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Chris Rock addresses #OscarsSoWhite in monologue: 'We want opportunity'

Rock's ease at navigating the Oscars intro and finding the funny in anything should come as no surprise, nor should his frank approach.
/ Source: TODAY

When actor-comedian Chris Rock accepted the job as host for the 88th Annual Academy Awards, it was before the nominees were announced and the absolute lack of racial diversity in the acting categories was revealed.

But in the wake of all of that, many predicted he'd be the perfect master of ceremonies given his knack for socially aware and no-holds-barred humor. In the opening moments of Sunday night's Oscars, he proved them right.

Following an opening movie montage, Rock rocked viewers and the in-house audience by tackling the issue head on.

"Man, I counted at least 15 black people in that montage," he said before adding, "You realize, if they nominated hosts, I wouldn't even have this job."

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He also explained why he didn't stand down when some suggested he should quit given the controversy.

"They're going to have the Oscars anyway," he said. "They're still going to have the Oscars if I quit. The last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart."

88th Annual Academy Awards - Show
Host Chris Rock speaks onstage during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Before the show got underway, actor Hart shared some advice for his pal on the red carpet. "Address the elephant in the room," he said. "Make people feel uncomfortable.”

Of course, that's Rock's signature style, and he did not disappoint.

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Rock pointed out that this is far from the first year diversity has been problem. But back in the day, other protests took precedent, because people were "too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won Best Cinematographer. You know, when your grandmother's swinging from a tree, it's really hard to care about Best Documentary Foreign Short."

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"Is Hollywood racist?" he asked. "Is it burning cross racist? No. Is it fetch me some lemonade racist? Nah, nah, nah. It's a different kind of racist."

He also added a pointed quip, that "this year in the In Memoriam package, it's just going to be black people who were shot by cops on their way to the movies."

In the end, he summed the #OscarsSoWhite controversy best with one line: "We want opportunity."

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On Twitter, many celebrities were quick to cheer what they heard.

This isn't the first time an opening monologue at the Oscars has directly addressed the issue.

Last year, host Neil Patrick Harris said, "Welcome to the 87th Oscars. Tonight, we honor Hollywood's best and whitest — sorry ... brightest."

Of course, Rock's ease at navigating the Oscars intro and finding the funny in anything should come as no surprise, nor should his frank approach. He hosted the ceremony back in 2005, and opened that show by telling the star-filled audience to "sit your asses down!"

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As for this year's show, long before the telecast, he dubbed it "the White BET Awards." And just before the broadcast, he was still busy fine-tuning what turned out to be memorable monologue.

Follow Ree Hines on Twitter.