Chris Rock's 2016 Oscars Monologue Transcript Shows That While He Addressed #OscarsSoWhite, He Left Out Some Diversity Himself
Two days before he was set to host the 2016 Oscars, Chris Rock tweeted an extremely cryptic message that seemed to reference the lack of diversity amongst this year's Academy Awards nominees. Or maybe it wasn't commentary on #OscarsSoWhite at all — it was really so vague that it's hard to tell. The tweet included a 15 second video of television static with the caption, "See you Sunday... #blackout #oscars." I love a good ellipses as much as the next guy, but throw us a bone here, Chris! Would this mean that he'd be making a political statement in his opening monologue? Would it mean that the show wouldn't air at all and thus save me a lot of time, but also bring less Leo Oscar joy into our lives?
Well, the latter definitely wasn't the case. The show went on and Rock did host (there actually was some doubt on this point for at least a little while: there were calls from some that he step down in light of the diversity issues), and he did talk about #OscarsSoWhite in his opening monologue, which is not at all surprising considering how major a topic race has been to Rock's standup, television and film work, and in writing such as in his 2014 piece for The Hollywood Reporter. Still, the way Rock chose to address the topic in his monologue didn't hold back — but it did miss a major opportunity.
The first thing the comedian said when he came out on stage was, "I counted at least 15 black people in that montage," in reference to the movies of 2015 montage that aired to introduce the show. For Rock, the monologue wasn't a couple comments about race here and there with a bunch of jokes about the nominees being the main focus; this entire monologue was about diversity in Hollywood, which was a fantastic choice considering that the whiteness of the nominations has been easily the biggest conversation going into the awards this year.
Unfortunately, while the Top Five star made comment after comment that were both on point and hilarious, he missed an opportunity when it came to addressing diversity in a way that wasn't literally black and white. Rock's monologue was about black actors not being nominated and not being given as many opportunities in Hollywood. As he said, "We want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities." And as black actor himself, it's natural that he would talk from his own experience first. (As a half-black writer, my immediate inclination is to do the same.) But considering this was a speech for the biggest award show of the year that no doubt had a lot of thought put into it, I found it somewhat surprising that there was no mention of other races and ethnicities that were not nominated, the lack of which also made the Oscars "so white" this year. Not only were no black actors nominated, but no Latino, Asian, biracial, Native American (the list goes on, but you get the idea) actors were nominated either. In what was a long monologue, there were plenty of chances to mention this as well, but it didn't happen.
The monologue was still great, don't get me wrong. But it could have been elevated, and appreciated by so many more people on a more personal level, if it hadn't left out diversity in a way itself. Check out the transcript of Rock's monologue below:
Man, I counted at least 15 black people on that montage. Hey, we are at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards. You realize, if they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job. Y’all would be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now. Here’s the crazy thing. This is the wildest, craziest Oscars to ever host, because we’ve got all of this controversy. No black nominees. People are like, "Chris, you should boycott." How come it’s only unemployed people that tell you to quit something? No one with a job ever tells you to quit. I thought about quitting, I thought about it really hard. But I realized, they’re going to have it anyway. They’re not going to cancel because I quit. And the last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart. Kevin makes movies fast… porno stars don’t make movies that fast.
The thing is, why are we protesting this Oscars. That’s the big question. 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 that it happened in the '50s, in the '60s. One of those years, Sidney didn’t put out a movie, I’m sure there were no black nominees those years. And black people did not protest. Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time. They were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer. When your grandmother is 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 and… Jada went mad, Will went mad. Jada got mad, says she’s not coming. I’m like… isn’t she on a TV show? Jada is going to boycott the Oscars? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited! I get it, Jada is mad…your man was turned down, I get it. It’s not fair that will was this good and didn’t get nominated, I get it. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West.
This year, at the Oscars, things are going to be a little different. This year in the in memoriam package, it’s just going to be black people that were shot by the cops on their way to the movies. Yes I said it, alright. You want black nominees every year, you need to just have black categories. You already do it with men and women, think about it. There is no real reason for there to be a man and a woman category in acting. It’s not track and field. You don’t have to separate them. You know, Robert De Niro has never said, "I’d better slow this acting down so Meryl Streep can catch up." 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. This is Wanda’s 18th Black Oscar."
But here is the real question everyone in the world wants to know: Is Hollywood racist? ... Is it fetch me some lemonade racist? No, it’s a different type of racist. I remember one night, I was at a fundraiser for President Obama. And it was me, and all of Hollywood. And there were about four black people there. Me, Questlove, Russell Simmons, the usual suspects. And every black actor that wasn’t working. Needless to say, Kevin Hart wasn’t there. So at some point, you get to take a picture with the President. You get a little moment with the President. I’m like, "Mr. President, you see all these writers, actors, and producers? They don’t hire black people. And they’re the nicest white people on Earth, they’re liberals."
Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right Hollywood is racist. Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, "We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa." 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 because Rocky takes place in a world where white athletes are as good as black athletes. So Rocky is a science fiction movie. There are things that happened in Star Wars that are more believable than Rocky.
We are here to honor actors… there are a lot of snubs. My favorite actor is Paul Giamatti. Paul Giamatti is the greatest actor in the world. Think about what he has done in the last few years. Last year, he is in 12 Years A Slave and hates black people. This year, he loves black people. That’s range ...
It’s not about boycotting anything, it’s just, we want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors. That’s it. And not just once. Leo gets a great part every year. But what about the black actors? Jamie Foxx 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. It’s like, "We don’t need two of these." Everything is not about race, man. Another big thing tonight is, you’re not allowed to ask women what they’re wearing anymore. It’s a whole thing: "ask her more." You have to "ask her more." It’s like, you ask the men more. Everything is not sexism, everything is not racism. They ask the men more because the men are wearing the same outfits. Every guy is wearing the exact same thing. If George Clooney showed up with a lime green tux and a swan coming out of his ass, someone would go, "Hey, what you wearing George?"
Welcome to the 88th Academy Awards. You want diversity, we got diversity! Please welcome Emily Blunt, and somebody whiter, Charlize Theron!
Image: Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle