Dear Chris Rock,
Like America’s conscience, I want to erase this moment in history but I can’t.
You’ve disgusted me to no end. I cannot believe I just witnessed your tasteless, callous, immature, disrespectful and unfunny “comedic tribute” to Oprah Winfrey. It was already borderline for you to joke about her money on such an occasion but you went way too far by cracking a sex joke about Oprah on the day she received her highest honor for the arts in the nation, by the President of the United States of America, in the Kennedy Center Honors:
The Presidential honorees, in total, were country singer Merle Haggard, composer Jerry Herman, choreographer Bill T. Jones, Sir Paul McCartney, and Oprah Winfrey.
Now let’s review your jokes, shall we?
Chris: Oprah’s SO rich…
Audience: How rich is she?!
Chris: Oprah’s so rich…that China owes HER money!
*There’s really no need to focus on Oprah’s money either but we can at least let this one pass, if nothing less, to remind Americans that their xenophobia and white supremacy are unjustified. But I digress…
Chris: Oprah’s SO rich…
Audience: How rich is she?!
Chris: Oprah’s so rich…that if she had sex with Paul McCartney, the SEC would have to approve!
Audience: (uncomfortable laughter, shifts in seats, polite smiles to neighbors)
HOW DARE YOU?!
How dare you disrespect a woman who has given America and the world so much spirit, hope and humanity even with the cars, sweaters and ipads via her medium of communications? How dare you, the only Black man, aside from Sidney Poitier, allowed to even give her such a solitary honor, take your short period of time in which to honor her and choose to focus on her body or make ANY type of sex joke to her at all, let alone in front of her peers and the world!!! You inappropriate imbecile!
Not only would that have been inappropriate to do to ANY woman but to be so disrespectful to Oprah Winfrey (!!!), under the guise of comedy…??? I don’t even have enough adjectives to describe the depth of Oprah’s beauty and humanity and how you trounced upon it. I’m aware Oprah is not perfect; but in the hour of her ultimate tribute, why, why, why did she have to be made to feel uncomfortable and why did it have to be YOU to do her so wrong?
Were you somehow UNAWARE that Oprah is a survivor of child sexual abuse and that, MAYBE, just MAYBE your sex joke might be inappropriate?
Did you, for a fleeting moment, give any thought to America’s sordid racial history and abuse of Black womens’ bodies, in particular, to consider that making an interracial sex joke about someone with whom she’s clearly not engaged, would be unacceptable?
When you watched the show on TV (if you even bothered to see such a poor replica of yourself), did you happen to notice how uncomfortable you made Oprah feel and how she tried to politely laugh it off with Paul McCartney sitting next to her? You’re a lint licker with the stench of a rhinoceros’ butt!
Further, not only did you disrespect Oprah, her history, her body and her narrative, you also disrespected her man—STE(A)D(Y)MAN—someone to whom you could clearly not measure up. I bet Stedman would never do a film called, “I Think I Love My Wife”, but that’s another story.
Did you notice how John Travolta and Barbara Walters had to come out and swiftly, politely and awkwardly come and pat you down and shut you up? They did it under the guise of limited time but trust me, it was because you were so appallingly inappropriate in that bit you want to call “comedy”. You’re UN-FUNNY!
The stupendously dignified tribute that Jennifer Hudson gave is the level of honor Oprah Winfrey deserved. Did you see the way Oprah and Stedman held hands during her performance? Did you see the way her eyes welled up, how she could barely release her breath at moments? How she seemed so filled with hope and possibility as she transitioned from being the number one talk show host for the last 25 years to fortifying an institution she is supremely calling “OWN”?
Did it occur to you how powerful it was that Jennifer Hudson was able to stand there, as a new woman, a healthy woman, a blessed woman standing with dignity and grace singing the hit song, “I’m Here” from “The Color Purple on Broadway”, the theatrical production of the book and film that changed Oprah’s life and brought her to our living rooms everyday?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
I thank God for JHUD’s performance because yours was a new low. You should be deeply ashamed of yourself and if you are not, it just tells me that you no longer have a conscience.
I wish you had heard the way I cussed you out last night. I’m not gonna put it in this post because I want to make sure everybody can read this at work—yeah, work, remember that?
This isn’t even the fist time you disrespected Oprah. Do you remember sitting on her chair, as a guest on her show and telling her that her childhood picture looked like that of a slave, as she tried to make light, self-deprecating jokes about her picture, knowing her childhood was filled with pain, abuse and…silence. Whelp, I’m not being silent if nothing more than for the child spirit in Oprah and little girls everywhere who have to deal with the likes of you!
I don’t even know how you got on the dais for the occasion because you were certainly an inappropriate choice, coming up on that stage looking all scraggly and unkempt like the piece of dung that you can be but you didn’t belong there, no matter how many times you get your teeth fixed.
Why don’t you belong there? Because, Chris, it has become more than clear that you are an ardent misogynist who apparently rarely has anything good to say about a Black woman and if and when you are blessed to be in the presence of so many beautiful Black women then you don’t know how to act, you have no class and you’re seemingly always inappropriate. Do you treat your mother like this, Chris?
Speaking of muthas, not that you deserve it but…the next time you’re being interviewed by Oprah, perhaps we can talk about what it means that THREE separate women have made rape accusations against you. How about that, Chris? Since you like to talk about sex so much…it would be insensitive, wouldn’t it?
I hear tell your interlude on Kanye West’s new work is equally disgusting and misogynistic. But I bet you’re proud.
Your jokes about Michelle Obama are mostly unfunny. Last night, you joked, “It’s amazing to look up and see the most important person in the world and — next to her — Barack Obama”.
The borderline, backhanded joke was more funny last night; but I hear tell even bell hooks is disgusted by all of the jokes you’ve made about our First Lady so far, including something about her “playing her position” in 2008 in your stand up. What gives, Chris?
I hope you witnessed, with each increasing guest and performance just how poor you were. Even Alex Baldwin was funnier and far more tasteful than you and he’s not even a comedian!
You, who created a film about imagining a Black President, unfortunately could not muster up the intestinal fortitude to stand in your full humanity and grace in front of one and honor a woman who has given so much to the world. Distinguished Gentleman, indeed…
Shame on you, Chris Rock, you owe Oprah Winfrey an apology and if the Kennedy Center approved your sorry script beforehand, they owe her—and us—an apology as well.
I doubt you’ll be a man about this but I just thought I should let you know that what you did was unacceptable and you need to change.
Sincere but So Disappointed,
p.s. As for “Good Hair”, your documentary might have been more substantive and helpful had you remotely bothered to ask a Black woman scholar, say like Dr. Noliwe Rooks at Princeton University, to weigh in on research she’s been conducting for decades. But that would be too much like right…
p.p.s. Jennifer, you still take my breath away!
See what Twitter had to say about the Kennedy Honors here: #KCH #KennedyHonors (thanks so much to all of you who weighted in on the discussion and provided historical context for Chris’s shenanigans)