Chris Rock: It's About Opportunity

Chris Rock didn't disappoint as the host of this year's Academy Awards. His monologue focused on the question of racism, as expected for the second-year-in-row, all-white slate of nominees. 

Early on, Rock welcomed the crowd to the ceremony, "otherwise known as the White People's Choice awards." He also addressed his own critics directly by explaining why he didn't boycott. He concluded that the issue is about fairness: "We want opportunity. We want the black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors. That's it." 

In addition to the ten-minute monologue, jokes and parodies about #OscarsSoWhite continued throughout the night from Rock and other actors.

As the cameras panned the audience, we saw some awkward reactions. People seemed uncomfortable with some of the jokes, not quite sure whether they were funny or whether they should laugh.

One joke, about Asians, didn't go over well at all. Rock introduced "accountants" to the stage: three Asian children (one with a Jewish surname), dressed in suits. Mee Moua, of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, explained,

"Last night's ceremony, and particularly the 'joke' involving Asian children, which played off more than one damaging stereotype of Asians and Asian Americans, exposed one of the failings of how we talk about race in America: race relations are not a black-white binary," she said.

"It is to all of our detriment to look at race narrowly. We need to work together to dismantle the systems that devalue the experiences of minority groups so we can see the tales of the diversity that have shaped our nation reflected accurately."

Actress Constance Wu also weighed in.

Constance Wu tweet


Discussion Starters:

  • What, if any, impact do you think Rock's performance will have on the Academy?
  • What's your view of the accountant joke?
  • How do you explain the audience's reactions at times? Consider how actors responded to some of the jokes.