Mitchell: Chris Rock’s performance disappointing

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Host Chris Rock speaks at the Oscars on Sunday. | AP Photo

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The only reason I ended up watching the Oscars this year was to see how Chris Rock handled the race controversy. I was disappointed.

While the funnyman took Hollywood to task for failing to make room for African-Americans in the Oscar race, he also mocked the boycott that was called because not one black person was nominated in a major category.

“People went mad. Spike got mad . . . and Jada went mad, and Will went mad,” Rock said during his opening monologue.

“Jada is going to boycott the Oscars — Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited,” Rock told an audience that was clearly stunned by his crude remark.

He went on to berate Will Smith who was not nominated for “Concussion.”

“It’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. . . . It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for ‘Wild Wild West,'” he said.


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On one hand, Rock groused that this was the 88th Academy Awards, which means the lack of diversity issue has been around for awhile.

“You gotta figure that it happened in the 50s, in the 60s. . . . I’m sure there were no black nominees in some of those years . . . and black people did not protest,” he said.

“Why? Because we had real things to protest . . . we’re too busy being raped and lynched to care about best cinematographer,” he said.

“You know, when your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short,” Rock said, explaining why the issue blew up this year.

On the other hand, he intentionally stepped on a lot of toes by calling Hollywood “racist.”

“You’re damn right Hollywood is racist. But it ain’t that racist that you’ve grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, ‘We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa,” he said.

I understand that crude jokes and silly skits are probably the best Rock could do under these circumstances.

After all, you don’t accept an invitation for a meal at someone’s home and then insult that person throughout dinner.

But while Hollywood’s black celebrities may not like being shut out of the Oscars, apparently they dislike losing a gig even more.

“I thought about quitting. I thought about it real hard. But, I realized, they’re gonna have the Oscars anyway. They’re not gonna cancel the Oscars because I quit. . . . And the last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart, OK?” Rock said.

#OscarsSoWhite should have been just that.

It was the only way to make the point that Hollywood’s brand of racism is no longer tolerable.

I may have nodded off during an acceptance speech or two, but as far as I can tell, only one Oscar winner even acknowledged the diversity controversy.

When Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu accepted his second award for best director for “The Revenant,” he touched on the need for diversity.

“I am very lucky to be here tonight, but unfortunately many others haven’t had the same luck,” Inarritu said, his voice rising above the music that was starting to play.

“So what a great opportunity to our generation to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice and this tribal thinking and make sure for once and forever that the color of our skin becomes as irrelevant as the length of our hair,” he said.

Rock gave Hollywood plenty of laughs.

But more in this privileged class need to see racism for the scourge it is.

There’s nothing funny about it.

Tweets by @MaryMitchellCST

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