Urbanites were ravenous for revenge about the Academy Awards “blackout” for the second consecutive year, despite delivering performances worthy of consideration and churning out dynamic movies, eventually prompting the ubiquitous slogan “OscarsSoWhite.”
Chris Rock’s helped quench the legion of critics’ thirst for blood by initially bashing the Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences and white people in general. But when Rock scorched Jada Pinkett-Smith’s rationale for boycotting the Academy Awards, it was akin to taking a cattle-prod to some black people’s nerves, no less than singer-actor Tyrese Gibson, a staunch Pinkett-Smith defender.
During the opening monologue of the 2016 Oscars, Rock tore into the Smith matriarch:
“What happened this year? People went nuts. Spike [Lee] got mad. Jada went mad. Will went mad. Everyone went mad!” Rock said about all the celebs wanting to protest the Oscars. “Jada said she’s not coming. I was like, ‘Isn’t she on TV show?’ Jada’s gonna boycott the Oscars? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited,” said Rock at the top of the awards show.
The comedian also used to his needle-sharp wit to demean Pinkett-Smtih’s husband Will Smith with this additional barbed-wire statement that got laughs:
“Her man Will was not nominated for Concussion. I get it. You get mad. It’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. You’re right,” he said. “It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West!”
Pinkett-Smith believed her husband’s gritty performance in the explosive movie about the NFL’s cover-up of the long-term effects of head trauma in the movie Concussion was overlooked by the Academy. This prompted a long, though-provoking soliloquy about the white privilege and blacks’ response to it:
“Today is Martin Luther King’s birthday, and I can’t help but ask the question: Is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence, that we have amassed, that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere?” she said in a video posted to Facebook.
Will Smith, 47, had retreated from the spotlight once this controversy erupted and just emerged publicly to promote his upcoming film Collateral Beauty, in Manhattan. Smith enveloped the area with his signature charisma and hearty laugh between autographs and photos with fans and, before he left, flashing the peace sign to the paparazzi.
He refused to even acknowledge Chris Rock’s scathing diss of him or his wife, which sums up his sentiments and the situation altogether. He was already off to his next venture.