The black stand-up comedian Chris Rock is set to host the Oscars. Many people believe it’s the best job in the world, but the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member has been chosen to host the Academy Awards in a very difficult year when the lack of diversity has led to fierce critics against the organization.
He must address the #OscarsSoWhite furor in a humorous way without attacking too much the organization that only nominated white actors and still entertain the audience and give a positive message to the black community around the world.
Rock hosted the Academy Awards for the first time in 2005. He was chosen for this year’s celebration last October and most commentators believe he has turned out to be the perfect choice.
“He’s really good at skewering show business and at skewering race relations in this country,” said Variety’s Tim Gray, as reported by Reuters. “I think Chris Rock will address the diversity issue head on, which is exactly what the show and the Academy need.”
The 51-year-old comedian hasn’t said a word about the controversy over the 20 all-white actors nominated for this year’s awards. He preferred to keep silent even after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences promised it would double the number of minorities and women in its ranks in the next four years.
Daniel Montgomery, the senior editor of awards website Goldderby.com, believes it’s better for Rock to save his words for the moment when he will be in control from the Oscars stage, according to Reuters.
Rock can’t go too far, but he’d be criticized if he doesn’t go far enough
The Academy, whose 6,200 members vote on the Oscars, may be hoping that Rock will make it look good in front of 40 million watchers in the U.S. and millions more worldwide.
Montgomery said Rock’s jokes at the Academy members’ expense would show they’re aware there’s a serious problem, but that the comedian could not afford to ignore the diversity issue. Of course, he can’t please everyone.
Gray pointed out that Hollywood’s biggest players inside the Dolby Theatre are not the most receptive audience, given that most of them will be nervous because they are either linked to a film or studio or nominated themselves. Besides, there are the TV viewers to hook in the first 10 minutes so they can stay with the entire live show.