Chris Rock’s 2022 hosting stint at the Oscars got an obscene amount of attention at the time, and now it’s being talked about all over again as the comedian is finally cracking jokes about it. But Rock fans surely remember that this isn’t the first time Rock was involved with drama and controversy while hosting Hollywood’s biggest night.
Besides some vague references to Oscar winner Will Smith storming onto the stage to slap him, Rock hadn’t really dug into the incident until right now. His Netflix special “Selective Outrage” debuted on March 4, just over a week before the 95th Annual Academy Awards premiere. It’s hard to believe that this timing wasn’t intentional.
“Anybody that says that words hurt has never been punched in the face,” Rock said during the performance as the audience laughed. “Words hurt when you write them on a brick.”
The 58-year-old celebrity also talked in-depth about the slap and Smith’s motivation behind it. Smith was reacting to Rock joking about Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head. Rock saying, “Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it” was enough to make Will jump out of his seat and slap Rock while repeating, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth!”
This could be seen as an example of an overprotective spouse. But Rock insists that Will’s reaction was more about the Smith’s complicated relationship. The pair have been open about Jada’s infidelity. She even interviewed her husband during an episode of her talk show “Red Table Talk” and had him confront his feelings about these “entanglements” publicly.
“Will Smith practices selective outrage because everyone that knows what happened, everybody that really knows, knows I had nothing to do with that s***. I didn’t have any entanglements,” Rock says during the stand-up special “His wife was f***ing her son’s friend.”
“Now I normally wouldn’t talk about this s***,” Rock continued. “But for some reason these n****** put that s*** on the internet. I have no idea why two talented people would do something that f***ing low down.” he said.
“We’ve all been cheated on, everybody in here has been cheated on. None of us have been interviewed by the person that cheated on us on television…”
Fans will likely remember that 2022 was not Rock’s first time hosting the Academy Awards. The Emmy Award-winning actor first hosted in 2005 and while the drama then wasn’t as big as “slapgate,” there was a bit of controversy that time, too.
Rock came under fire for mocking the ceremony before he even took the stage.
“Come on, it’s a fashion show,” the comedian told Entertainment Weekly ahead of the broadcast that year. “What straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars? Show me one. And they don’t recognize comedy, and you don’t see a lot of black people nominated, so why should I watch it?”
While onstage, Rock joked about Jude Law being a second-rate Tom Cruise, which earned him a scolding from Sean Penn. The actor admonished Rock, saying, “Forgive my compromised sense of humor but I did want to answer our host’s question about who Jude Law is. He’s one of our finest actors.”
Despite these minor incidents, Rock was invited back to host in 2016. The comedian was asked to boycott the Academy Awards in protest of the fact that no black actors were nominated that year, but he declined. The “Saturday Night Live” alum did address racism during his time onstage, however.
“Is Hollywood racist?” he said during the presentation. “You’re damn right Hollywood’s racist.” Rock explained his belief that the industry was not “burning cross racist … it’s a different type of racist.”
Rock went on to say that the people he’s talking about, “don’t hire black people and they’re the nicest white people on earth; they’re liberals.”
He said their form of racist behavior is “sorority racist, like ‘We like you, Ronda, but you’re not a Kappa.’”
In a rare moment of foreshadowing, Rock also mocked Will and Jada Pinkett Smith for skipping the 2016 ceremony.
“Jada got mad, she said she’s not coming. Doesn’t she have a TV show? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties – I wasn’t invited!” he quipped, adding, “You get mad that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated” [for his role in ‘Concussion’]. “It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million to do ‘Wild Wild West.’”
He also mentioned the calls to boycott.
“‘Chris, you should boycott, you should quit’ – how come it’s always unemployed people that tell you to quit something?” Rock said. “I thought about it really hard but they’re not going to cancel the Oscars because I quit, and the last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart.”
Rock ended the speech by saying, “black lives matter” while raising his fist.
It’s unclear if the “Death at a Funeral” star will ever be asked to host the Academy Awards again. But this year’s host Jimmy Kimmel, who is also taking the stage for the third time, recently discussed what he plans to do if anyone assaults him during the presentation.
When asked how he’d handle a slap, Kimmel told The Hollywood Reporter, “Well, I size them up, and, if I’m bigger than they are, I beat the s*** out of them on television. And if it’s the Rock, I run.”