Host Chris Rock came out swinging in his opening monologue for the 88th Academy Awards, which is facing criticism for exclusively nominating white people to the top four acting award categories.
The comedian said some had suggested he boycott the awards show. “I thought about quitting,” he said. “I thought about it real hard. But I realized, they’re gonna have the Oscars anyway. They’re not going to cancel the Oscars because I quit.”
He pointed out that Hollywood racism is far from new. In the past, he said, black people were “too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer.”
The whole speech, which the New York Times transcribed (paywall), is both hilarious and insightful, and it set the tone for the awards show. The jokes about racism keep coming, including a gag video inserting black celebrities into nominated movies (picture Tracy Morgan in The Danish Girl), and another cheeky spot in which the actor Angela Bassett offers a Black History Month tribute to the white actor Jack Black. And Rock didn’t miss opportunities for smaller digs too, like when he introduced Creed actor Michael B. Jordan as a ”shoulda-been nominee.”