Did Chris Rock the Stage?


Editor’s Note: This is an opinion editorial piece.


The much-anticipated 88th Academy Awards has been stirring up controversy for weeks, leading celebrities and citizens alike to voice their opinions on the diversity of the nominees for this year’s awards ceremony. With stars like Will and Jada Pinkett Smith boycotting the event entirely, there was no question that the issue had to be addressed – but did it go too far?

I applaud you, Chris Rock, for making me feel entirely too uncomfortable for a three and a half hour occasion. The host and the various other celebrities that played their part in Sunday’s show took it too far. The opportunity to address race in Hollywood was present and open for business, but those who discussed it grabbed it by the handles and took it beyond a point of no return.

The discomfort began at the very opening of the show, when Chris Rock’s monologue turned into what I would call a “rant.” Every sentence he spoke was concentrated around the racial controversy, and not only was I stunned silent on my living room sofa, but even celebrities in the audience were soft-spoken. From the lack of clapping, to the strained smiles in close-ups, no one quite knew how to react. How could they react to that?

As the night continued, the jokes and mockery carried on. After quite some time, I was compelled to turn off the station entirely (but I knew I had to watch the entire show to see Leo win).

Should the stirring race controversy that caused headlines be addressed at some point during the show? Yes. Undoubtedly, yes. Had it been avoided, the strain would have been even tenser. Yet, what Rock and several others successfully achieved was an overshadowing of the true purpose of the night – to celebrate great film. No longer could I have been concerned with what film won Best Picture, or which cinematographer took home that golden statue because my screen was flooded only with commentary on the lack of diversity. The winners weren’t being celebrated and the nominees weren’t acknowledged. In fact, it felt as though they were being belittled – like they were only nominated because they fit the racial stereotype.

The most redeeming member of this act was Kevin Hart. Although even he didn’t have to address the issue, at least he approached it with ease and professionalism. Yes, there was a lack of diversity and actors of colors could and should be acknowledged and celebrated. But it is just one awards night, and the Academy Awards does not truly determine the value of an actor and his/her work. So thank you, Kevin Hart, for bringing us back to the purpose of the show – to celebrate great film.

There is no debate that the racial controversy should have been addressed in Sunday’s ceremony. But Chris Rock and various other celebrities took it way too far. It was uncomfortable, irritable, and downright unnecessary. Don’t make the controversy the star of the show. That’s what the golden guy is for.


For an alternative view, see Jamie Spelling’s article: The Grey Area of a Black and White Issue