Dear Academy: Don't Apologize For Chris Rock

| by Nik Bonopartis
Chris Rock at the Academy AwardsChris Rock at the Academy Awards

Oscars host Chris Rock was offended that the Academy Awards honored so many white actors and directors, but only a handful of their black counterparts. Latino leaders were offended at Rock for being offended at the Oscars' whiteness, but not being offended at the exclusion of Latinos, Asians and Native Americans. And Asians were offended by Rock for not only excluding them on the list of offended groups, but also for offending them with an offensive skit.

Got it? Somewhere, GLAAD, the Anti-Defamation League and the Catholic League are probably wondering how they can get in on this, working their own angles about being offended.

It's gotten to the point where you need flow charts and hierarchical trees to figure out who's the most disenfranchised, which groups take priority when it comes to being offended, and how "privilege" cancels out offense in some circumstances.

Take Will and Jada-Pinkett Smith. Two bankable movie stars? Yes. Two thespians at the height of their craft who should be receiving Oscars? No.

Yet they were offended, and cast themselves as victims for not earning Oscar nominations, as if the U.S. Constitution guarantees them the right to win awards. Only in America can a couple worth hundreds of millions claim to be disenfranchised and downtrodden. Will Smith literally purchased movie and music careers for his children, Jaden and Willow, but somehow The Man still has his subjugating boot on Will's jiggy jiggy face, holding him back like those playground bullies in West Philadelphia all those years ago.

On March 15, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences apologized for Rock's skit, in which he joked about using the best and brightest accountants to tabulate Oscars votes before bringing out a trio of Asian-American children. The joke played to stereotypes that Asians are industrious, hard-working, intelligent and meek.

Hollywood's heavy-hitters of Asian descent -- including director Ang Lee, Star Trek actor George Takei, ER star Sandra Oh and about 20 others -- prompted the apology with a letter of complaint about Rock's ill-advised skit at the Feb. 28 awards show, according to the Washington Post.

Rock himself has remained silent on the matter. He didn't respond to reporters who reached out to him for comment on the Academy's apology, and Rock's Twitter account includes plenty of references to Donald Trump's alleged racism, but doesn't acknowledge the complaints against him for his Oscars skit.

The Academy has long been a spineless organization, bowing and scraping to anyone who makes a complaint, and has been prone to awarding "make up" Oscars to directors and actors who felt they were snubbed. A famous example was issuing an Academy Award to director Martin Scorcese, who almost certainly deserved to win the award several times over with films like Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and Goodfellas. The Departed, Scorcese's 2006 crime thriller, wasn't his best work, but that's the film that finally won him an Oscar as a sort of apology note from the Academy for choosing films like Dances With Wolves and Ordinary People over Goodfellas and Raging bull, respectively.

Likewise, Leonardo DiCaprio's decade-plus of sulking over his lack of an Oscar win finally earned him an Academy nod for The Revenant, a movie that wasn't unanimously praised by critics or movie-goers.

Maybe the Academy can mollify Rock by tossing him an Oscar if he ever does You Don't Mess With the Zohan 2, and maybe Takei can be persuaded to drop his criticism if he gets a retroactive Oscar for the way he delivered lines like, "Yes, Captain!" in 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

That's as good a strategy as any, in an age when everyone is offended, all the time. Someone should really tell the people who run the Oscars that bowing and scraping to everyone who says they're offended isn't going to solve the problem, it's simply going to encourage more people to step forward with claims about being offended.

Or the Academy can go the collegiate route and make the Oscars a Safe Space™ for everyone. In fact, that may be the only way to stop the cycle of being offended.

The next time the audience of A-listers and people watching at home are waiting with baited breath for the Best Picture announcement, have a social justice professor from a college like Oberlin walk up to the podium, make a show of opening an envelope, and declare that it wouldn't be fair to single out one movie as the best, because everyone's a winner. People will go home disappointed, but at least they won't be offended.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: Daily Mail, The Washington Post, Chris Rock/Twitter, Grantland / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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