Nobody probably saw it coming. But Nick Cannon in a bizarre twist in the #Oscarssowhite madness came across as the voice of reason in not wanting Chris Rock to step aside. He rightly pointed “Hell yeah I’m going to watch that ceremony where they let a black man be a master for at least two hours. Don’t waste your voice.”
Cannon used his talents. Instead of simply releasing a statement. He released a critical poem online. He stood out amongst a crowded field of dissenting voices. He used his skillset to the best of his ability and called on Chris Rock to do likewise. Others like Tyrese Gibson and 50 Cent rashly called for Chris Rock to boycott the Oscars. It was wise to ignore Gibson’s request. How many times has a black man overseen the Oscars?
One could probably count it on one hand. A black man with a microphone and the world as his audience at a critical moment in film history. Last two black men who had that power were Barack Obama and Martin Luther King. Their voices were definitely heard and listened to.
At a critical moment in the academy’s history and black acting community are both blessed that Chris Rock is taking the stage for the all-important night. For the academy they managed to get one of the sharpest comedians alive. For the black acting community, they got one of the most respected black comedians hold the microphone. Rock is a win-win for all parties involved.
Rumours are rife that Rock has thrown out his original monologue and is rewriting it. That may be true or not. But what is true is Chris Rock is in rare company. There are very few comedians like Chris Rock.
Rock can make you laugh but get manage to get you to think. Rock won’t simply rant on the night, but will address the issues that plague the system but manage to present the issues in a manner very few can replicate.
Dave Chappelle, Jon Stewart along with Steve Colbert, Louis. C.K and Larry Whitmore would be some of an elite few that can do what Rock does. But again very few of that group again are black.
Therefore, it is truly baffling Tyrese Gibson would call on Rock to step aside. At this critical moment, you truly couldn’t ask for a more suited individual to step onto the world stage and tackle the major issue at hand. Add in that Rock has presented at the awards before. He has been there and done it. He is used to the pressure. He knows how it works. There won’t be first time jitters. Nobody is better suited than Chris Rock to step up at this moment. The world is watching.
In the last few weeks, there has been outcry over the lack of diversity at the Oscars. Black people quite rightly are aggrieved with the situation at present. But in a time of negativity, one bright moment has been swallowed up by the Oscar crisis. That bright moment being Denzel Washington winning the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes.
It wasn’t the Oscars but nevertheless very few actors achieve the Cecil B. DeMille award. As Tom Hanks noted in his speech when presenting the award, the list of great actors to achieve this award are finite. Possibly aside from Sir Sidney Poitier, Washington is the only other black actor to receive this accolade. In the company of De Niro and Al Pacino, Hoffman.
Washington is just as deserving as the others. Add in the fact that compared to some of the previous winners on the list, Washington has maintained a high performance throughout his career. Compared to the likes of De Niro who goes through highs and lows. It is hard to point out one bad performance by Washington. but he is in the minority. He should have been celebrated more in the aftermath. Instead negative headlines dominated the news.
Washington compared to the likes of Will Smith, Jamie Foxx or any major block buster black actor, may not draw in the same box office figures. However, undeniably if a survey was carried out, Washington would surely be seen as the most reliable, respected and consistent of the major black figures in Hollywood today. At a time when outrage dominates the headlines. A possible alternative is push to Washington forward and use him as a shining example. A black actor who has achieved all the top accolades. Promote him as the champion of black film community.
Add in the reality is that there is not enough films and opportunities being made with black actors/actresses. For a black actor/actress to win, they have to deliver not a great performance, but quite simply an exceptional one in order to stand a chance. Washington has beaten those odds time and time again. The black acting community should look to him to guide them forward.
The reason he possibly hasn’t spoken out yet could be down to him not wanting to be seen as hypocritical. When he has just won the Cecil B. DeMille award. Nevertheless, he should be encouraged to add his voice to the debate. His voice like his performances will not be one of rash, ill-judged move. But one of considered, well-thought opinion. He truly is a solid star that stands out. One that should be celebrated more and should be listened to.