Host Chris Rock opens the show at the 88th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 28, 2016.
Host Chris Rock opens the show at the 88th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 28, 2016. Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

Chris Rock went there. The 88th Academy Awards presenter singed Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett-Smith for boycotting the Oscars, taking on sensitive issues like racism and sexism in Hollywood in his opening monologue.

On Sunday in the US, the 51-year-old comedian did not sidestep the #OscarsSoWhite controversy; he confronted the issue straightaway.

“Why are we protesting this Oscars? It’s the 88th Academy Awards, which means this no-black nominees thing happened at least 71 other times. You got to figure that it happened in the 50s, 60s, one of those years Sidney Poitier didn’t put out a movie,” he told the audience.

“We had real things to protest, too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematography. When your grandmother is swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short,” he joked about the decades that there were no black actors nominated but no one protested.

Rock also took aim at the Smiths, who boycotted the Oscars because no black actors were nominated for the second year in a row.

“Everybody went mad. … Jada says she’s not coming, protesting. I’m like, ‘Isn’t she on a TV show?’ Jada’s gonna boycott the Oscars? Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited,” he said, eliciting laughs from the audience.

“That’s not an invitation I would turn down. But I understand, I’m not hating. I understand you’re mad. Jada’s mad her man Will was not nominated for ‘Concussion.’ I get it. I get it. You get mad. It’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. You’re right. It’s also not fair that Will was paid US$20 million (AU$28 million) for ‘Wild, Wild West.’”

Rock’s solution to the #OscarSoWhite controversy is just to create “black categories.”

“You already do it with men and women. Think about it. There’s no real reason for there to be a man and a woman category in acting. … Robert DeNiro has never said, ‘I better slow this acting down so Meryl Streep can catch up.’ No, not at all, man. If you want black people every year at the Oscars, just have black categories, like best black friend.”

As for racism in Hollywood, Rock agreed that the industry is racist, but “a different type of racist.”

“Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, ‘We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.’ That’s how Hollywood is. The things are changing.”

He continued, “What I’m trying to say is it’s not about boycotting or anything. It’s just we want opportunity. We want the black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors. That’s it.”

Rock later on touched another controversial issue in the industry: sexism.

“Everything’s not about race, man,” he said, adding, “Everything’s not sexism.”

Rock is hosting the 88th Academy Awards in the US.