Chris Rock was the host of the 88th Oscars and delivered a memorable monologue addressing Hollywood diversity. Marking his second time as host, his appearance was much anticipated in the midst of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Now the critics are weighing in; see a roundup of reviews and video highlights right here!
Chris Rock last hosted the Oscars in 2005, and so much has changed in the past 11 years. Who would have thought that diversity would suddenly become the trending topic on social media for weeks and weeks after Jada Pinkett Smith’s announcement that she was boycotting as no black actors or actresses were nominated in the major categories. Some opined that she spoke out because her husband, Will Smith, was snubbed for his critically acclaimed performance in ‘Concussion.’ Whatever the reason, the topic exploded and many weighed in, with varying degrees of effectiveness
Now it was Chris Rock’s turn to address the proverbial elephant in the room, and he didn’t shy away from it; not that we even imagined he would. With one zinger after another, diversity was dissected and re-dissected. From his opening lines (” I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People Choice Awards”) to the jab at Smith (“Jada is going to boycott the Oscars — Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.”) he was in command.
His commentary was unmistakably pointed, questioning why suddenly a boycott at the 88th Oscars over the all-white nominees, saying, “You have to figure it happened in the 50s, in the 60s… And black people did not protest. Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time. ”
Social media erupted with approval and needless to say, it was an an explosive start to an awards show which, after that, arguably was all downhill. That said, there were highlights, not least, Leonardo DiCaprio finally getting the Best Actor Oscar for ‘The Revenant.’ And, as expected, Brie Larson took home Best Actress for ‘The Room,’ as this year’s breakout star added to her already, impressive shelf-full of awards this season.
Lady Gaga’s performance of ‘Till It Happens to You’ was another highlight. It’s the Oscar-nominated song from the documentary on campus rape, ‘The Hunting Ground,’ preceded by an impassioned introduction from Vice President Joe Biden, pleading for a change in climate on college campuses. But the Oscar went to Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall” from the James Bond movie “Spectre.”
Now that the 88th Oscars have come and gone, bringing the usual surprises and awkward moments, Here is a roundup of what critics have to say.
“…He came with his ax sharp. Mr. Rock had been signed to host the awards before the controversy, but it was a lucky pairing of host and subject. You have to wonder if the academy was anticipating it less with dread than with relief. If Mr. Rock flogged Hollywood properly enough, the Oscars — along with the academy’s reforms — might come across as a kind of public penance…..” — NY Times
“…. His initial delivery was blunt and humorous but as the ceremony winded down, so did Rock’s understanding of the bigger problem at hand. ….” — NBC News
“….As it turned out, Rock aimed a few barbs — several at boycotters Will and Jada Pinkett Smith — but mostly kept the tone more funny than mean, with a dash — er, Dash — of irony when, at the end of his monologue, he introduced Fox News commentator Stacey Dash — an African American with little tolerance for minority whiners — as the new head of the Academy’s “outreach program.” That was followed by an equally losable bit by Sarah Silverman…..” — Deadline
“…..It was a funny monologue, and Rock was funny in a capacity that, as always happens in these shows, diminished more and more as he went along. In case you didn’t get it from the monologue, the Oscars race issue was brought up in no less than three filmed segments, each of which was amusing on its own, but maybe together tended toward overkill, stretched across a telecast that ran long…..” — The Hollywood Reporter
“….The 2016 Oscars telecast was a hot mess, but it certainly wasn’t boring. An event most often criticized for being self-indulgent and self-congratulatory — so over-long, repetitive and predictable that the host is all but required to joke about its absurdity — this year’s Academy Awards was a strange compilation of atonal moments in which the audience was kept perpetually off-balance. Host Chris Rock called Hollywood out on its racism and then sent his daughters out to sell Girl Scout cookies. The mood whipsawed from the shocking to the familiar and back again, often in the space of a few moments….” — LA Times
“…. Rock captured the genteel, liberal-world institutional racism most cogently when he joked, “Damn right Hollywood’s racist: a 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.”….” — Yahoo!
“…Anyone thinking Rock would slam the Academy’s voters alone probably has never listened to Rock’s stand-up: He looks for multiple sides of an issue, and multiple ways to make everyone uncomfortable. So he made fun of the protesters as well, pointing out that African-Americans didn’t protest similar “white-outs” in the ‘60s, because they were “too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer.” …..” — USA Today
“…Rock was unafraid of going to uncomfortable places, to his credit. The In Memoriam segment this year, he joked, would be a montage of black people shot by cops on their way to the movies. Mixed amid the awkward laughter were some “oohs,” but Rock, a skilled stand-up comic of remarkable dexterity, wasn’t fazed. …..” — Variety
“….Rock was hired long before the nominees list was announced, or even assembled. That his act might come across as too chaotic for some ears was a risk worth taking, and the degree to which it addressed what is wrong about the Oscars was worthwhile in itself. It’s tempting to hope that Rock will become the sort of Oscar host, like Billy Crystal or Bob Hope, who comes back year after year. But it’s a better thing to hope for, whether or not he comes back, that we won’t need him so urgently ever again……” — TIME
And with that, we have survived the Oscars, so fraught with angst, expectation and hand-wringing over that very uncomfortable topic of diversity. It lasted its usual three-and-a-half hours or so, with its usual highs and lows, but thankfully, the important bits survive in viral video perpetuity for all. Watch highlights of Chris Rock host of the Oscars in the clips below!
Pictures: PR Photos