New York Daily News columnist and Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King ripped Chris Rock’s Oscars monologue as a distasteful “garbled mess” that completely missed the mark on black activism.
In his column for the Daily News Sunday evening, Mr. King wrote that he and his family decided to only watch Mr. Rock’s monologue and turn off the rest of the program to protest “one of the whitest years in recent history for the Academy Awards.”
“Our deal, in our house, was that we would just watch Chris Rock’s opening monologue. Most of my friends, and thousands of black families across the country have opted to not even do that much and are boycotting the event altogether,” he wrote.
Mr. King argued that while the monologue offered up a few laughs, “much of what Rock said was distasteful, uncomfortable, and just plain wrong. … I kept waiting for him to say something, anything that made one bit of logical sense, but it quickly devolved into a garbled mess of illogical nonsense.”
He took particular issue with Mr. Rock’s joke that blacks didn’t protest in 1962 or 1963 over the Oscars because they had “real things to protest at the time.”
Mr. Rock said: “I’m sure there were no black nominees some of those years, say ‘62’ or ‘63. Black people did not protest. Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time. We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer. “
“Are you serious?” Mr. King asked. “The inference here, which I was heretofore reasonably confident that Rock didn’t believe, is that African Americans have voiced outrage in 2016 because we don’t have anything better to protest.
“In essence, Chris somehow found a way to simultaneously oversimplify what it meant to be black in the Civil Rights Movement while also drastically downplaying the size and scope of the injustice we face today. Thinking he had made a great point (he hadn’t), Chris then found a way to take it somewhere even uglier,” he wrote.
” ‘When your grandmother is swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short,’ Chris said to laughter throughout the audience,” Mr. King continued. “Listen, I know Chris steps on toes for a living, but I don’t ever want to hear a live audience laughing about the lynching of our grandmothers. I can’t imagine the deepest, darkest pain of any other group of people being used as a prime-time punchline. Not only that, but we indeed live in an era where black bodies, riddled with bullets, choked lifeless, Tasered repeatedly, are strewn all over this country from coast to coast.
“Whether he meant to or not, Chris Rock’s monologue gave the distinct impression that black people were either petty for being frustrated with The Academy or that we live in a time without injustice, and, therefore, have too much free time on our hands,” he wrote.
“While Rock concluded his monologue with a smart critique of the unique brand of racism in Hollywood, in which the nicest people in the city still go out of their way to not hire African-Americans, I couldn’t bring myself to get over the mess in the middle,” Mr. King concluded. “Chris Rock had a tall order tonight. Maybe the expectations were too high. Jokes about racism to a white audience can’t be easy, but I feel like he dropped the ball.”
Mr. King isn’t the only activist to criticize Mr. Rock’s monologue.
Prominent Black Lives Matter leader DeRay Mckesson tweeted, “There are still ‘real things to protest,’ @chrisrock. Like, police violence. And the #FlintWaterCrisis. #Oscars”