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Oscars: Chris Rock's Man-on-the-Street in Compton was Cringe-Worthy


Malcolm Venable

In a cringe-worthy sketch, Chris Rock attempted to go "as far away from Hollywood" as possible to get fresh perspective on the racial controversy, doing his signature man-on-the-street interviews outside a movie theater in Compton.

Never mind the fact that this bit, like others, failed to be about any other people of color besides black people, the bit was already in trouble for its counterproductive premise: that black and white filmgoers live in two entirely disparate worlds. The format itself felt too casual for a night honoring the best achievements in filmmaking - the visual of Chris Rock wearing a tuxedo while interviewing a man with his sweater on backwards the equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard.

At this point in the night and the broadcast, if not the year, the point had been made and re-hashed 1,000 ways, so Rock asking questions that re-enforced stereotypes ("Did you think about rioting and looting?" he asked one lady) and made black moviegoers look out of touch (nobody had seen or heard of Brooklyn, Spotlight,The Big Short or Bridge of Spies)felt like a gigantic step backward. It was lazy, pandering to the lowest common denominator and, even without the man dressed like a pimp or the lady who seemed to be high, extremely embarrassing. At least one guy mentioned also including Hispanics and Asians, making him look, unfortunately, like the smartest person in the whole fiasco.