01 Mar Why Boycott The Oscar?
I would like to add my two cents to the Chris Rock monologue controversy. For me, he missed the mark in his monologue and missed the opportunity to shed light on the real problem of exclusion of black people and people of color in Hollywood. Many people have commented that as long as his monologue was funny nothing else mattered. I disagree. Being a comic, I know making people laugh is the bare minimum of comedy. But when you’re a good or great comic you express a viewpoint within your comedy. Chris Rock has always done that. His comedy sets are simply persuasive speeches with jokes included. So as a viewer, you can be entertained by a joke and still agree or disagree with the premise behind the joke.
There are two premises that bothered me.
The first, when he speculated on the timing of the boycott.
“Now the thing is, why we protesting?
That’s the big question.Why this Oscars?”
In all of the 88 years the Oscars have been going on, why now? he queried. He then contrasted that question, with the 50’s and 60’s era Black struggle for civil rights, when there were no protest of the Oscars.
“And black people did not protest.
Because we had real things to protest at the time.”
Comparing the struggle of the civil rights movements to that of the boycott of the Oscars infers that any protests, that doesn’t involve securing our immediate physical safety is a petty matter.
I feel a better question, would have been:
“Why not now?”
It’s 2016, and POC are still fighting for inclusion in Hollywood. The truth is the civil rights movement, blacklivesmatter and boycott of the Oscars are branches of the same tree: The fight for equality.The blackout at the Oscars is indicative of what’s happening in Flint and Ferguson. The same system that doesn’t hire black talent in their movies, is the same system that willfully and stubbornly neglects to see black people as equals, therefore this system can easily dismiss us from acting roles, our civil liberties and our right to exist.
Secondly, I was disappointed with Chris’s choice to throw Jada and Will Smith under the bus.
“Jada says she’s not coming.
Protesting. I’m like, “Isn’t she on a TV show?”Jada’s gonna boycott the Oscars? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rhianna’s panties.
I wasn’t invited.”
His contention that Jada’s status as a tv actor, somehow invalidates her right to boycott a MOVIE awards show. She is an actor. She has a vested interest in wanting the equitable distribution of opportunity in her chosen field of endeavor. Who doesn’t want equality at their workplace? And the joke directed at Will Smith was a backhanded “STFU”!
“I get it. You get mad. Said it’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. You’re right. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for ‘Wild Wild West,’ OK?”
This implies Will Smith is too rich to protest an unfair system, without the context of most of the white people in the room were rich. Does Will, as a black man have to feel somehow beholden and satisfied because of his wealth and success but not the other (white) people in the room? What does his wealth matter? Shouldn’t every actor whether rich or poor, black or white be given the opportunity to be the best actor they can be?
There were funny moments in the monologue that I enjoyed. The jokes about women on the red carpet, “AskHerMore” and the summation and answer to the question, “Is Hollywood racist?” were extremely funny and standout premises
But overall, Chris Rock’s monologue’s implications were basically, “boycotting the Oscars is petty. Things are changing. Let’s just wait it out”
But during a time when POC are still fighting racism, institutionalize racism and fighting changes and policy changes within these systems, even with all the laughter Chris provided throughout the night, it was still a disturbing message to send.
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