Since an all-white spate of acting nominees was announced in January, many have been anticipating not whether, but how host Chris Rock would address the issues of diversity and inclusion in his opening Oscar monologue. As expected, Rock did not shy away from the topic. “Is Hollywood racist?” he asked rhetorically. His answer: “Damn right, Hollywood’s racist.”
Rock said that the kind of racism he has encountered in Hollywood isn’t the “burning cross” kind, but a more insidious beast he referred to as “sorority racist.” He also explained why he decided to host despite calls for him to boycott the show, saying that they were going to hold the event whether he attended or not, and “the last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart.”
The host also called out some of the actors who have been vocal in the call for a boycott, including Jada Pinkett Smith, whom he suggested was only upset because her husband, Will Smith, was not nominated for his performance in Concussion, and who, he suggested, wouldn’t have been invited to the event even if she had wanted to attend.
Jokes aside, Rock’s ultimate message was clear. “We want black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors, that’s it,” he said. “Not just once.”
Read the full text of Rock’s monologue below:
I’m here at the Academy Awards — otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards. You realize if they nominated host, I wouldn’t even get this job — y’all would be watching Neil Patrick Harris. This is the wildest, craziest Oscars to ever host because we’ve got all this controversy — no black nominees, you know? And people are like, ‘Chris, you should boycott. Chris you should quit. You should quit. How come it’s only unemployed people who tell you to quit something? No one with a job ever tells you to quit. I thought about quitting. I thought about it real hard, but I realized they’re going to have to Oscars anyway. They’re not going to cancel the Oscars because I quit. And the last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart, OK? I don’t need that. Kevin makes movies fast!
The big question, why this Oscars? It’s the 88th Academy Awards. 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 it happened in the ’50s, in the ’60s, one of those years Sidney [Poitier] didn’t pull out a movie. I’m sure there were no black nominees one of those years, say ’62 or ’63, and black people did not protest. Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time. We had real things to protest. We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer. When your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about Best Documentary Short. But what happened this year? What happened? People went mad, Spike [Lee] got mad and Jada [Pinkett Smith] went mad and Will [Smith] got mad, everybody went mad. Jada got mad? Jada said she’s not coming, protesting, and I’m like, isn’t she on a TV show? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties: I wasn’t invited. It’s not an invitation I would turn down. But I understand. I’m not hating. Jada’s mad her man Will wasn’t nominated for Concussion. I get it. It’s not fair that Will was this good and not nominated. Yeah, you’re right. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West.
This year things are going to be a little different. Things are going to be a little different at the Oscars. 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. If you want black nominees every year, you need to just have black categories. That’s what you need. You need to have black categories. You already do it with men and women. Think about it, there’s no reason to have a men and women category in acting. There’s no reason. It’s not track and field; you don’t have to separate them. Robert De Niro has never said, “I’ve got to slow this acting down so Meryl Street can catch up.” If you want black people at the Oscars, just add black categories like “Best black friend.'”That’s right, and the winner for the 18th year in a row is Wanda Sykes. This is Wanda’s 18th black Oscar.
But the real question everyone in the world wants to know is “Is Hollywood racist?” You know, you gotta go at that the right way. Is it burning cross racist? No. Is it “let’s have some lemonade” racist? No. It’s a different type of racist. I remember one night I was at a fundraiser for President Obama; a lot of you were there. It’s me and all of Hollywood, and all of us there, and there’s about four black people there — me, Quincy Jones, Russell Simmons, Questlove, you know, the usual suspects — and every black actor that wasn’t working. Needless to say, Kev Hart wasn’t there. You get a little moment with the president, and as they’re setting up the picture, you get like a little moment with the president, and I’m like, “Mr. President, you see all these writers and producers? They don’t hire black people, and they’re the nicest white people on earth, they’re liberals — cheese!”
Is Hollywood racist? Damn right Hollywood’s racist, a racist that you’ve grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, “We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.” That’s how Hollywood is. But things are changing. We’ve 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. Rocky is a science-fiction movie. There’s things that happen in Star Wars that are more believable than things that happen in Rocky.
But we’re here to honor actors, we’re here to honor film. There are a lot of snubs. One of the biggest snubs, no one’s talking about. My favorite actor in the world is Paul Giamatti. Think about what Paul Giamatti has done in the last couple of years. Last year he was in 12 Years a Slave, hates black people; this year he is in Straight Outta Compton, loves black people. Last year he’s whipping Lupita [Nyong’o], this year he’s crying at Eazy-E’s funeral. Now that’s range. Ben Affleck can’t do that. It’s not about boycotting anything, it’s just we want opportunity. We want the black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors, that’s it. Not just once. Leo [DiCaprio] gets a great part every year. All of you guys get great parts all the time. But what about the black actors? What about Jamie Foxx? 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. “We don’t need two of these!” Naw man. Everything is not about race.
Another big thing tonight is, you’re not allowed to ask women what they’re wearing anymore. “Ask her more.” You have to ask her more. Everything is not sexism, everything is not racism. They ask the men more because the men are all wearing the same outfit. Every guy is wearing the exact same thing. If George Clooney showed up with a lime green tux on, and a swan coming out his ass, somebody would go, “What you wearing, George?” Welcome to the 88th Oscars, Academy Awards. Yes, thank you. You want diversity? We got diversity. Please welcome Emily Blunt, and somebody white, Charlize Theron.
- Inside Mississippi's Last Abortion Clinic—and the Biggest Fight for Abortion Rights in a Generation
- Do Current COVID-19 Tests Still Detect Omicron?
- The First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Could Be a Lifeline for Struggling New England Cities
- Welcome to TV's Era of Peak Redundancy
- The Key Role a Local Newspaper Played in the Trial Over Ahmaud Arbery's Murder
- TIME's Top 100 Photos of 2021
- 2021: The Year the Grift Kept Giving