Chris Rock Hits #OscarsSoWhite Boycotts and Racism in Hollywood in Explosive Opening Monologue
The host packed plenty of zingers into his Academy Awards 2016 opening monologue, joking of the opening montage, "I counted at least 15 black people on that montage!"
"I'm here 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. You all would be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now," Rock said.
He addressed calls that he should have stepped down from hosting, saying that wasn't in the cards for him.
"No one with a job every tells you to quit. I thought about quitting … but I realized they are going to have the Oscars anyway … the last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart," said Rock.
He also questioned why this awards ceremony was subject to such scrutiny out of the Academy's long history. "It's the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole 'no black nominees thing' has happened at least 71 other times," said Rock.
Rock went on to mock the #OscarsSoWhite protest, saying African Americans did not protest the Oscars in the '50s and '60s because they had "real things to protest at the time."
"Jada [Pinkett Smith] boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna's panties. I wasn't invited," he continued, before noting that while it was unfair that Will Smith was not nominated for Concussion, "it's also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West."
Rock also answered a question he said on everyone's mind: "Is the Academy racist?"
"Is it burning cross racist? No ... It's a different type of racist," Rock said, concluding "Hollywood is sorority racist. 'We like you Rhonda, but you're not a Kappa.' "
Rock said Hollywood's African American community simply wants equal opportunities.
"We want black actors to get the same opportunities. That's it. Not just once. Leo [DiCaprio] gets a great part every year … what about the black actors?" asked rock. "What about Jaime Fox? … Jaime Fox was so good in Ray that they went to the hospital and unplugged the real Ray Charles. 'We don't need to of these.' "
Rock's monologue was highly anticipated in a year in which diversity within the Academy ranks has been highly scrutinized. After an outcry following an all-white acting slate of nominees for the second year in a row, the Academy announced it would be enacting a "sweeping series of substantive changes" in order to increase diversity within its voting bodies.
Backstage, Rock got a rave review from Adam McKay, who won for his screenplay for The Big Short.
"I thought it was great," McKay told reporters in the press room. "I thought it was jabbing at Hollywood and at the same time even-handed and kind of dealing with a new era of how we discuss diversity. I thought it was very even handed and really impressive and really funny."
Ahead of the ceremony, Rock tweeted a picture of himself fine tuning the monologue.
Rock, 51, previously hosted the Oscars in 2005.