Disclaimer: All opinions expressed in this post solely pertain to Chris Rock’s opening Oscar monologue. Due to the various skits and contrived recognition of “needing diversity” being shoved down everyone’s throats throughout the remainder of the awards show, I feel the intended impact fell on deaf ears. So I will not be touching on that.
Dear Chris Rock Shamers,
I could blame Jada for all of this. But the way this post is set up…
Let’s rewind back to November 30, 2015 when it was announced that famed comedian Chris Rock would be hosting the 88th Academy Awards. We rejoiced. Finally, the Oscars decided to add a little flavor! Rock symbolized the exciting incentive to what had become the year’s most mundane excruciating-to-watch awards show that could put you to sleep faster than the waves setting on your trusty sound machine.
But little did Chris Rock (and the world) know his new gig, would end up becoming the test of his entire career.
Fast forward to two months later when the Oscar nominees were announced. Will Smith was subjectively “snubbed” along with a slew of his black colleagues, so Jada Pinkett-Smith decided to shake up some things by creating a poignant video speaking of the Oscars and their exclusion of acknowledgement of black talent. And as a result she and Will, Spike, and Ava announced to boycott it, and all festivities surrounding it.
And where did that leave Chris?
Alone and left to fend for himself… High and dry in the middle of a SHIT.STORM of an #OscarsSoWhite controversy complete with the highest expectations on how he should’ve handled an already stressful position.
Some of you thought Rock should’ve quit his hosting duties to join in solidarity with his black counterparts. And while it’s oh so easy for any one of us regular, schmegular people (excuse my Cardi B reference), to sit from the sidelines and say “He should’ve boycotted with all of the black NON-NOMINEES”…..honestly can you please tell me how that would have benefited anyone?
It wouldn’t have. But yet instead of some of you seeing Rock’s hosting gig as the ultimate speaking platform in Jada
and them‘s absence, you decided to cast stones on Chris, someone who had a duty to fulfill, all because he wouldn’t join his colleagues in boycotting an event they weren’t obligated to show up to anyway.
And when Chris took a stand simply by opening his mouth, that’s when you ran a muck with it all.
“He took it too far,” you said.
“How dare he make fun of our ancestors getting hung? He disrespected our history.”
“He made a mockery of all of our real issues,” you proclaimed.
Even a very smart brotha by the name of Damon Young accused Rock of letting “White Hollywood off the hook” while pointing out that Rock’s jokes were better suited for a barbershop, game night, or any everyday run of the mill event where blacks were the majority.
Which leads me to question: How in the world did Chris let “White Hollywood off the hook” by highlighting the very issues blacks have, and were caused solely by the ancestors of those sitting in the Academy audience?
Better yet, how did Chris let them off the hook with anything he mentioned? From the more serious life threatening issues of police brutality and slavery, to the isolated industry issues, Chris Rock touched on sev-er-al of the pitfalls being black in America bring.
Rock even candidly admitted that the very industry that has supported his career for a quarter of the century, IS RACIST…TO THEIR FACES.
Pretty much the equivalent of you walking up to your boss to say he or she doesn’t care about black people.
But while Jada got applauded for peacefully opting out, Chris Rock got bashed for playing token black representative, placing the future of his career on the chopping block.
And as a result, Damon, and any of you who side with the smart brotha’s sentiment, sat with anguish of the contradictory nature — wanting Chris Rock to have somehow found what you deemed to be the “appropriate” balance of getting the point across, and slamming White Hollywood for their wrongdoings, all while avoiding crossing the lines (whatever those subjective lines may be).
But I challenge Damon and any of you to think of it this way:
IF YOU, AS A BLACK PERSON, WERE UNCOMFORTABLE BY CHRIS ROCK’S SPEECH, IMAGINE HOW UNCOMFORTABLE HIS WHITE AUDIENCE WAS.
So I wonder… Are you upset that within his speech directed at White Hollywood, you got caught in the crossfire and got a taste of the uneasiness? Are you angry because you didn’t like the feeling? If so, your defensive reaction is all too reminiscent of those who have tensely responded to any and all racial inequality issues with “#AllLivesMatter”.
I was not appalled by Chris Rock’s jokes. I was more shocked that so many of you who are thee most familiar with his off the cuff, in your face, blunt comedic style would all of a sudden choose to be offended by what you claim to be “his lack of sensitivity” to our culture’s issues like they don’t affect him too
… your reactions so heightened, you’d think you had experienced your ancestor’s slavery yourselves.
Which leads me to the realization that I am convinced that we as a people will never be satisfied. Because you see, the real issue isn’t Chris Rock’s jokes.
The real issue is us.
Because the fact of the matter is, it’s quite obvious that our black society has it’s priorities TWISTED AF, when in 2016 we are quick to praise and glorify a pop artist as if she were some Black Panther 2.0 for singing about having hot sauce in her bag, yet slander the comedian for staying true to himself, when placed in a unexpected complex situation.
If you were expecting Chris Rock to out of nowhere magically pull a “radical-conditionedness”-esque monologue out his ass a la Cornel West, then Yeezus save your soul. Because in essence what Chris did is no different than what Quentin Tarantino did in “Django Unchained”, a movie many of you enjoyed.
He painted the story of our wretched history in the most unapologetic way possible.
And if any of you Chris Rock shamers were offended by his words, I sympathize for you. Because while you are sitting in your feelings, I can only hope that there’s someone from that Academy audience who understood the message you were too busy being butt hurt about to let register. And we can only hope that said person not only looks at the industry with a new set of eyes, but has the accountability and connections to help evoke a change for the better.
P.S. And for the record, I take back my first sentence…
I do blame Jada.