Host Chris Rock came out swinging to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” Sunday night at the Oscars. Then he immediately welcomed everyone to “White People’s Choice Awards.”
The jabs kept coming:
▪ “If they voted for hosts, you’d be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now.”
▪ “This year, in the in memoriam package, it’s just going to be black people that were shot on their way to the movies.”
▪ “Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, we like you Rhonda. But you’re not a Kappa.”
▪ On the lack of black Academy Awards nominees during ceremonies in the 1950s and ’60s: “When your grandmother is swinging from a tree it’s really hard to care about best documentary for a foreign short.”
▪ “All we’re asking for is opportunity. We want the same opportunities everybody else gets. Not every blue moon, but every year.”
Black Twitter was mad that Rock took a shot at Jada Pinkett Smith (it was a little harsh considering her statements were poignant and helped jumpstart the conversation), made a sex joke at Rihanna’s expense (I thought it was funny) and brought out the beautiful but terribly ignorant Stacey Dash (I boo her every single time). There’s also some discontent at his dismissiveness toward protesting. But I think he made it clear that there is a problem in Hollywood.
More of my thoughts on the awards broadcast:
▪ Bringing out Stacey Dash was a miss. Her making light of her own misguided comments dismissing the importance of Black History Month can never be funny. And that Jack Black homage was all kinds of wacky. But Rock talking to moviegoers in Compton was funny, smart and it finally addressed diversity not just for blacks in Hollywood, but people of color in the industry, period. Amen.
▪ Let’s keep it real. The Weeknd was there because “50 Shades of Grey” was so bad we all had to see it to love hating it, and that song was our consolation prize. We earned it.
I’m a full-fledged fan girl for “Star Wars” droid BB-8. I might have screamed like a rabid tween at a One Direction concert when he rolled onto that Oscars stage. I’m going to let you finish, R2-D2 and C-3PO, but BB-8 is my favorite droid of all time. And we all know even though “Ex Machina” won, “Star Wars” should have had that special effects award on lock.
▪ There is no acceptance speech without shout-outs. I know the Academy Awards were all about that scrolling ticker to help cut down on long monologues but get real. If you finally made it to the Oscars and had your moment on stage, you’d be thanking everyone from your mama to your dog and God, too.
▪ It’s not enough to just listen and agree. We must take action, said president Cheryl Boone Isaacs. Then she delivered a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Let’s hope more people rise to the occasion and take a stand for inclusion in the industry.
▪ I’m always going to line up for Thin Mints and Caramel deLites, but the Girl Scouts bit felt like something Ellen left on the cutting room floor when she hosted in 2014. I have to admit, it’s cute to see Chris Rock celebrate his daughters and make them a big part of his big night. And selling cookies to benefit the Girl Scouts (Did they really raise over $65,000 during the telecast?) does way more good than buying pizza for the crowd.
▪ I knew Vice President Joe Biden and Lady Gaga were going to make an impact and advocate for survivors of sexual assault. “We must and we can change the culture so that no abused woman or man ever have to feel they have to ask themselves what did I do? They did nothing wrong,” Biden declared. He made us all responsible for intervening when we know consent has not been given. And Lady Gaga delivered a soulful performance of “Til It Happens To You,” joined by survivors on stage, their arms baring statements like “It happened to me.,” “You are not alone” and “Survivor.” We all must take the pledge at ItsOnUs.org. And apparently, we all are as the site crashed as soon as it was plugged.
▪ Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes won best original songfor Spectre’s “Writings On the Wall” from the James Bond film “Spectre.” Dapper Sam took the opportunity to make a beautiful and important stand. He said he read an article that said no openly gay man had ever won an Oscar. “If this is the case — even if this isn’t the case — I want to dedicate this to the LGBT community all around the world,” he said. “I stand here tonight as a proud gay man and I hope we can all stand together as equals one day.”
▪ Movie the Oscars made us want to see: “A Girl In The River: The Price of Forgiveness.” Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won the best short documentary award for her film on honor killings in Pakistan. “This is what happens when determined women get together,” Obaid-Chinoy said as she held her Oscar. She ended her speech powerfully by saying “This week the Pakistani Prime Minister said he will change the law on honor killings after watching this film. That is the power of film.”
Jenee Osterheldt, The Star
Hang in there, young people
“Inside Out,” which won best animated film, is a testament to the power of animation and its ability to reach all ages with poignant messages.
But Pixar needs to stop trolling us for tears.
Even in accepting their Oscars, filmmakers Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera couldn’t keep from squeezing our hearts until they hurt so good.
“Anyone out there who is in junior high, high school working it out, suffering, there are days when you are going to feel sad, you’re going to feel angry you’re going to feel scared,” Docter said. “That’s nothing you can choose. But you can make stuff. Make films, draw, write stuff. It will make a world of difference.”
Jenee Osterheldt, The Star
Not ‘Short’ on opinions
Adam McKay, who won best adapted screenplay with Charles Randolph for “The Big Short,” thanked “Paramount for taking a risk on a movie that’s about financial esoterica and believing in it.”
McKay didn’t stop there.
“If you don’t want big money to control government,” he said. “Don’t vote for candidates that take money from big banks, oil or weirdo billionaires: Stop!”
Backstage, McKay told the Hollywood Reporter his comments weren’t directed at any particular candidate.
“That was the amazing thing about this moviem,” he said. “Bill O'Reilly and Bernie Sanders both support this movie. It is not right or left. Big money has taken over this government. Just Google it. You can see what the candidates have been paid.”
David Frese, The Star
A carefully orchestrated pre-game
ABC seemed to be working hard to fight #OscarsSoWhite in the Oscars opening show.
The network spent some heavy moments with Louis Gossett Jr. and Kevin Hart and counted on hosts Michael Strahan and Robin Roberts to scout for diversity.
They didn’t seem to be backstage to get behind the scenes; it’s more like they were scouting for people of color. Robin gave a shout-out to Quincy Jones, and Michael made sure to say hello to Kerry Washington. The cameras are even lingering on random seat fillers. It’s like ABC is trying not to get roasted by the power of Black Twitter.
(But Robin, you really didn’t ask Whoopi Goldberg about that tweet Total Beauty sent confusing her for Oprah earlier? Come on, Robin. We needed to talk about that, boo.)
Jenee Osterheldt, The Star