Academy Awards: Chris Rock takes shot at #OscarsSoWhite

Outspoken black comedian hosting the Oscars employs humour to handle the controversy over diversity at the film awards.

Chris Rock used humour to handle the controversy over a lack of diversity at the Oscars [Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP]

Academy Awards host Chris Rock pulled no punches in taking aim at the #OscarsSoWhite controversy dominating Hollywood.

Oscars 2016: The Winners

Best picture: Spotlight

Actor in a leading role: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant

Actress in a leading role: Brie Larson – Room

Actor in a supporting role: Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies

Actress in a supporting role: Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl

Animated feature film: Inside Out

Cinematography: The Revenant

Costume design: Mad Max: Fury Road

Directing: The Revenant

Documentary feature: Amy

Documentary short: A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

Film editing: Mad Max: Fury Road

Foreign language film: Son of Saul

Make-up and hairstyling: Mad Max: Fury Road

Music – original score: The Hateful Eight

Music – original song: Writing’s on the wall – Spectre

Production design: Mad Max: Fury Road

Short film – animated: Bear Story

Short film – live action: Stutterer

Sound editing: Mad Max: Fury Road

Sound mixing: Mad Max: Fury Road

Visual effects: Ex Machina

Writing – adapted screenplay: The Big Short

Writing – original screenplay: Spotlight

Rock – the outspoken black comedian chosen to host the Oscars months before the selection was announced of an all-white acting nominee line-up for the second year running – welcomed viewers to what he called “the white People’s Choice awards” on Sunday night.

Speculating on why the furore over diversity in the industry had taken root this year, rather than in the 1950s or 1960s, Rock said black Americans had “real things to protest at the time”.

“We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematography,” he said. “When your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short.”

Turning to the present day, Rock joked that things would be different at Sunday’s Academy Awards, saying the traditional segment honouring stars who died is “just going to be black people that were shot by the cops on their way to the movies”.

A few blocks away from the glamour of Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, about 40 people gathered to make the case for more diversity in a rally organised by civil rights leader Al Sharpton.

Sharpton called for Americans to “tune out” the live telecast, the most watched non-sports TV event of the year.

Director Spike Lee, who shunned the Academy Awards ceremony along with actor Will Smith, instead attended a New York Knicks basketball game on Sunday.

However, a wider Oscar boycott largely failed to gather steam as black celebrities – including Kerry Washington, Whoopi Goldberg, Pharrell Williams and John Legend – all showed up.

“I really want to be part of the conversation so we have institutional change, so we never have a year like this again,” Washington told ABC television on the red carpet.

The under-representation of people of colour in the film and TV industry prompted pledges to bring more women and minorities into the industry and the Academy.

In one pre-taped parody, Rock ventured in a tuxedo to a cinema in the predominantly black Los Angeles suburb of Compton to ask several African-American moviegoers there whether they had seen any of the films nominated this year for best picture. None had.

But all said they had seen, and enjoyed, the critically acclaimed hip-hop drama Straight Outta Compton, which failed to earn a place in the best picture contest.

 Oscars 2016: Hollywood prepares for its biggest night

Source: Reuters