Chris Rock Swings for Fences, Mostly Misses at This Year’s #OscarsSoWhite

By Sameer Rao Feb 29, 2016

After weeks of anticipation, viewers were waiting to see Chris Rock’s opening monologue for this year’s #OscarsSoWhite. Surely he would kick off the night with memorable jokes and be the perfect host for a ceremony widely criticized for its erasure of voices of color. Chalk it up to unrealistic expectations or a boring room, but Rock ultimately delivered a performance with far more misses than hits.

The monologue featured a few notable swipes directly at the controversy surrounding the show, though the audience mostly appeared to be uninterested or uncomfortable when Rock said things like, "If they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t get this job," and "Hollywood is sorority racist. ‘We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa!’" And later in the show, he introduced hilarious bits that could would have been right at home on his acclaimed HBO show of long ago, "The Chris Rock Show." A highlight was a "Black History Month Minute" sketch with Angela Bassett that seemed to be about Will Smith—who famously boycotted the Oscars—but proved to actually be about Jack Black.

But Rock mostly landed on tone-deaf and antiquated jokes throughout the night. The mostly White audience looked confused after he brought out Fox News talking head Stacey Dash to say "Happy Black History Month" weeks after she famously said that the month was unecessary. And there was a sketch featuring Asian kids working as accountants that was perhaps the only real inclusion of Asian people during the entire ceremony.

Rock’s uneven performance was the only noteworthy part of an otherwise boring and entirely predictable ceremony. But what did you think? Let us know in the comments.