How Chris rocked the Oscars boat

Chris Rock’s 10 minute monologue addressed structural racism in the best way possible.

Tim Seeberger, Writer

A cloud of controversy hovered over the 88th annual Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 28, in Hollywood. As stars walked the red carpet in their finest clothes, Rev. Al Sharpton led a protest  just outside of the Dolby Theater against the lack of diversity at the Oscars. Oddly enough, black comedian Chris Rock was inside, hosting the famed awards ceremony. And he addressed the issue perfectly in his opening monologue.

Attacking the issue Jokingly

Within 10 minutes, Rock addressed the problem in the best of ways by making the problem humorous. The lack of diversity, which drove prominent black figures in Hollywood such as Spike Lee and Will Smith to boycott the ceremony, seemed more approachable. In this short time, he managed to step over the lines of what is and is not acceptable on live television in a well-mannered fashion. He attacked the issue with a chip on his shoulder, not taking himself too seriously, yet pressing the problem with racial jokes. He captured racial tension in Hollywood perfectly.

The famed comedian explained how this issue is old news, joking this scenario has occurred “at least 71 times” out of the 88 years the awards ceremony has existed. He went further, stating nobody cared until now because black people had bigger issues to worry about such as segregation and deeply-rooted racism. The quote of the night was Rock saying, “When your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short.” He was splitting sides, yet splitting social norms at the same time.

Sorority Racism

Rock also presented the point that Hollywood does not enact the idea of racism we learned about in the ‘60s, but “sorority racism.” The ideology claims that although black actors and actresses are good, there is not a place for them in Hollywood. This thought-provoking ideology succinctly summarized the racial tension in Hollywood in a phrase. There exists a lack of diversity in entertainment because, although there are amazing actors like Jamie Foxx as Rock noted, there are no roles in Hollywood for people like Foxx.

Aside from Hollywood, Rock joked about other current social issues, such as police brutality. He inserted a pithy joke stating the “In Memorium” section of the ceremony would be filled with black people who were shot by cops on the way to movie theaters. He brought up an even deeper issue in America in this speech of social injustice in the best way possible.

A call for diversity

In the end, the monologue calls for diversity. Rock was able to butt heads with institutionalized racism found in studio executive offices and casting call rooms in just 10 minutes. The message from the speech is straightforward and needs hearing. It is a call to Hollywood that has waited to be picked up by many for years. As Rock said, “We want opportunity. We want the black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors. That’s it.”

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