Will Oscar Host, Chris Rock, Skip The Show?

For the second year in a row, no person of color was nominated for the categories of Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, or even Best Director for the 88th Annual Academy Awards, a possible error in judgment that didn’t go unnoticed by the black community in Hollywood.

Last Friday, Will Packer, executive producer of Straight Outta Compton said on Facebook, “To my Academy colleagues, WE HAVE TO DO BETTER. Period. The reason the rest of the world looks at us like we have no clue is because in 2016 it’s a complete embarrassment to say that the heights of cinematic achievement have only been reached by white people. I repeat—it’s embarrassing.” And that just might have got the boycott of the 88th annual award show started.

On Monday, both filmmaker Spike Lee (who received an honorary Oscar last November) and Jada Pinkett Smith (whose husband Will Smith was nominated for a Golden Globe for Concussion but was was snubbed an Oscar nomination) stood on their virtual soapboxes to announce that they would be boycotting this year’s Oscar ceremony. After thanking Cheryl Boone Issacs, the Academy’s president for the award on Instagram, he said, “My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White?”

Jada Pinkett Smith’s statement was posted on Facebook, “Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity, and diminishes power, and we are a dignified people, and we are powerful, and let’s not forget it.” She then added a personal note to Chris Rock. “Hey, Chris. I will not be at the Academy Awards and I won’t be watching but I can’t think of a better man to do the job at hand this year than you, my friend. Good luck.”

And even though Pickett Smith was showing her support of Rock, not everyone else is on board. Some are asking Chris to step down from his hosting duties. 50 Cent posted on Instagram saying, “Chris please do not do the Oscars awards. You mean a lot man, don’t do it. Please.”

However, Spike Lee continues his support of Rock stating, “The host is black and now black actors and others are shaming him for taking the job? He earned it.”

But the situation has put Chris Rock in that spot that is between a rock and hard place. If Rock continues to honor to host, some may see him as siding with the enemy. Others, like NBC Today Show morning host, Matt Lauer, say that he should stay on. “Don’t you think it would be better for him to stick it out and do the hosting? Because if he pulls out, it’s a big story for one day,” Lauer told his co-hosts on Monday’s show. “If he decides to host, there’s all that anticipation and everything he says on that stage gets played over and over again and he can make a real difference.”

Never to mince his words, the outspoken Ricky Gervais, host of this year’s Golden Globes chimed in saying on Twitter, “If I were @chrisrock, I wouldn’t be considering boycotting The Oscars. I’d be thinking ‘this s**t is live. I can do some serious damage.’ (sic)”

And on Monday night, Cheryl Boone gave her own two cents about the issue saying, “I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s nominees. While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes.” She then added, “The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.” Apparently this “change” has been going on for some time since as said, “As many of you know, we have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly.” However, these words of comfort may have come a little too late.

As of yet, Chris Rock is silent on issue though he did tweet, “The #Oscars. The White BET Awards.”

[Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images]

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