Before Neil Patrick Harris was announced as Oscars host, it was rumored that producers sought Chris Rock for the show. "I didn't get an offer," Rock said to TheWrap last year, after Harris was chosen. "I mean, it's Neil Patrick Harris. It's like, who would pick me before Neil Patrick Harris? He's an amazing host." He is, but: damn, if only. In the wake of Thursday's nominees, Rock would have been the perfect host to counterbalance the forthcoming #OscarsSoWhite broadcast.
Just consider how he started his monologue at the 77th annual Academy Awards, 10 years ago: "Welcome to the 77th, and last, Academy Awards," Rock said. Unlike this year, where all 20 men and women nominated in the acting categories are white, the 2005 Oscars included five black nominees -- Jamie Foxx (twice), Morgan Freeman, Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo. (Foxx and Freeman would go on to win.) "It's kind of like the Def Oscar Jam tonight," Rock joked.
His monologue was blistering -- he torched Hollywood for its bad ideas (chief among them, putting Jude Law in every movie) and mercilessly mocked then-President George W. Bush. "Bush basically reapplied for his job this year. Can you imagine applying for a job, and while you're applying for that job, there's a movie in every theater in the country that shows how much you suck at that job?" Rock said, referencing Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." He later compared Bush to an employee at the Gap.
But it was Rock's take on the differences between how Hollywood views white audiences and black audiences that seems particularly timely now.
"A lot of Jewish people were mad about 'Passion of the Christ,' and I can relate," Rock said, referring to the charges of anti-Semitism that dogged Mel Gibson's film. "Because I had to deal with a movie called 'Soul Plane' this year. I would trade you 'Passion of the Christ' for 'Soul Plane' any day of the week. At least they make movies for white people to enjoy. Real movies with plots. With actors, not rappers. With real names. 'Catch Me If You Can.' 'Saving Private Ryan.' Black movies don't have real names. You get names like 'Barbershop.' That's not a name, that's just a location. 'Barbershop,' 'Cookout,' 'Car Wash.' They've been making the same movie for 40 years. You know 'Laundromat' is coming soon. After that, 'Check Cashing Place.'"
Ten years later, things haven't changed all that much. "Now, when it comes to casting, Hollywood pretty much decides to cast a black guy or they don't," Rock wrote for THR last December. "We're never on the 'short list.' We're never 'in the mix.' When there's a hot part in town and the guys are reading for it, that's just what happens. It was never like, 'Is it going to be Ryan Gosling or Chiwetel Ejiofor for Fifty Shades of Grey?' And you know, black people fuck, too. White women actually want to fuck black guys, sometimes more than white guys. More women want to fuck Tyrese than Jamie Dornan, and it's not even close. It's not a contest. Even Jamie would go, 'OK, you got it.'"
Watch Rock's Oscars monologue below; an edited version of his opening appears on the Oscars' YouTube page.