Although the vast majority of Chris Rock's time onstage during the 2016 Oscars was dedicated to calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity and equality for women, not all of his jokes were quite as progressive. While talking about the film Carol, which stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as two women who begin an illicit affair in the 1950s, Rock joked that it was just the third best "girl-on-girl" movie he'd seen all year. It was meant to be a lighthearted joke referring to his, um, viewing habits, but what it actually was was an unnecessary line that reduced Carol to a total cliche.
As those who saw the Oscar-nominated film can attest, Carol is a compelling, complicated romantic drama that deals with its serious subject matter — sexuality, discrimination, women's rights — in an equally serious way. The fact that it depicts a lesbian romance is hugely important and central to its plot, as the movie is set in a time when the characters' romance was not considered acceptable or, when it came to Carol's guardianship of her child, even legal. For a movie to take on such a topic is highly commendable, considering how few LGBT-focused stories are told on-screen, and its importance cannot be understated. So for Rock, when talking about the movie, to dismiss it as a "girl-on-girl" story is pretty disappointing.
Many viewers were annoyed by his comment, expressing their frustration with Rock that he would make such a joke about the movie.
While the rest of Rock's quotes from the Oscars aren't nearly as disappointing — many of them are truly funny and shine a light on important subjects — it's still aggravating that he'd choose to stoop so low when discussing a movie as essential and groundbreaking as Carol. Hopefully, it's the only joke made at the expense of the movie — and LGBT-focused stories —on Sunday night.