the fact that BOB HAS NO FOOD!!
TNT Entertainment Billy Rooney