sat 18/05/2024

Chris Rock, Netflix special review - no holds barred on the Oscars slap | reviews, news & interviews

Chris Rock, Netflix special review - no holds barred on the Oscars slap

Chris Rock, Netflix special review - no holds barred on the Oscars slap

It still pains

Chris Rock teased what was to come late in the show

Chris Rock knows how to tease. It’s a safe bet that many watching this show are here for one thing – to hear his version of events that took place at last year’s Oscars, when actor and erstwhile rapper Will Smith came on stage and slapped the comic

First, though, he sets it up. Not by talking about the Oscars kerfuffle per se – although he tells us “Anyone who says words hurt has never been punched in the face” – but by cheeky asides that let us know Rock is leading us there.  He references Snoop Dog and Jay-Z; he’s not dissing them, he’s at pains to make clear, because: “The last thing I need is a pissed-off rapper.”

He expands on the show’s title. Selective Outrage, he says, is when people stop buying R Kelly records but still listen to Michael Jackson one has better songs – and people condemn slavery while speaking on phones made by child slaves. Or how a business selling $100 yoga pants loudly proclaiming its anti-racist stance is actually “anti-poor people”.

Over the course of an hour, he builds momentum as he expands on some of his usual subjects – the transactional nature of his relationships with women, or his parenting style – with some more recent additions, including how the younger generation are woke and, bizarrely, a section about Elon Musk’s ejaculate.

Some of this material is ho-hum, and doesn’t reach the heights of his previous tours – but we trust that stronger stuff is coming.

And it does, in a blistering eight-minute finale that addresses "The Slap", and so much more.

I should say at this point that the show now available on Netflix is a lightly edited version of the live broadcast  – a first for the streamer –  of Rock’s show at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore. After performing his material immaculately for an hour, he fluffed a crucial reference to Smith’s film career and redid the line.

The Baltimore location may have been a subtle dig at Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who comes from the city. Certainly, she becomes the villain of the piece, a woman so powerful in Rock’s worldview that “a grown-ass bitch” like Smith loses his marbles to defend her honour.

The comic tells us where he thinks the bad blood started, long before 2022 Oscars night. It’s a partial view, of course, but my goodness is Rock still angry about it and turns it into excoriating comedy.

He explains why he didn’t fight back. “Because I got parents. Because I was raised,” he says with feeling. “And you know what my parents taught me? Don’t fight in front of white people.”

Now that is claiming the high moral ground, and then some.

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