Chris Rock’s Hits and Misses as Host of the Oscars

Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars Feb. 28, 2016, in Hollywood, Calif. 
Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars Feb. 28, 2016, in Hollywood, Calif. 

Did people really tune into Sunday night’s Academy Awards to see if Leonardo DiCaprio would finally win an Oscar? Or did more tune in to watch Chris Rock skewer Hollywood and its lack of diversity? I’d bet it was the latter. And Rock did just that, even though there were a couple of bumps in the road.

When someone walks out onto the stage to “Fight the Power,” in front of a nearly all-white audience, you can tell that some s—t is about to go down. And right off the bat, Rock went CB4 and “I’m black, y’all” not only to the academy but to America.


“Man, I counted at least 15 black people on that montage. I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the ‘White People’s Choice Awards,’” Rock stated. “You realize, if they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job. So y’all would be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.”

Rock even mentioned that it was always unemployed people who suggested that he should boycott the award show.

But the most scathing part of Rock’s monologue came after a few jokes about Kevin Hart taking all of the movie roles from other black male actors. And I’d count it as the first bump.

Now, the thing is: Why are we protesting? The big question: Why this Oscars? Why this Oscars, you know?

It’s the 88th Academy Awards. It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole no-black-nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times. OK?

You gotta figure that it happened in the ’50s, in the ’60s—you know, in the ’60s, one of those years Sidney didn’t put out a movie. I’m sure there were no black nominees some of those years. Say, ’62 or ’63, and black people did not protest.

Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time, you know? We had real things to protest; you know, we’re too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer.

You know, when your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short.

This part of the monologue reminds me of those people who are always like, “Why are you worried about [blank] when [blank] is going on?” Nowadays, social media amplifies everything. Of course, people were upset that Hattie McDaniel wasn’t even allowed to sit at the same table with the other stars of Gone With the Wind, and she wasn’t even supposed to be in the famed Ambassador Hotel, where the 12th annual Academy Awards were held. I’m sure if Twitter had existed back then, there would have been tons of #HattieMcDaniel hashtags. And what, exactly, were the white people cheering about when he did that joke? 

One of the main people mentioned during Rock’s monologue about the Oscar boycott was Jada Pinkett Smith, and being the rabble-rouser that he is, Rock bit into Pinkett Smith really hard.

Jada got mad? Jada says she not coming, protesting. I’m like, ain’t she on a TV show?

Jada is going to boycott the Oscars—Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.

Oh, that’s not an invitation I would turn down.

But I understand, I’m not hating. I understand you mad. Jada’s mad her man Will was not nominated for Concussion. I get it, I get it.

Tell the truth. I get it, I get it. You get mad—it’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated.

Yeah, you’re right. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West. OK?


Talk about a burn. Somewhere, the Smiths were probably laughing, but Pinkett Smith is about to get that Facebook post fired up later this morning. Watch.

Within Rock’s almost 15-minute monologue, he blatantly pointed out that, yes, Hollywood is indeed racist. As if the room didn’t realize that. But being the beneficiaries of racism isn’t such a hard thing to do when you get to act in a movie with a robotic bear and get an Oscar nomination.

But here’s the real question. The real question everybody wants to know, everybody wants to know in the world, is: Is Hollywood racist? Is Hollywood racist? 

You know, that’s a … you gotta go at that at the right way.

Is it burning-cross racist? No.

Is it fetch-me-some-lemonade racist? No. No, no, no.


That’s right. 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.

But things are changing. Things are changing.

The reactions varied throughout social media and among the looks on the audience members’ faces. Some were in awe, some didn’t know if they should laugh and others just sat there with the “I just sucked a sour lemon” look on their faces.


And this is why Rock was chosen. The academy knew he would be the one person to address the lack of diversity head on and make people feel uncomfortable. But it’s the academy that should feel the most uncomfortable of all. The irony of actually paying someone to bully you is just hilarious.

Then there was the other bump that came shortly after Rock’s long monologue. Everyone’s favorite anti-black black person, Stacey Dash, was brought onstage. And, of course, people in the audience didn’t exactly get that joke. Well, except for the Weeknd.


Rock introduced Dash as the “new director” of the academy’s “minority outreach program.”

Dash, with her ever-present shiny face, then came out onto the stage.

“I cannot wait to help my people out,” Dash announced. “Happy Black History Month!”


You know why that joke failed? Because those people in the audience, besides the Weeknd, probably thought Rock wasn’t even joking. And most were like, “Who the hell is Stacey Dash?”

Other highlights of the show included Rock going out to the streets of Compton, Calif., and surveying people about the movie nominations. Of course they had no clue about the movies other than Straight Outta Compton.


Since it’s Black History Month, there was also going to be some sort of tribute. It wasn’t the tribute people expected, though. But who cares? Angela Bassett looked amazing.

And if there’s one group of people who are happy that Rock hosted the Oscars, it’s his daughters. Rock used being in a room filled with white people to his advantage and sold about $65,000 worth of Girl Scout cookies!


In the end, Rock’s monologue and other jokes through the night may not have been perfect, but no one’s jokes ever are. But what Rock and his team of writers did is what they do best. They made people feel uncomfortable. They made people think. They also made people ask, “Wait, was that the chick from Clueless?”