The following is a transcription of Chris Rock’s opening monologue as host of the 2016 Oscars. He took the stage to Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power”:
Man, I counted at least 15 black people on that montage. Hey! Well, I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards.
You realize, if they nominated hosts, I wouldn’t even get this job.
You all be watching Neil Patrick Harris right now. But, here’s the crazy thing. This is the wildest, craziest Oscars to ever host because we’ve all this controversy. No, no black nominees, you know? People are like, “Chris, you should boycott. Chris you should quit. You should quit!” How come it’s only unemployed people that tell you to quit something?
No one with a job ever tells you to quit. I thought about quitting. I thought about it real hard, but I realized they’re going to have the Oscars anyway. They’re not going to cancel the Oscars because I quit. And the last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart. I don’t need that. Kev right there! Kev makes movies fast. Every month. Porno stars don’t make movies that fast.
Now the thing is, why we protesting? That’s the big question. Why this Oscars? Why this Oscars, you know? It’s the 88th Academy Awards. It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means this whole black nominees thing has happened at least 71 other times.
We had real things to protest! Too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer. You know, when your grandmother is swinging from the tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short. What happened this year? What happened? People went mad. Spike got mad. Sharpton got mad. Jada went mad. And Will went mad.
Everybody went mad, you know. It’s quite like, Jada got mad? Jada says she’s not coming. Protesting. I’m like, “Isn’t she on a TV show?” Jada’s gonna boycott the Oscars? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rhianna’s panties. I wasn’t invited.
That’s not an invitation I would turn down. But I understand. I’m not hating. I understand you’re mad. Jada’s mad her man Will was not nominated for “Concussion.” I get it. I get it. Tell you truth, I get it. You get mad. Said it’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. You’re right. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 millionfor “Wild Wild West,” OK?
This year, the Oscars, things are going to be a little different. Things going to be a little different at the Oscars. This year, in the In Memorium pacikage it’s just going to be black people that were shot by the cops on their way to the movies.
Yes, yes, I said it all right. Hey, if you want black nominees every year, you need to just have black categories. That’s what you need. You need to have black categories. You already do it with men and women. Think about it. There’s no real reason for there to be a man and a woman category in acting. There’s no reason. It’s not track and field. You don’t have to separate them. Robert De Niro has never said, I better slow this acting down so Meryl Streep can catch up. No. Not at all, man. If you want black people every year at the Oscars, just have black categories, like best black friend. That’s right. And the winner for the 18th year in a row is Wanda Sykes. This is Wanda’s 18th black Oscar.
But here’s the real question. Everybody wants to know in the world, “Is Hollywood racist?” You’ve got to go at that the right way. Is it burning-cross racist? No. Is it fetch me some lemonade racist? Naw, naw naw. It’s a different type of racist.
I remember one night I was at a fundraiser for President Obama. A lot of you were there. It’s me and all of Hollywood. All of us there. There’s about four black people there. Me. Let’s see, Quincy Jones. Russell Simmons. Questlove. You know, the usual suspects, right? And every black actor that wasn’t working. Needless to say, Kev Hart was not there.
So, at some point you get to take a picture with the president, you know. As they’re setting up the picture, you get like a little moment with the president. I’m like, “Mr. President. You see all these writers and producers and actors, they don’t hire black people. And they’re the nicest white people on earth. They’re liberals.” Cheese!
The cast of Best Picture winner “Spotlight” takes a selfie backstage at the 88th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Actress Stacey Dash speaks onstage during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on Feb. 28, 2016.(Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
Michael Keaton and the cast and producers of “Spotlight” celebrate after winning the Oscar for best picture.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The production team and cast of Spotlight celebrate the award for best picture.(Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images)
Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, winner of Best Director with Tom Hardy(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Whoopi Goldberg(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Mark Rylance thanks Steven Spielberg before accepting his Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Marcos Taylor as Suge Knight(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Adam McKay, front, and Charles Randolph with their Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Is Hollywood racist? You damn right Hollywood’s racist, but it ain’t the racist that you’ve grown accustomed to. Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like: “We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.” That’s how Hollywood is, but things are changing. Things are changing. Yeah, we’ve got a black “Rocky” this year. Some people call it “Creed.” I call it “Black Rocky.” And that’s an unbelievable statement, because “Rocky” takes place in a world where white athletes are as good as black athletes. “Rocky’s” a science fiction movie. There are things that happen in “Star Wars” that are more believable than things that happen in “Rocky.”
We are here to honor actors. We are here to honor film. It’s a lot of snubs, but one of the biggest snubs no one is talking about. My favorite actor in the world is Paul Giamatti.... Think about what Paul Giamatti has done in the last couple of years. Last year, he’s in “12 Years a Slave.” Hates black people. This year, he’s in “Straight Outta Compton.” Loves black people. Last year he’s whipping Lupita. This year he’s crying at Eazy E’s funeral. Not that’s range. Ben Affleck can’t do that.
What I’m trying to say is it’s not about boycotting or anything. It’s just we want opportunity. We want the black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors. That’s it. And not just once. Leo gets a great part every year. All these guys get great parts all the time. But what about the black actors? Look at Jamie Foxx. Jamie Foxx is one of the best actors in the world. Jamie Foxx was so good in “Ray,” that they went to the hospital and unplugged the real Ray Charles. It’s like, “We don’t need two of these.”
No, man. Everything’s not about race, man. Another big thing tonight is you’re not allowed to ask women what they’re wearing anymore. It’s a whole thing: “Ask her more.” You have to ask her more.” Well, you know, you ask the men more. Hey, everything’s not sexism. Everything’s not racism. They ask the men more because the men are all wearing the same outfits, OK? Every guy in here is wearing the exact same thing. If George Clooney showed up with a lime green tux on and a swan coming out his ..., someone would go, “What you wearing George?”
And welcome to the 88th Academy Awards…