Comedian Chris Rock made race a central theme when he hosted the Academy Awards Sunday night.
Rock came out of the gate swinging and wasted no time dismissing the calls that he protest the gig because of the lack of non-white nominees. He made a series of jokes about race, including one about lynching:
How did Chris Rock handle the controversy? Take Two put that question to three Hollywood insiders. Here are some highlights from the interview.
A while back, you wrote an open letter to Chris Rock about how he should host the Oscars. It seems like he read your piece and heeded your advice.
“He did exactly what I said. I suggested [he] go after Will and Jada Smith, Spike Lee, he did that. He made some very edgy jokes — I don’t know if lynching is something we needed to hear about last night, but he went there. He was edgy. I even threw something in my piece about throwing Stacey Dash under the bus, and I think he did that too.”
Anne-Marie, one of the reasons I was so grateful to have you here with us this morning is that you starred in one of my favorite films of all time, “Hollywood Shuffle.” It poked a lot of fun but made some very serious points about the lack of diversity in Hollywood … How do you think humor can work in terms of having this discussion about diversity or the lack thereof in Hollywood?
“Humor can work if done well, and I have to disagree. I think he completely missed the point. I guess we were watching a different Academy Award show. I didn’t think he was edgy. I think the only African-American comic who could have pulled it off in a way that would have been completely mind blowing was Richard Pryor, and unfortunately, he’s no longer with us. I have nothing against Chris … But he pitted African-American against African-American, and that’s not the problem. The problem is that [our] films are not given the go-ahead because the industry relies on the global dollar and not the American dollar.“
Jenny, I saw you nodding during a lot of what Anne-Marie was saying. Your take on Chris Rock’s take on race last night.
“I just felt I was sitting through a really uncomfortable corporate diversity HR meeting where Chris Rock was representing the company and all of the jokes were just landing flat. He is a comedian. I’m a standup comedian and he had a huge task to handle, and that’s tough … 'Not your mule' was trending on Twitter, black folks saying, ‘Chris Rock can’t be responsible for carrying the water of all underrepresented people,’ and I get that. But as an Asian-American watching Chris Rock as a comedian, you can do way better than trotting out little Asian babies and making them some weird mascot stereotype — that’s like thirty years ago as well, that joke.”