Oscars 2016: Host Chris Rocks tackles race row head on with incisive jokes

COMEDIAN Chris Rock opened the 88th Academy Awards by poking fun about the Oscars race row which has marred this year's ceremony.

Comedian Chris Rock
Comedian Chris Rock

The host of this year’s event said: “I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards.

“You realise, if they nominated hosts I wouldn’t even get this job. You’d be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.”

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Addressing why this year had attracted so much criticism, he explained: “Now the thing is, while we’re protesting, the big questions is why this Oscars, why this Oscars? It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole no-black-nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times.

“You’ve got to figure, it happened in the 50s and 60s, you know the 60s, one of those years Sidney (Poitier) didn’t put out a movie. I’m sure there was no black nominees this year, say ‘62, ‘63, and black people did not protest. Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time.

“We had real things to protest, we were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer. When your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short.

“What happened this year, people went mad. Spike got mad. Jada went mad and Will went mad. Everyone went mad. Jada got mad, Jada said she’s not coming, protesting. I’m like, isn’t she on a TV show? Jada’s going to boycott the Oscar? 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’m not hating, I understand you’re mad. Jada’s mad: her man Will was not nominated for Concussion, I get it. It’s not mad that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. It’s also not fair that Will was paid 20 million dollars for Wild Wild West.”

He continued: “This year things are going to be a little different at the Oscars. This year in the ‘In Memorian’ it’s just going to be black people who were shot by the cops on their way to the movies. Yes, I said it.”

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Rock then reasoned how he would change the diversity issue in future years.

“If you want black nominees every year, you need to have black categories. You already do it with men and women. Think about it, there’s no real reason for there to be a men and women category in acting. There’s no reason. It’s not track and field. You don’t have to separate them. Robert De Niro’s never said ‘I better slow this acting down so Meryl Streep can catch up,’ no.

“If you want black people every year at the Oscars, just have black categories like best black friend. ‘And the winner for the 18th year in a row is Wanda Sykes’.”

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Addressing whether Hollywood was racist, he said: “You’re damn right Hollywood’s racist, but you’ve grown accustomed to it. Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, ‘We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa’. That’s Hollywood.

“But things are changing, we got a black Rocky this year. Some people call it Creed, I call it Black Rocky and that’s an unbelievable statement. Rocky takes place in a world where white athletes are as good as black athletes. Rocky’s a science-fiction movie. There are things that happened in Star Wars that are more believable than things that happened to Rocky.”

Rock claimed the greatest snub of the night had happened to Paul Giamatti.

“There’s a lot of snubs, but there’s a big one no one is talking about. My favourite actor in the world is Paul Giamatti. I believe he is the greatest actor in the world. Think about what Paul Giamatti has done in the last couple of years. Last year he’s in 12 Years A Slave, hates black people; this year he’s in Straight Outta Compton, loves black people. Last year he’s whipping Lupita; this year he’s crying at Eazy-E’s funeral. Now that’s range! Ben Affleck can’t do that.”

He continued: “What I’m trying to say is it’s not about boycotting everything, we want opportunity. We want the black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors. That’s it. Not just once. Leo (DiCaprio) gets a great part every year, you guys get great parts every year. Look at Jamie Foxx, he is one of the best actors in the world. Jamie Foxx was so good in Ray that they went to the hospital and unplugged the real Ray Charles, like, we don’t need two of these.”

He finished by tackling Oscars red carpet sexism instead: “Another big thing tonight is you’re not allowed to ask women what they’re wearing any more, it’s a whole thing, you have to ask her more... Well, not everything is sexism, not everything is racism.

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“They ask the men more because the men are all wearing the same outfits. Every guy in there is wearing the exact same thing. If George Clooney showed up with a lime green tux on and a swan coming out his ass, someone would go, ‘What you wearing, George?’”