Since the nominations for this year’s Oscars were announced, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences came under blistering fire yet again for the lack of diversity in the major categories. There were grumblings in the black community in particular, with Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee boycotting the ceremony.
But host Chris Rock soon became the focus of the immediate conversation: how should he bring up the issue of diversity? Well, he did it the only way he knows how: loudly, resolutely, and hysterically.
Rock didn’t skewer the Academy, necessarily—he directed his brash barbs more toward the people boycotting the Oscars and those who demanded he step down as host. One of the most evocative points Rock made was how protesting the Oscars should be the least concern for minorities, suggesting that causes like the Black Lives Matter movement are more worthy of attention.
Here are some of Rock’s first-degree burns:
"This is wildest, craziest Oscars to ever host because we got all this controversy: no black nominees! And people are like, ‘Chris, you should boycott—you should quit!’ How come it’s only unemployed people that tell you to quit something?"
"I’m sure there were no black nominees some of those years, ’62, ’63. And black people did not protest. Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time. [We were] too busy being raped and synched 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."
"Jada boycotting the oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties: I wasn’t invited."
"This year in the memoriam package, it’s just gonna be black people that were shot by the cops on their way to the movies?"
"Everybody wants to know: Is Hollywood racist. You gotta go at that the right way: Is it burning cross racist? No. Is it fetch me some lemonade racist? No … You’re damn right Hollywood’s racist … Hollywood is sorority racist: It’s like, 'We like you, Rhoda—but you’re not a Kappa.’"
"It’s not about boycotting anything—it’s we want opportunity. We want the black actors to get the same opportunities—that’s it."