In 2005, Academy Awards host Chris Rock opened the show by saying, “It’s a great night tonight. We have four black nominees tonight. It’s kind of like the ‘Def Oscar Jam’ tonight.”
Rock is returning to host this year but won’t be able to make that joke, and there are increasing calls for him to step down amid complaints about the lack of diversity among Oscar nominees.
There are no people of color nominated for any of the major categories, and #OscarsSoWhite and #OscarsStillSoWhite have kept the conversation going in social media.
“Fast and Furious” star Tyrese Gibson told People magazine that Rock should skip trying to tackle the issue as host and instead boycott.
“The statement that you make is, you step down,” Gibson said. “That’s what you do.”
Filmmaker Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith have said they plan to skip the ceremony in protest. On Wednesday, Lee said on “Good Morning America” that he supports his friend Rock.
“He’s going to do what he wants to do, and I’m going to support either way,” Lee said.
Rapper 50 Cent posted a picture of Rock on Instagram with the caption, “Chris please do not do the oscars awards. You mean a lot man, don’t do it. Please.”
There has been much discussion on social media of whether Rock should abdicate in solidarity.
“The View’s” Whoopi Goldberg, herself an Oscar winner, advised fans to boycott the movies they had issues with, not the Oscars.
“Chris Rock is the host of the Academy Awards, and to boycott him seems just as bad as what everybody is saying,” she said on the talk show “We have this conversation every year, and it pisses me off.”
Rock has not spoken publicly about the controversy.
In 2014, he wrote an essay on Hollywood’s race problem for The Hollywood Reporter.
“It’s a white industry,” Rock wrote. “Just as the NBA is a black industry. I’m not even saying it’s a bad thing. It just is.”