Chris Rock Hosting The 2016 Oscars Is Great For Diversity, But There's Still More That Could Be Done
When it comes to awards shows, the Oscars are the cream of the crop, not only in the acting world, but just in Hollywood in general. They're the distinguished older sister of, well, every other award show there is, and they're the most enjoyable to watch. Not only do they celebrate the best in film (well, according to the Academy, anyway), but they also boast all of our favorite celebrities in one place — many of whom have hilariously wasted no time hitting up the free champagne. Generally, the awards have a comedian as host to keep the laughs flowing. This year is no different, as Chris Rock has signed on to host the 2016 Oscars, making it his second time hosting in the past 10 years (he originally hosted the 2005 ceremony). And, while it's great to have a person of color helming the Oscars, which has faced plenty of criticism of being notoriously whitewashed, I also have to wonder: can't we do even more to fix that?
Don't get me wrong. Chris Rock is at the top of the comedy game and has been for a while now, so my comment on wanting "more" has nothing to do with his ability to tell jokes effectively. The problem is that Rock the only person of color besides Whoopi Goldberg (who hosted in 1999 and 2002) to host the Oscars since 2001, and the fact that he is slated to host the awards ceremony again in 2016 makes me think it's time that the hosting diversity extends beyond the two of them and into, you know, picking some different celebrities.
Lupita Nyong'o, Idris Elba, Ava DuVernay, and Viola Davis could all do an amazing job as first-time hosts of color. If the Academy wants to stick to comedians, about about Kevin Hart, who's arguably the funniest stand-up comedian on the scene right now? For comparison, in the last 14 years, eight white hosts (Hugh Jackman, Ellen DeGeneres, Jon Stewart, Alec Baldwin, James Franco, Anne Hathaway, Seth MacFarlane, and Neil Patrick Harris) were given the chance to host the ceremony for the first time, compared to one first time host of color (Rock).
Of course, there's every reason to invite a host back for a second try if they did well the first time. However, Hollywood is full of an incredibly diverse and interesting group of entertainers, any number of whom would likely jump at the chance to helm the legendary awards show and would do a damn good job of it, too. For Goldberg and Rock, then, to be the only two entertainers of color to have hosted the show since 2001, for the three ceremonies hosted by entertainers of color in the last 14 years to be twice hosted by the same entertainer, and for Rock to be the only one of the two in that period who was getting to host the ceremony for the first time, doesn't make any sense.
There are far more than just white men (or even white women) out there dominating the industry, so why haven't they been considered for such a prestigious gig? No one looks to the Oscars as an example of a celebration of diversity, but show organizers have the opportunity to change that, to make the Academy Awards more inclusive of entertainers of all races, genders, sexualities, etc. Hopefully, they take that opportunity by following Rock's sure to be amazing gig in 2016 with another entertainer of color for the 2017 awards.